Friday, December 16, 2011

No Joy in Kansas City

This was a tough one. I was slated to compete in Div I and Div II Men's Epee, with a new coach and new larger lungs fresh from Colorado. The only difference between this event and the last NAC is that I knew exactly what happened this time.

On Saturday, I got to the venue early - stretched, warmed up, and wasn't hitting anything in practice bouts. My first bout in the event I won 5-4 with some slippery dodges paired with counterattacks. Apparently in the other bouts I lost touches because I would retreat with the parry, and retreat again with the riposte. Apparently I lost my bulldog freight train edge.

On Monday, I got to the venue early - stretched, warmed up, and was hitting a lot more, but was having trouble avoiding being hit. In the event my bouts were mostly even - 5-4, 5-3, 5-3, 4-5, 4-5 - and I lost in DEs to some kid who was fast but not interesting. My first thought after the embarrassment subsided was "I used to be good at this."

Unfortunately, even though I work part-time in a fencing club, I have not trained as much as I have in the past. I also work as an accounting TA and am a fulltime MBA student. While dropping an average of 2lbs a week is extremely good for my current and future help, it might be affecting my fencing as well. The point being - I really don't have time to fully prep for success at an NAC with all this going on, so I am going to walk away from them for a while. Next season (2011-2012) I will be traveling for school and interviewing for full time jobs, as well as trying to graduate - the incentive to spend $500+ for another NAC without some probability of success is insane.

I will still fence locals, and I may travel to tournaments like the Remenyk Open in Chicago or even Georgia Games in Atlanta, but I am done with huge fees for a while.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Colorado Cup... Wow

Blaming the slippery floors would be acceptable. I was the only person new to the division that day, and some of the more experienced folks were skating their way to touches. I know how to attack in prime, I teach fencers how to do it and refs how to card for turning the back when it is done incorrectly. Still, every time I tried I did an involuntary pirouette (I think?) and turned my back and slid into my opponent. It sucked.

I don't like losing. I hate losing to people I can and have beat. I loath losing to people I can beat in front of people I know. In order to keep my composure and sanity, I just started cracking jokes and not caring - hoping I could bring it back in the DEs. Facing one of my new students put the end to that plan.

Nothing is appreciably different between this year and last - similar financial pressures are present, my diet is about the same, and I am fencing the same number of tournaments (3) in the fall portion of the local season. The only thing is that there is no familiarity between opponents and I am not practicing five nights a week minimum like I did in the past. The coach at SDFA says I look like I know what I am doing, I just come off as REALLY rusty.

The crappy thing is that there are no local tournaments between now and the North American Cup in Kansas City. I have two events there, Division I and Division II. My stretch goals are top 32 in Div I, and a medal in Div II. The first one is looking pretty far out of reach, and the second is possible but difficult. The only thing I can do is practice my butt off between now and then.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Umm, That Sucked.

There are no excuses. I could breathe, the level of difficulty wasn't too high, and I wasn't exhausted at the end. I just couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with two years fair warning and a sawed off shotgun.

Maybe I need to actually practice more - but my point control was anything but controlled. I could hit on the flèche, but nothing else. No parry riposte, no direct attacks in time, no counter time, no just f'ing hit the guy he's just standing there touches. The worst is that the NAC in Kansas City is coming up fast and I didn't spend $200 to get my ass kicked in my home state.

Between now and then I will work on point control with the wall and anyone who is wearing a maks. Good thing it is Halloween. ;-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Falcon Open this Weekend

Saturday I return to Colorado Springs and glory. I can breathe, I am faster, I am ready.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flying High and I Can't Breathe!!!

The first time I visited the United States Air Force Academy I was about 13 years old. I remember the beauty of the landscape, and the fact that the only interesting building to my young eyes was the famous chapel. My father was a radar operator in the Air Force on the DEW line - and once upon a time I entertained notions of trying to get an appointment as a cadet there.

Even so, I never dreamed I would fence there.

My second full week in Colorado I was convinced to compete in the 2011 Nick Toth Open. Never mind I still haven't gotten used to the altitude here. Even after work on the treadmill, weights, fencing practice, and pretty much walking everywhere - my lungs and my blood supply were still struggling to deal with the thin air and lack of oxygen. However, I never back down from a challenge - especially if someone calls me chicken.

The first bout was difficult - not because my opponent was so skilled, but I had trouble reacting significantly to two tempo actions. A well timed counter-attack got me the victory with a 5-4 score. In another bout, I was up 4-1, but I completely ran out of gas. My opponent went on a run, and only a well timed stop hit gave me a 5-4 win. My final pool record was 4-2, with three victories won with a 5-4 score. I didn't care at that point, I thought I was gonna get my butt handed to me.

I started caring a lot more when I saw the seeding after pools. There were 49 fencers seeded into a table of 64 - and there were fencers with better indicators but a 4-2 record with Byes into the round of 32. I won my first DE without too much trouble, but I faced the USAFA coach's son in the 32. I did ok, but I never had the lead.

Even though I had reason to be apprehensive - I remember the old saying: the danger is not setting your goals high and falling short, but setting your goals low and achieving them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


The new fencing season has officially begun, and the Georgia Division has started posting tournaments, starting at Atlanta FC. You will probably see more postings from me soon.

However, I do feel compelled to write about a recent problem of mine.


My future family has only been in danger about three times in the last six years, and even then it was nothing too serious. This year, I am getting nailed every other week. This last time I have resolved to wear a cup.

The trend started in TN a few months back, when a kid who seemed really upset I was going to beat him 5-0 decided to get a little revenge hit after my beautiful parry-riposte. The director was a beginner, and didn't think to card him - and I was in too much pain to demand it. My poor boy (Señor Izquierda) was in pain for two weeks. Funny, the kids coach actually said to me BEFORE the bout that he thought it was insane that men refused to wear cups for fencing. I happened to mention I rarely got hit there.

A few weeks later, I fenced a kid (one of my students) in class, he attacks and hits the floor with his feint. I stop for the light, and he stabs Don Derecha. I go down like a ton of bricks, and lay there for five minutes waiting for the pain to subside and everything to reinflate. I finished the bout (I won), and called it a night.

