Monday, March 17, 2008

Lady's Blade, Part 4: My E is better than your E

This past weekend another of my teammates earned his B (that's two B's in less than a month, and a third earned his C)! I am, of course, excited for him. But I'm also anxious as to what this means for me. I can't consistently beat these guys, but I feel competitive against them, and every now and then I'll pull off an upset. Our coach has told me that I'm definitely fighting at a C level and if I were to get into a high rated women's tournament I'd likely earn my B too. This makes me feel pretty good, but also makes me wonder.

If I were to earn a new rating in a women's event, is that worth more or less than earning it in an Open? I follow almost all the tournament results from my division and those of Virginia and South Carolina, paying particular attention to the final placing of the women. From my very unscientific observations, it appears that women placing in the top 25% of an Open is a rarity, but it's hard to draw any real conclusions from this. While the total number of women competing is statistically small compared to men, the number of them with a C or higher is even smaller, so its hard to gauge how the higher rated women do against men of similar ratings. And of course, beyond the local level, the competitions are going to be segregated.

I will admit to slightly more personal satisfaction upon beating a guy in a DE than a girl (what does that guy feel like? I'm sure I obsess about this way more than anyone else). I don't really have a good reason for this, but an interesting tidbit from last week's New York Times gives me at least a little justification. (Article: An Enduring Measure of Fitness) According to the article, and the video that accompanies it online, women have 20% less muscle than men and therefore 20% less strength. Now, we do push-ups as part of the conditioning portion of our practices and generally, I feel like I can keep up with the guys fairly well in this regard. I don't use my knees and I don't finish too far behind (20% behind?).

Unfortunately I have no real conclusion to all this incoherent babbling, but my ultimate question is: If I earn my C in an Open, does that make me a better fencer than earning it by strictly fencing other women? At this point, I feel equal to any man with an E, but can still become intimidated by a D of either gender. I guess the only way to find out for sure is to earn a new rating and then see who continues to kick my butt afterwards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've thought the same about veteran's events v. open and concluded a rating is a rating. Try to secure the best rating you can in any event. It's helps in seeding, gives you confidence juice and invariably leeds you begin to fence the higher rating unless you completely get hosed for lack of prep, warmup, or concentration; gulty.