Saturday, July 15, 2006

The introspective epeeist

I fought the first bout of the match and closed it out 5-1. Unfortunately, our lead was whittled down when I came up again, but I was able to retain it by finishing my second bout 6-4. My final bout (second to last of the match) was against who I suspect was their strongest fencer. She had beaten both of my teammates and against them had fleched successfully. I knew she was going to fleche if she had a chance to move forward, so I pressed her as much as I could, keeping her on the back third of the strip. There were several double touches because she was aggressive. I, in keeping with my strategy of the day, simply waited for the openings and hit them rather faithfully. But this is not what I should have done. I had seen the girl fence twice before already and I knew she scored points from being aggressive. But I am both stubborn and naive and did not see fit to change what seemed like a winning strategy to me. What I should have done was take over the aggression and initiated more attacks. I can't recall how much my teammates tried this tactic against this opponent, but - knowing my teammates -I would guess not much. Perhaps she had horrible defense; perhaps she cracks when pressured. I guess I'll never know unless we should fight again. But I wasn't all the way in the game. There were acres of strip behind me and I was wearing a rather muted confidence, so I slipped and took a few steps back. That's all it took - it was a great fleche, fast and surprising. I didn't stop it; I can't even recall whether I had time to react at all. It ended the bout and put them ahead by one point. Unfortunately my teammate could not overcome the deficit in the final bout and the day was over for us after that.

So now I keep seeing the scene over and over: my steps back, her fleche. I study it from many angles to see if I could have stopped the fleche. I wonder if I had been the aggressor from the very beginning whether we could have avoided such a narrow loss. And now I'm wondering if all this not-so-instant replay is doing anyone any good. I'm not brooding mind you, I'm just wondering.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nationals Review

What? No trumpet fanfare for a heroic return?

As I am supposed to be catching up on work at the moment, there is not time to write a complete review, but briefly, here are the facts:

Our senior women's epee team went into the event seeded 18 out of 19. We left the event placing 18 out of 19. I can live with this I suppose. The final score was 44 for the Univ of Florida, 41 for Salle Green. I thought it was a good match. To me, it was really fun and personally I thought I fenced very well (hey, that's new). I did have one big "Oh Crap" moment when I realized I had made a terrible mistake and the bout ended in my opponent's favor. I've relived that one about a thousand times over the last three days.

Our merciless men's team fared better. They won their first round quite handily but lost in the next round to hometown favorites Salle Auriol. Somehow, that still placed them behind teams who didn't win any rounds. Go figure.

Atlanta did not impress me as a city. Everywhere we went (almost) was inefficient with long lines and ridiculous price. At least it wasn't too hot the days that we were there. I did get to see some very good fencing. I wanna fence like Lacey Burt when I grow up.

Pictures to follow. The computer that the scanner is hooked to is all wonky and I'll have to clean off the desk before I can hook the scanner to this computer. Trust me - I was looking goood. :D
To do before next year: learn how to take a decent action shot to avoid developing two rolls of blur.

I wish to distill more of my thoughts about the fencing itself in the next day or so. I think perhaps my destiny lies with the epee.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

T-minus Four days...

I meant to write before now...I've had a few things on my mind. But it seems like every night, when I should be writing, the bed - she calls me. Alas.

I'm coming down like a river in a cage
-Rusted Root

Tonight was my last practice before Nationals. Flow flow flow! I keep hearing it at every lesson; I try to translate it to my movement and embed it into my limbs. I like to think of this song lyric and imagine what it would feel like if my body were a cage of water. My movements would be swift and strong, but most of all smooth. I imagine that I am pushed forward by the force of the water that would be my bones, that I am energized by the rivulets that would be my veins. I can feel it as surely as I sit here. It is harder to hold onto this feeling on the strip.

I am glad that I am fighting epee. I like the feel of the larger sword in my grip. I tried to explain to Maitre that one of the reasons I liked epee was because of the heavier, stronger weapon; I feel on much more equal ground with anyone I fight than with the foil. I got the impression he didn't think it was entirely valid reasoning, but that doesn't matter because I can sure as hell parry even the strongest attack he throws at me.

Thursday morning it is off to Atlanta. I will try to keep in mind things to write about while I am there. Sunday morning we fight. I will try not to let us come in last place.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

-Eleanor Roosevelt