Tonight, I am fencing another kid, and I attack, he does a parry-riposte but doesn't close the line. I finish with a remise, and he manages to hit the Señor and the Don. After sitting on my honches, I started fencing from a low tierce on guard with the bell guard protecting my guys, and beat him and everyone else that way.

I know it is ultimately my fault, but I can't understand the increasing frequency. I will just have to deal with the extra equipment from now on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Nationals Report

I hate Reno. Ever since I fenced there for an NAC back in 2005 (ish), I didn't like the place. Gambling without excitement, resort hotels without glitz, and food without taste. Reno is Vegas if Vegas was awful. But with some persuasion I fenced team for my home club. While there I noticed some things.

1.) The kiddie fencers (ages 8-13) are really good. Years ago, even at Nationals it was basically whack-a-mole in all three weapons. No more. Some of those kids might embarrass some adults in the Georgia Division.

2.) Mental toughness, not technical strength, seems to rule the day. I still haven't seen anyone beat with superior blade work - just a willingness to risk it all.

3.) Holding off an opposing fencer in team is a lot harder than it looks. It is not often I get smoked like a cigar, but yeah that happened. Worst bout ever. Next time as captain I won't be so swift to sub myself into the match.

4.) The old school guys and gals still make a big deal about who they acknowledge and who they don't. Doesn't matter if you've had a conversation, shared a drink, or the guy sat on your certification board - if you haven't been around for 20 years you get no head nod, much less a handshake.

5.) Fencing still captures the imagination. Whether you've fenced for years, or only seen it in car commercials - it gets your attention. Random folks watched me give a lesson in the hallway, fencers got stopped in elevators by older gamblers - it excites and still has potential to grow.

6.) Pork Stew at the Grand Sierra Resort Buffet. It is good. I turned down chili for this stuff, and I love chili. Best thing I ate the entire trip. Meaty, hearty, with large crisp vegetables and chunks of pork loin. Get it, and get some more.

7.) One more note on food. If you won't eat it after it sat in a room temperature kitchen overnight, you shouldn't eat it before you fence. A lot of my club mates went down with stomach problems after sampling the seafood. Not worth it.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Coletrain, What Do All These Letters F'ing Mean?

Some of my friends who enjoy my writing, but are not fencing aficionados asked for a primer on how ratings and classifications work. Rather than show a event classification chart and have my friends learn not to ask questions and bore the folks who know - I am going to explain in my own superior way how this actually works.

Ratings or classifications officially are used to help seed fencers into pool a in tournaments around the United States. You earn a rating by ended up in a certain place at a tournament with a given strength (measured by the number and variety of fencers with these given ratings). Since fencing is most often done in a tournament format with one winner - many fencers consider renewing or earning ratings as an acceptable consolation for a medal.

Earning a rating in fencing therefore depends on three factors: 2)how well you did, 3) how good is everyone else, 4) how well THEY did. For example, if you are in small event and you kicked ass, great! If the three best guys you didn't fence in direct elimination had an awful day - you might not get a rating. And you will be very angry. If you ever see a picture from a local tournament with an angry teenager with a gold medal around his neck - well, you know why.

In fact, more than any other sport - fencing rewards the people who on paper are supposed to win. Top seeds get the easiest pools, bottom seeds are fed to the lions. Therefore the top seed theoretically should be the top seed at the start of the direct elimination round AND have the easiest path to the final. If you are the top seed and you lose to the young upstart in the round of 16, you could bring down the whole tournament rating - and everyone will hate you. Seriously. Bad things will be said about you. You might get a reputation as the "pretty" one instead of the "good" one.

So, let's say you come into some money and you decide to outfit yourself and your five best college buddies in fencing kit and want to have a tournament. If the local USA Fencing Division board allows it, you can have an event! If you win, CONGRATS you are a brand new E rated fencer! So an E is a guy who can beat a roomful of rank beginners. Don't laugh, that is a tougher accomplishment than you might think. Even so, I wouldn't brag about earning it if you have been in the sport for more than six years.

Every E wants to be a D. Desperately. if you are a D, you theoretically become the top rated fencer in every National Division III (aka D and Under) tournament you enter. There are two common ways to earn a D: win a D rated event, or place highly in a much stronger A or B rated event.

The first option means beating everyone who is around your ability level in your DE path and getting the gold. And if these events didn't last all day, it might be the easier option. Plus, when new ratings are on the line, fencers tend to do a LOT better.

The second option basically means you beat most of the people in your pool, but got knocked out of DEs early. Now this is supposed to be the harder option; if your opponents got a good night's rest, didn't go out drinking, aren't sick, etc. If you are patient and focused, you might pick up touches at 9am that you'd never get at noon.

D, as you might have guessed, is for Desperate. Every D is dying to be a C. A C rated fencer is (or supposed to be) the top seeded fencer in National Division II (C and Under) competition. Cs, for now anyway, are also eligible for National Division I (C and above) competition. Div I is where the big boys play - current and former Olympians and National Champions, folks who take the sport extremely seriously. The C rating is the sweet spot. You can still beat up on Unrated fencers, and you can play with the big boys. Plus it is a rating where many fencers begin to acknowledge you as "good." You earn a C by entering a C rated competition and winning, or by losing in the quarterfinals of a large A rated tournament.

All Cs want to be As. Those who try and fail become Bs. The B is the middle child of fencing ratings. You aren't considered as good as an A, but you are barred from Div II competition. Many fencers that I have known dropped the sport after earning a B. In Georgia foil competition, many folks win a B rated tournament to become a B fencer. In Epee, one earns a B by losing either in the semifinal or final round of a large A rated event.

Everyone wants an A. On their term paper in college, on their performance evaluation (Acceptable) at work, and on the window of the restaurant they are dining. Fencing is no different. If you are an A fencer than you have won a large competition filled with strong fencers who also fenced well, or you did really well at a gigantic competition filled with badasses. In the Southeast, A fencers often get to fence for free in local tournaments, and are often courted into competing. Again, they get the easiest pools and the best path to allow them to renew their A rating. Plus they can brag to friends about being an A fencer - and those friends have a vague clue what that means.

