Here we reach the true "Art of Fencing," in which correct calculation and judgement, and greater composure, precision, rapidity and endurance - general superiority in swordsmanship - will and must turn the scale. (italics mine)
Greater composure was something that I lacked last night in practice. Frustrations over leaving my old job and starting a new one, finances, social life, and a host of other issues damaged my train of thought. I executed lunges and fleches on to someones point; habits and mistakes I thought I buried long ago crawled back to the surface.
It's for this reason I avoid inviting my friends to watch me fence. Not because having them there would be distracting - it's because if they are late or don't show up, it effects my concentration. The day I won my first individual gold medal, I had a rough going in the pools because I was expecting a "friend" to arrive any minute. Between pools and DEs I simply just accepted she wasn't coming, wrote her off in my mind, and then went on to win the whole damn thing. I never understood how much composure meant until that day.
Too often I let my mind and heart focus on things and issues that in the end do not matter. Keeping my thoughts clear and single-minded is the key to winning on and off the piste.