Monday, July 30, 2007

I eBay, Therefore I Epee

Most people choose a weapon to fence based on a coach's recommendation, or personal preference. Other fence whatever weapon is being taught in the area. I ended up fencing epee because of a deal on eBay.

I started fencing foil at Minnesota Sword Club about 4-5 years ago. I was ok, but I was progressing nicely. My coach suggested I look at epee, but I was gung ho on getting foil down first. One of the problems with foil, and fencing in general, is that the blades are very expensive and there is no absolute guarantee it will last more than a single tournament. Spending money on a cheap Blue Gauntlet electric foil taught me that hard lesson. I shelled out $100 for a Santelli foil which came highly recommended, but I really couldn't afford to make many more purchases like that without some guarantee the thing would last. After asking for advice, I figured I could find some decent stuff on eBay - thinking that it may not be the highest quality, but at least it would be a better deal.

That's when I came across a beautiful Uhlmann foil. It had a rainbow coloured FIE blade, red pistol grip, and Leon Paul bayonet socket. Bidding at $45, with few takers. As an experienced eBay-er, I knew that jumping on this deal would be suicide - it would be best to wait it out till the final minutes (or seconds) before bidding. Luckily, the auction would end on a Wednesday night, so I could just stay at work to watch it.

And then I saw it - another Uhlmann FIE weapon, top of the line. Only this weapon was an epee. The current bid was for $50, but this particular weapon retails at nearly $200 - and the seller claimed the weapon was brand new. What's the worst that could happen? If it was a fake, I would just report her to eBay. So I bid on that one too - and won them both. The next week I saw an STM FIE epee, and was able to bring it home for under $100. Did I mention all three weapons came with body cords?

So having originally gone in search of cheap foils - I ended up with a quality FIE foil, and two FIE epees w/body cords at an insane price. Now that I was completely outfitted for competing in epee - I figured I may as well give it a shot.

One last note - all three weapons still function, and are in working order. Best fencing purchase I ever made. Too bad there aren't more deals like this.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Nationals Aftermath

To get over the whole fiasco in Miami (see below) I went on a five day bender that ended in Northside Hospital. Nothing like spitting blood and having saliva run out of a hole in your face to sober you up. Concrete is hard.

The good news is that I am healing quickly, and I still feel myself progressing. This time last year I noticed a difficult plateau in my fencing prowess - no longer. I can hit toe touches at will. My fleches are a little slow, but I can time the remise with my opponent's parry during the fleche - which is awesome. Hand touches are a lot better as well. I also have a shiny not-so-new red Leon Paul rollbag (with steel support plate) which makes me feel awesome.

I can't wait for the new season!

EDIT: A cookie for whoever recognizes the quote in the title box above. (7/27/07)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Miami - Lots of Heat, Some Fencing

Few things I enjoy more than watching fencing. Learning about opponents, commenting on good or bad technique, preparing myself mentally to fence myself are all benefits from hanging around the Summer Nationals venue for a week.

Unfortunately, such dilligence cannot fix a broken bodycord.

Watching my pool in Division II Men's Epee I wasn't too worried. My record was 0-1, but I lost by only one touch. Sure my weapon seemed to be acting funny, but I figured it was just nerves on my part. After another weapon failed shims, and then another failed weights, I started to get nervous.

Soon all my weapons were alternately failing and passing, as my record dipped to 1-3. Knowing I needed to absolutely win the next two bouts just to get past the 80% cut for the direct elimination round didn't help at all. Then came the moment of fear - in my fifth bout I was up 4-2, and was repeatedly stabbing my opponent. No light, no touch. No touch, no halt. With no halt, I had to keep hitting the guy just to keep time running out. My opponent, no fool, pressed his advantage, and won in priority.

By the last bout, record now 1-4, I realized it was a body cord problem, and I just couldn't get my head back into the game. I lost 5-4 on a bad fleche (double-touch), and with only one victory and a -7 indicator, I was four touches out of the DEs.

The worst is that only one kid legitimately beat me, the rest benefited from my non functioning equipment. Never mind I brought four epee weapons (Uhlmann FIE, STM FIE, brand new Leon Paul, brand new PBT), or that both my body cords were certified by the armourers. Getting railed at Nationals by your betters is one thing. Crapping out in the pools in an event you could have won is completely humiliating. The body cord more than anything else was at fault, and now I must remember to buy a brand new cord at every national competition I compete in. See below if you want the old one.

It's there somewhere.

Back to the drawing board.