Now these ratings only last four years or so. I for example am a B2007, so unless I find and win a tournament before July 31,2011 - I will become a C2011. Which isn't too bad, since in large tournaments the seeding is about the same. When I get my A this year, I will be an A2011 which would put mr at the top seed of local competition.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Brief Aside

Since I was a small boy, it has always been my dream to fence. The idea of using swords in conventional sport fascinated me in a way basketball, baseball, or soccer never could. Fencing actually became my bridge from being primarily an intellectual to an average sports fan - and I am the better for it.

Both in Minnesota and in Georgia, fencing allowed me to be a part of a community outside of work and the bar scene. I gained friends as a beginner, and I gained respect as my fencing improved and I learned to referee and coach. My social network grew, and people became attached to me as I became attached to them.

Being disconnected, especially when things go wrong is a sorrowful thing. When I took a spill after a night out, I was admonished by no less than 15 people - most of them from the fencing community. When one of my neighbors, who decided to drink himself into oblivion after a night out, died outside his home - only myself and another man were there to watch over him as emergency services arrived. I only met him for the first time the evening before.

Futilely trying to save a man's life tugs at one's heart. Being the only one who cares digs into one's soul. While only he and God know what demons led him to his fate, what I do know is that he had few connections to this life. Even in my darkest hours, there was always someone God had sent to pull me back into the light. A family member, a friend, a frater, a fencer, a pretty girl who thought I was handsome too; there was always someone to pull me from the brink - and chastise me for getting too close.

If you find yourself reading this - click on some ads and then call or meet someone you are close to in your life. If you don't have someone, meet someone. We all have to die, but we shouldn't have to die alone.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Georgia Games - Ugh

Dying at the base camp is pathetic, but it happens. Dying in sight of the summit is tragic.

Oversleeping, running late, and fencing without warming up I still managed a 5-1 pool record. I was 6th of 24 coming out of the pools, and my first opponent after the bye was one of my students. I knew how and when he would attack. I didn't count on missing and being fatigued.

After getting an 10-8 lead, I figured I could make a run, but I just wasn't getting the touch in time. Weapon malfunction could have been a culprit, but not enough for me to think it worth it to change. Even so, I am retiring the body cord I used today.

The worst part about losing that bout is that everyone further up the tree was equally beatable. I was sure today was the day I would win gold and my A. All I can do now is continue to prepare for Senior Team Men's Epee at Nationals, and fence every tournament I can.

On a lighter note, two ad hoc fencing teams assembled to fence after the Open. My team earned second place (ugh, I know), but even so I received a silver Georgia Games medal. Personally, I have found GG medals to be the best basic medal (not including weird shaped medals or trophies of any kind) in fencing, so I am glad I finally got one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

World Cup Fencing in a Hijab

The Wall Street Journal has a great article today on an African-American Muslim saber fencer competing in this weekend's World Cup in New York City. WSJ focuses on how Ms. Muhammad endeavors to keep the tenets of her faith while fencing, especially the requirement that women remain covered.

Fencing certainly allows women to remain modest - it is very difficult to look provocative in a fencing outfit. The few who can have a very particular body type.

One fun note from the article, Ms. Muhammad's current status as top rated female sabeur is a result of her humble beginnings as a high school epeeist.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Have I Been Up To for Four Years?

After perusing the latest USA Fencing Athlete's Handbook, I've learned that if I don't renew or earn a new rating before August 1, 2011 - I will drop down to a C11.

Personally, I thought I had lived up to my B rating, until I took a hard look at my results on over the last four years. It seemed once I earned my B in 2007, my results took a dive and stayed there. There are a couple reasons for that.

First, before having a B I typically completed in two events a day - the Open and the C/D/E and Under, giving me more tournament experience. Work and travel also became a factor. Then there was some laurel resting that excused me from competing in as many events as possible. Add it all up and in those years between 2007 and this season trips to the 8 were rare and only two medal round appearances in that period. Wow. But I did pick up Hilton Diamond Status and Delta Silver medallion three years running!

However, this season I made nine trips to the round of eight or higher out of 18 individual events I competed in this season. Or to be more generous, I had 14 top ten finishes in those 18 events. I only posted three top ten finishes the whole 2007-2008 season after I earned my B. Clearly I am becoming a much better and more consistent fencer, regardless of my initial seeding.

I have a couple more chances to renew or get my A before August. If I don't achieve that goal, I am going to abuse some people in Div II AND Div I competition.

Like Kissing Your Stepsister

It counts, I guess. But if that's all you have going for you - well you are in trouble.

Doubles in Epee are a part of the game. But if you are losing, they are frustrating as all hell. When coaching I get annoyed whenever my fencer has a significant deficit and celebrates a double touch. Sure, it put points on the board - but now your opponent is one point closer to victory, and you must fence the remainder of the bout even more perfectly.

In the round of 8 I was up against a respected veteran fencer, and I was on a high after beating an alumni of Master Zasilmov's program at Ohio State. It seemed he had a general plan to beat me - and for six touches it worked.

He wanted to flèche to my inside, but not so far in that he would draw my parry four. I tried catching him, failed. I tried counterattacking, failed. I tried running, failed harder. Finally I tried attacking into what little preparation he did, and I started getting single lights - until I didn't. I was aiming for just at the crook of the elbow, but he was advancing so fast and subtly - I ended up just doubling on his chest. Eventually I figured it out at 14-13, but not in time to do a perfect attack to tie.

It was a disappointing day. I got sick earlier in the week and was hacking my lungs out all day, and this was the last event where I could earn a rating that would be reflected at Nationals. Plus I had a small pool of five, and managed to come out of the pools 2-2, my worst pool record in months. All that and today's 9th place finish is my best placing at a Dunwoody FC tournament in over a year. So much for home field/club advantage.

The good news is the next tournament is Georgia Games in Marietta, GA. Not at my club, but close enough that I can sleep in.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Happening Again!

5-1 vs a current year A fencer is always a good start. It went down hill from there.

