Thursday, May 05, 2005


When I get ready to bout and I'm waiting for the command to Fence, I'm furiously sorting through the limited list of attacks that I know and trying to decide how to proceed. Usually, in my head, it comes down to "I have to surprise them". And I consider this route so often that by the time it's over, whether I've won or not, I'm saying to myself that I rely too heavily on this element of surprise. Historically speaking, surprise attacks have been relegated to the likes of pirates and highway bandits. And while pirates are pretty damn cool, resorting to the tactics of ruffians and philistines leaves me rather intellectually unsatisfied. I like problem solving.

(Of course, a few nights ago I then read an article - which I don't have with me now for reference - stressing the importance of using surprise in your bouting - so what do I know.)

Let me be clear, if your opponent knows what you're going to do, then he's probably going to stop you, so surprise is important, but I'm certain that it must be coupled with some bona fide strategy or else you just look spastic. So...what to do. Do most fencers know what attack they will try as they are preparing to bout, or is it always wait and see? It will take some study I think: to compile lists of possible situations and the appropriate actions to take. A veritable rolodex of attacks to flip through when you're facing off. Naturally, that's all the while reacting and responding to the opponent's own methodology. Every bout must be taken one second at a time - or sometimes, halves of seconds.

Hey, and that's another thing I like about fencing. It's one of the few activities where I am truly truly focused. It's not possible to let your mind wander - and for me that's a good thing - cause my mind has a terrible sense of direction and when left to wander will usually end up in the Pit of Despair (or, at the very least, the Indentation of Ennui). But I digress. Fencing allows me to focus and makes me euphoric at the same time. Like Ritalin and Paxil in a little white coat. And isn't that a nice thought to end on.

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