I fenced at the Georgia Division Championship in East Point, and managed to get my clock cleaned again in the DEs. My pool record was 4-2, dropping a loss to a fencer I have beaten four times previous, and one of the lower seeds in my pool.

This record set me up against a wily mid-40s fencer who has had my number for a while. I can usually keep a lead or things under control for a while, but the second I lose track of the distance he is eating my hand alive.

I guess I shouldn't lose track of the distance.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Awesome Car Ad Featuring Epee Fencing

Sure, the video is a complete ripoff of Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" ad, including the background music, but it features Epee and therefore I love it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Good Is Your Worst?

I am not a country music fan, but I think Toby Keith and I could be friends. The best part of frequent work trips to Oklahoma City was visiting the famous Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill. But of his many chart toppers, my favorite has a line that I really love...

I ain't as good as I once was
But I'm as good once, as I ever was

When thinking about fencing, especially since I have nine whole years before I age into Veterans competition, the question for me is "How good am I at my worst?"

Over time I've learned headaches don't bother me, shocks and shots to the groin hurt but don't stop me, and I can fight through fatigue. My stomach however is my Achilles' heel. In 2008 at the Dunwoody Southern Star, I managed to shake off the flu long enough to beat a Mexican girl who offered platonic friendship if I took a dive, only to lose in the round of 32 to a patriarch of Div I fencers from Florida.

Thanks to Jersey Mike's subs, I had a wicked stomachache yesterday morning at Dunwoody FC's May Melee VIII and was struggling in pools. When I fenced a Veteran from an area club and I couldn't land a remise, I knew I was in trouble. I won 5-4, but pools didn't go much better from there. A 3-2 pool record matched me with one of my private students in the 32, and it got ugly very quickly. I took some Alka-Seltzer and laid down much of the afternoon, so my student and I could have a better showing in the team event.

So, my personal best thus far is top 4 in an A2, and second place in a B1. When I am fencing my worst, I end up somewhere in the 32 at locals. If I am to reach my goals, my current best needs to be my future worst.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Promotion Like Self Promotion #2

I started fencing in Minnesota back in 2003. I did beginning foil classes, lost some weight and started gaining some muscle mass. Once I started competing and losing to 12 year old girls I lost a lot of pride too. After a year or so I picked up Epee and fenced both in practice and competition.

After moving to Atlanta, I stuck with one weapon because that was the advice of my coach at the first three weapon club I joined. After a brief break, I joined Decatur Blades fencing, and soon after I earned my first rating and won my first medal - which was stamped with a picture of the tournament organizer's son. Eventually, I joined Dunwoody FC, an Epee only club and I began to win more often.

Above is a picture of all the medals I have won since joining Dunwoody, including...

- An Epee won in a 50 person One Touch tournament
- My USFCA certification as Prevot D'Epee
- The Alpharetta HS team I coached this year
- A card written by a seven year old neighbor I introduced to fencing
- A medallion from the 1976 Montreal Olympic games, a gift for refereeing
- An Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe pin depicting two fencers dueling with guitars
- All the ducks I have earned from national tournaments, my one World Cup appearance, becoming a coach, and becoming the Georgia Division chairman

Fencing 'Round the World

Those of you who have browsed my Twitter feed at the left know I am no saint, but none the less I have been immortalized like the saints in stained glass.

This wonderful work of art (I am on the right) was a gift to the Esgrima Para Todos fencing club in Panama City, Panama. It was presented after a tournament (results posted here) that featured fine competition amongst the local Panamanian clubs and my clubmates from Dunwoody FC.

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the trip to Panama because of another engagement, literally. While I missed out on all the fun, my friend had a beautiful and entertaining wedding weekend.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Teaching Directors, Educating Fencers

Today I fenced at Middle Tennessee State U as part of a fencing clinic. The Epee tournament was an A1, and there were many of us who were itching to get a shiny new A rating.

Pools went much better today, but the event was much less top heavy than AFC. I won all my bouts save one; the single win I had at AFC yesterday beat me 0-5 and kept me very humble. It was probably a gift - Salle Bosco fielded a beginning fencer who was fast enough to beat everyone in my pool, save me. It doesn't matter how fast you are - if I know when and where you are going to go, I'll get there first.

DEs went well until the round of 4. Everyone seemed to plant their feet, which opened up a lot of toe touches and counterattacks. In the round of four I faced a club mate. For those of you following along, you know that has been an issue. Today's issue is that I could solidly parry his flèche, but today (and today only), I couldn't seem to get the riposte. My point was on, and there was probably some "Corps á Corps to avoid the touch" business, but no director was going to see that today. Missing those ripostes equalled 6 or so touches left on the table - and I didn't have enough gas to give back 15 solid fléches of my own.

May Melee in Dunwoody next Friday, time to start running with the kids.

Rough Day at AFC

Whether I have a good showing in the DEs or not, I always seem to struggle in Open Epee pools at Atlanta Fencers Club. It is not terribly far from my place, and I usually grab breakfast on the way - but no dice on Saturday.

After two weekends of climbing out of pools undefeated, I serve up a record of 1-3. One of those losses to a fencer who falls forward and remises at the same time. Ugh.

My first DE was difficult, I couldn't control the distance and reliably land touches when timing and the attack were on my side.

My thought is that my legs were more fatigued than I could feel, which caused me to move slower. I might take a page from John Normile and keep a chair near the strip for resting during the breaks. He seems to have good results.

Fencing at Firkin

One pint of Sweetwater 420 makes a serviceable thirst quencher at a DE bout break. More than two, and you are going to get drunk very quickly.

My home club hosted a 21 and over fencing tournament (top 4 fenced) at Firkin and Gryphon in Dunwoody on Friday. We were out on the patio in the moonlight fighting away. While it was all in fun, everyone took the event deadly serious. We fenced off for third for the crowd, having me come in fourth - but after pint #3 and a shot of goldschlager with a fencer who just turned 21, I really didn't care. I actually fenced well, surprisingly.

We also entertained the patrons, especially the families with young children. Everyone seemed to enjoy us and have a good time!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Southeast Section Championships

"Well damn."

That was my first thought as I accepted the fact that I lost my first DE in the round of 16 to a good man and fencer from an area club. I needed to only defeat him to make the round of 8 and qualify for Summer Nationals in Reno.

My second thought was, "At least I don't have to drop hundreds of dollars to go to Reno. Reno sucks." Reno does suck, but I thought I had that bout well in hand.

The day started off well enough. In pools I first faced a new but skilled club mate and beat him 5-0. Thanks to a last minute ejection, I was once again in a pool of 5 - but I found a way to win against all my other opponents. A record of 4-0 put me 4th in the seedings and my own tree to the round of 4 (and renewing my B).

For those of you following along at home, this is the second event (and weekend) in a row I have gone undefeated in pools in an A2 event. The last time I was able to string together such success was when I was battling in local D and Under Epee (D2/C2) events.

However, this is not a local A2 with a few tough guys and a ton of Unrated fencers. The Section Championship is notoriously top heavy with the best fencers from around the Southeast United States, which meant that strong A fencers managed to lose one in the pools; after pool seeding is not a guarantor of success.

So after all this effort, I still have not managed to renew my B, and I will not be fencing in D1A competition in Reno.

After publicly pledging my allegiance to the inside of a bottle, one of my coaches took me aside for a chat. He pointed out that while I fell short of my high, but achievable, goals - in the process I became a much better fencer. While that is not its own reward, it is something to be recognized. Also, though I didn't qualify, 10th place is the best result I have posted at Sectionals ever.

Losing sucks, but the season rolls on. There are some fun locals coming up, including a fencing event at Firkin and Gryphon this week. I will have many chances to renew my B, or even get my A before the calendar year comes to a close.

My new goal is to get my A in epee before December 31, 2011. Wish me luck and come aboard!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Lots of Fencing in Charleston

First off, Apple's iPad rocks. I keep a current copy of the USA Fencing rulebook in iBooks for review, but when arguing a call the PDF search function earns its keep.

Second, I decided to go to this event because the chances of getting my B or A were extremely good. It was a large field in the open th mostly unrated fencers, and the rated fencers were known quantities. Also the one touch and team events would make the whole day fun.

It was not to be. While fencing a nearly perfect pool - I was touched only four times in five bouts - I was still not able to control the bout with a C11 in the round of 16. I should have punished him for taking three touches to understand me by making him chase me, but I didn't count on missing. Worse, the next opponent waiting in the round of 8 I have defeated before; beating him again would renew my B. So I now proceed into Sectionals with an old rating, but it is a top heavy event anyway.

The one touch event turned out better. There was no DE tree, just random pairings and an ALIVE or DEAD pile for your name after the bout was over. My first bout was between the pools and DEs of the open, with the same guy I would have had to beat in the 8. With swift determination, I won that bout. The next bout was after losing in the 16, and the poor kid I faced was lucky I didn't kill him for real. After that, I fenced a woman in a pirate wench wig, and she was not happy about losing. I replied, "Lady, this event is all I got." The semi final was against the top epee fencer in my club (and likely the Southeast). I think his loss was assuaged with the top prize in the open.

In the final, I faced the man who denied me my renewed B. The organizer proclaimed that a brand new Epee would go to the winner. In the case of a double touch, we would have to settle for pirate bandanas. In the bout, I danced with him, then I decided to pull him in and attack with a lunge. I put enough on it so a parry-riposte was all but impossible, so a counterattack would be the most effective answer for him. Too bad his counterattack as late.

Team, as usual was a lot of fun. The organizer put a handicap on teams who stacked the deck with rated fencers. Trading our A with his unrated sister seemed to be the happy solution, and gave us the top spot.

Even though I didn't get my A or B, it was a fun tournament. It's also nice when my club takes first prize in each event.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No Promotion Like Self Promotion

The Alpharetta and Roswell Revue and News did a story this week on Alpharetta High School's surprisingly successful fencing season. I of course give all credit to the hard work of the kids. :-)

At Least 8th is Better Than 12th

Ouch. So, I committed to only dropping one pool bout at AFC Easter Bash, but my opponents refused to cooperate. My first loss came against a kid who refused to let me hit his hand. I should have just taken his blade and fed mine to him - but I didn't. The second lost came against a man who could fight harder than anyone in my pool, and I just couldn't keep my point on.

So with a 3-2 record, I faced the other guy with a 3-2 record. It was close, and we traded the lead a lot, but I couldn't get more than one point up on him. At 14-13, I tried to set up a flèche, but he picked off my hand twice in a row.

It is not a happy result, but I have one more local tournament in South Carolina before Sectionals. I am hoping to have happy news there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting out of the 8s

In fencing, 8 is not enough. In 4 of my last five events, I landed in 8th place. In one of them, I needed only to advance to the round of 4 to improve my rating. In the rest, I needed to make or win the final.

Also true of the last five events is my pool record has suffered. Early mornings, early afternoons - no matter the start I have been dropping two bouts instead of the one bout I used to drop earlier in the season.

Most of the reason for the losses is that I am rushing actions. However after reviewing myself on video, I find that my footwork gets sluggish as my actions get larger when I rush. So I think I am going faster, but I am really slower.

On the flip side, 8th place is a lot better than my results from last season. Again, after reviewing the tape - my point control has increased tremendously. Any point on the hand is available target to me, even on a flèche. My flicks are much cleaner, and I have a great parry-riposte against the flèche. All I need is to clean up my pool bouts and start beating people from my own club and I will have my A very soon.

As an aside, few people - including myself truly look good in a fencing uniform. Here is me at my best in my FIE uniform.

Ugh, I still remember my pants nearly falling down. I got the touch though!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Why Beginning Lady Epeeists Should Fence Men

After refereeing At the Georgia divisional qualifiers, I noticed that with few exceptions, the girls who fenced extremely well were the ones who fenced men or large boys on a regular basis. In the High School and at regional and National tournaments the fencing events are segregated by sex, but not so at the local events. There is often a call for more local female only events, but at least in the Southeast the major players never seem to come out.

My thought is that I'd rather train girls to beat or at least hold their own against the toughest boys, and in turn they will run roughshod over all but the best girls. The theory comes from an inspirational short story I heard years ago. A version of it is below.
There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared to him.

The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture - placing thoughts in the man's mind, such as ``Why kill yourself over this?, you're never going to move it!'' or ``Boy, you've been at it a long time and you haven't even scratched the surface!'' etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn't moving the massive stone.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. ``Why kill myself?'' he thought. ``I'll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.'' And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.

``Lord,'' he said, ``I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?''

To this the Lord responded compassionately, ``My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven't succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.''

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Less Foolish in Newberry

First off, Homewood Suites rocks. A two bedroom king/queen has four beds (including fold out sofa) for just under $200. It's a great deal for 4 adults, and the room is gorgeous and comfortable to boot. Thanks Homewood Suites-Gainesville!

Fencing threatened to look the same today as yesterday. My left contact lens popped out before we reached the venue, and my left spectacle lens popped out in the middle of my third bout. I ended up 2-2 in yet another 5 person pool, the Bain of imperfect fencers.

DEs worked out a bit better. I faced the 21st seed out of 22, a small kid who didn't believe in remises. Knowing that I had much stiffer competition after him, I tried to fence him as strong and conservatively as possible. We ended up 14-2 after running out of time.

The next DE was against the 5th seed, and based on his attitude you would have thought he was an A. His fencing was a different matter. Attacking in distance and not landing is deadly in all three weapons, but he just wouldn't stop. Aside from a few attacks to keep him honest, most of my touches were easy counterattacks. I know I have a date with P90X and some situps, but do I really look that slow?

The following DE was against my club mate, the same one who beat me 15-9 in Statesboro, and won the event. Winning was the only option, but experience and history were trying to dissuade me. I got down 3 early in the bout, but I managed to bring it back to 11-11 by the second break. Sure, the event was an A1, so I wouldn't renew my B with a win, but I still wanted it. At 14-12, I figured hitting the hand would bring me to 15, and I saw his hand enough under his bell guard to get me to believe it. Unfortunately, I didn't count on not being able to fight for touches after the action got ugly, and I lost 14-15. A loss, but a significant improvement.

I am still annoyed that I lost, and that the event fell from an A2 to an A1, but my fencing (at least in DEs) is both consistent and showing slight improvement with every encounter. Plus, I am still continuing the tradition of getting knocked out of the direct elimination round by a current or past member of my club.

Foolish in Statesboro

The best thing about Statesboro is the waitstaff. Not the service, the look of the staff. The fact that a waitress/kitchen can't tell the difference between ranch and blue cheese dipping sauce is a lot easier to swallow when the waitress looks both hot and attainable.

Fencing wasn't as pretty. Less is more in most avenues in life, and fencing is no exception. My parry 8 is strong like the Earth, but if someone simply jabs at me it is useless. Add that to yet ANOTHER 5 person pool, and I ended up 2-2 after pools. My first DE was against an older C who was both lefty and crafty. I was slow and doing too much, and only my strong 8 parry-riposte saved me from a 15-14 defeat.

My next DE was against my club mate/coach, who has a Junior World Cup medal and 20 years of fencing experience. And he's only 26. No one was more shocked than I when I jumped to a 4-2 lead, my best competition result of any kind against him. Since these things go to 15, there was still a ways to go. My actions got large and sloppy, when small was getting it done. I lost 15-9.

After beating me, my club mate asked how would I coach myself if I could see myself. It's a curious question, and it helped me really analyze what went wrong. The biggest thing was I needed to own my lead, and force my opponents to work to my strengths instead of the exact opposite. Hitting the hand, flèche, and parry riposte work well. I need to focus there.

From there we drove to Gainesville...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Still trying to Renew my B

March is almost gone, next weekend I am ref'ing. I have 8 months to renew my B rating, or I drop to a C12 on Jan 1st, 2012. Of course, there is a tournament on that day and I could try to re-earn it then... But I would rather it not come to that.

Personally, having a C is better than having a B. You can still fence Div2 events and beat up on beginners, and at Div I events the ratings below A don't tell you much anyway. Even so, losing it would be embarrassing.

Last Saturday I was in Huntsville, AL for the Rocket City Open. The event was rated a B1, but I knew there were high level fencers in the area that still could come out and make it a A2 event at the last second. Ahh, no such luck. It was good to get out of Georgia and fence different styles, especially with Southeast Sectionals coming up.

My pool seemed to hum along until I lost to the other B in my pool. I rushed the bout, even thought it was to my disadvantage to do so. Then I lost to a girl who fences for her club at Indiana U. Badly. The score after 2:20 was 5-1, and my only touch was a double. Thank heavens no one told me she was a U - I would have done something stupid.

Worst of all, these losses made me forget all about my awesome beat-disarm attack with lunge earlier in the pool. It was pretty cool to see.

Thanks to a 3-2 record, I had to face my teenage girl student whose mother drove us to the event. Well, walking is good for the soul, right? I won 15-6, and kept my distance until the frustration wore off.

Next was the IU girl again. I watched her in her first DE. She never moved much, but she never stood still. And she took away the low line attacks by shifting her butt back and her shoulders forward. Did I mention she was tall? And the weirdest thing was that she was strong. Not really strong, but enough to remise or counterattack through anything I was trying. So I was down 5-3, and we doubled all the way to 13-11. She seemed content to just double out. I wasn't about to lose this early. Since I hit her hand early on, I kept beating and working to her hand. I figured I would either see it eventually, get her to counter and I would catch the top of her arm, or out of frustration or fatigue she would drop her hand. Eventually, she dropped her hand and I fléched for her shoulder. She didn't see it coming because I am just that damned good, and because I hadn't done it to her. It had to be fast because a beat attack would draw her counter, and since I was aiming for her shoulder there was nowhere to remise. Three in a row got me to 14-13. I figured she was all set to counterattack on a fourth flèche, so a nice deep medium speed lunge would be worth a double. 15-14 is good enough.

The next round I faced a guy who is fast enough for his new C11 rating, but still has an en garde of his old E rating. Once I established a lead with touches to the hand, I knew I wouldn't lose it.

The final for my B was against another club mate and child of my ride. Only he was talking smack and not interested in losing. While I executed nice hand touches, most of my points came by punishing his mistakes, not actually making things happen. When in distance I got gun shy instead of mowing him down. When he earned the 13th touch, I fought back hard to make a game of it, but by then I was fencing for pride and not for the gold.

Next time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

10 Worst Misses in Epee

I am training for Sectionals/Nationals right now, and I am trying to correct some of the crazy stuff going on in my game. I don't think I am alone. In no particular order, here are what I see to be the worst almost touches in Epee. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

1. You reach and give your all, but your all is half an inch short. This one sucks. Most likely because the back shoulder is too far forward.

2. You reach and give your all, and your all equals 749 gram-force. Maybe you are looking back at the light, maybe you missed your opponents half-step back, maybe your barrel needs cleaning, maybe you are a pathetic weakling.

3. You go straight for the arm, he dips his hand and extends. Both points land over/under, but only his light is on. It's a gamble, and you lost.

4. He's an ass anyway, flèche to the face! Only fencing masks are molded with a vertical edge with sloping sides - and your point rides one of the sides without catching. Too bad your butt doesn't have sloping sides for his risposte behind his back. The oohs, ahhs, and golf claps don't help either.

5. He attacks just inside distance. You parry in four in opposition, finishing to the neck. But wait, your barrel gets caught in a channel created by his bending bib not allowing a touch. It's unclear whether the curse word you dropped was for the "no touch" or his remise to the nuts.

6. You see it, it's not going anywhere, so you lunge for the foot. Only you should have aimed for the toe and you glance along the shockingly smooth side of that nice unscratched shoe. It's amazing what clarity your eyes can perceive as you are about to be hit in the face.

7. What a fast hand he has. But some of his glove is always open. You go for it with a lunge, and as you land you can feel him smile when you point lands harmlessly on the edge of the bell guard. You've been discovered, and the man is coming...

8. You see his footwork pattern, and you are timing a lunge just below the shoulder just as he steps forward in the middle of a double advance. Your only worry is making sure he doesn't break your blade. You shoot, you miss, you hit solid in the chest. Who knew he would raise his arm?

9. He's short, and/or he ducks. You don't like it. Fie on him. You step forward, he drops, and you extend and advance with a thrust to the face. Only you land on the top of his mask. A little more pressure and you could catch the back rubber edge of the mask. A little less and you could turn it into a sure flick. But here you are in the muddy middle, your point uselessly on his head, and his point in your neck. Fie on you.

10. And he messed up. He got a hair too close and you have a hair trigger. You fire with a straight lunge to the chest. You feel the tip touch him and begin to retreat into the barrel when... No f'ing way. He takes your blade near the barrel in a high parry, off his chest, and ripostes back to yours. His single light, his touch. You check you weapon in disbelief, it works just fine.

Bonus for foilists. You are rated high in Epee, but learned to fence in foil. You're up against a pure foilist who has no intention of losing in front of his girlifriend. It's 14-14, and you've kept it close by being careful and simple. And then he steps in, chest exposed, as naked as Chrissy Teigen is in your dreams. The fact that his weapon arm is creeping forward at half a snails pace is immaterial, he will never get there in time. Let's end this. Two colored lights fire on the scoreboard. Your planned attack in preparation turned out to be a counterattack. You lose.

Good Coaching Week

If you are a good club mate, a social fencer after you win or lose in a tournament, or you enjoy schadenfreude - chances are you've coached before.

Two weeks ago I certified as a Prevot d'Epee through the US Fencing Coaches Association. Last week one of my students, who didn't fence in a private club at the time, won the ladies High School State Championship. This weekend four of my ladies fencers earned third place in the ladies High School Team State Championship.

Two things were evident from these occurrences. Clearly, I know what I am talking about, because many of my fencers have minimal outside training. And also, I really really hate losing.

Watching one of my fencers win easily feels like watching a flower grow and blossom. Watching one lose badly is like standing on the deck of a sinking battleship while saluting the flag. That last bit feels horrible. Seriously, I haven't had a long island ice tea in about two years, but I needed two last night.

The worst is when the match was winnable, but carelessness made the difference. Ugh, oh well.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cool Link and U! S! A!

Just found this not too long ago. It's a link to an article on the Italian Fencing Federation website. It celebrates one of their fencers competing in the Men's Epee World Cup held as part of the 2009 Arnold Classic Sports Festival.

Yea, I beat him.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Struggling in Practice

Right now I am in training for no tournament in particular, but Sectionals will be in Georgia extremely soon, and the Queen City ROC in Charlotte comes up in March.

At practice, when I am not coaching, giving lessons, etc. I end up fencing someone in a bout that if it were all on the line, I would beat 10/10 - but lately that ain't happening. I'm not getting blown out, but I am not absolutely dominating the person. Sure, my bodycord maybe having issues, as are my weapons, and last Saturday was my first day back after a high fever, but still. Epee fencing is the wrong sport for someone with a lot of pride, but I would almost rather take a touch in practice then needlessly put 100% into an attack and still fail. Then again, do I have enough gas in the tank to put 100% into every single attack against every opponent at the club 4-5 times a week? My ego is much happier finding a weak spot with a given fencer, exploiting it 5-15 times, and being done with it.

It's one thing if everyone is simply getting better, but I am not sure that's the case. Unless I take care of myself and push myself, I am bound to get slower - that's just life. Maybe I should go ahead and finish P90X before I let my pride get involved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

100 Tournaments Later...

Last Saturday was a heartbreaker: the Atlanta Falcons were knocked out of the playoffs and I was only a few touches shy of renewing my B or even getting my A.

Even though I actually got a good nights sleep, it was a chancy morning. I lost my first pool bout to an unrated fencer who kept swiping at my legs out of range of my counterattack. I didn't know his rating at the time, but he looked like easy pickings so I didn't proceed as carefully as I should have. This development killed me because I still had an A to face in the pool, and I knew he would want to avenge his loss to me from two months ago. While it was a close bout, I couldn't control the distance and got doubles when only singles would do. Thanks to the tiny pool, I only had a 2-2 record. For those following at home, this result breaks my streak of only losing one bout in the pools the last few events.

DEs were better, but disappointing. I faced a new fellow Dunwoody FC fencer in the first round (had I won the U bout I would have had a bye), and while he tried his best, it was over pretty quickly. When the ref starts calling epee bouts like foil with all the phrase d'armes terms to keep busy, you know it's gotten ugly. The next round was against the 6th seed, who at first fenced my seeding, not me. Once I got untangled from his multiple circle parries, it was just a matter of controlling the distance and keeping the score gap uncomfortably large. The next round didn't go so well. I got down by 4 touches right away, which forced me to attack to make a game of it. I caught up, but I never controlled the distance, so any miscues and miscalculations were costly.

I am upset, but I am anxious to get out there and try again. Even though my pool record suffered (so drinking... helps?), I still made another trip to the round of eight, which is happening with more regularity. The key is focusing on the pools, and mastering the distance at all costs.

As I was researching my bouts on, I noticed a cool thing - I have reached 100 events in the database. Of course, AskFred doesn't record NAC or National Championship results, and I have at least 10 or so competitions that are pre-Fred acceptance - so I hit the magic number sometime in 2010. Still, I am hit by the significance.

The records start in May 2005, soon after I moved to Atlanta. Right away I went from an unrated fencer to an E in epee. I also largely gave up my interest in being a three weapon fencer, especially since the major three weapon clubs in town discouraged the practice. The trend from that point was strong results in D and under events, and respectable but not good results in the Open events.

Unfortunately, after I got my B, my Open results didn't improve all that much. In fact, in the first 10 events rated A2 or better after I got my B, I only broke into the top 10 once. And that event was on New Years Day and I was completely hungover. The scary thing is that I could guess if less or more drinking would have improved that particular result. The worst bit is that of the three or four folks in GA who have improved their rating to a B or better in the last six months, most have renewed in just a few tries.

In the last couple years I was more committed to work, and seeing friends, and fencing mostly in the Div I NACs - but my results there are in need of examination as well. Right now I have more flexibility to train, coach, and compete - which is showing up in my Open results. It just sucks that it's taken almost six years for me to get to a consistently good level.

My fencing goals now are to be a constant fixture in the top 4 in Open A2 events, and in the top 32 at Div I NACs. Right now, looking at my last five results I am averaging in the bottom half of the 8 - which means I need to win one more DE per event. Given I haven't been blown out yet, it is a reachable goal. My NAC results have not been so kind.

To reach both goals I need to focus and fight for every touch in the pool like it is the Olympic final, and to jealously guard the distance like a drunken princess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shoutouts and Postings

There's no promotion without self-promotion, so check me out on the new services website Betterfly. My posting on the Atlanta Sports page is here.

Also, check out, the online home of the Alpharetta (GA) High School fencing team. These are the guys the snow demons have rescued from my training today. Seriously, three inches of ice and snow in Atlanta have shut down this city like the Death Star.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Eight Long Months...

High school kids in Georgia have it easy. My only exposure to fencing in rural Missouri was through the local public library and luxury car commercials. For a high school freshman interested in competitive fencing and the potential to be good, there are these options.

1. Georgia HS League Monthly tournaments
2. Under 14 Events
3. Under 16 Events
4. Under 20 Events
5. Local Open tournaments

And these are just the Open competitions. From there...
5. Div III D and Under
6. Div II C and Under

And if the kid gets good (after all that tournament exposure)...
7. Div I C and above events
8. World Cups (if invited)

That is a ton of fencing,which is why you see so many fencers go from U to A in epee in only a few short years. It look me much longer to get my B.

In any case, after a long eight month drought, I finally returned to the medal round and left with a bronze in Augusta. I fenced well, but ran into some minor stamina issues. Not that I was too tired to fence, I just was losing the ability to think critically while fencing. And that ability is my singular unique strength.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Getting Good Again

Years ago, I was a fan of a certain action. It's called ducking.

I used to be really good at it too. Unfortunately so many of the fencers above 6' tall (and therefore taller than me) in Georgia tend to fence everyone like they are children. They come on guard normally, then drop their arms half way to the ground. Every now and again I can take my opponents blade up and work my weapon into parry prime, but rarely do I see an opportunity to duck like above in a tournament. Given that the last two guys to beat me in DEs were over six feet tall, I need to find a way to bring this action back.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

When a 5-1 Result Sucks

In a High School tournament, I once lectured a student after she won a bout 5-0. Even though she won handily, she made mistakes that other better fencers could capitalize on later in the day (and did). To her credit, she took my stern lecture with grace and maturity before celebrating her dominating win with her proud mother and friends.

Yesterday, at the Dunwoody New Year's Day tournament, one of my clubmates was none too impressed with my 5-1 pool record. He wanted me to win them all (helping his place in the seeding), and he said my indicator was way too high, with my wins peppered with too many 5-3 results. I countered I had to spot my opponents 3 touches because I was completely nauseous and hungover from New Year's Eve. He wasn't convinced, nor should he have been.

Personally, I fully expected to get slaughtered by every fencer great and small, but having such a high seed after pools (6th of 27) and losing my first DE after the bye was horrible. I didn't expect to win the tournament or even renew my rating yesterday, but the landing hurts more from the higher you fall. I don't regret meeting the cute redhead from Columbia,SC just before midnight, but I wish I was more discriminating about what I drank.

The good news is that this is the third local tournament in a row where I have turned in a one loss record, and each DE loss has been to a Dunwoody fencer. Good pool results are essential at National tournaments and qualifiers, so this is very good. At some point I need to renew my rating this year, else I would drop to a C12 next year. At a local, this means I need to start winning DEs. So, either I start creaming my own on a regular basis, or hit the road and earn my rating out of the area.

Cody Mattern is Cool - 2010 Atlanta NAC

Finally, another NAC on home turf, less than 20min from my house. Plus I know where the good parking is, and I have brand new weapons. Unfortunately, even with plenty of sleep I still turned in the same result as the Cincinnati NAC, a 1-5 result but with a better indicator.

Again, I didn't feel outclassed, but at least this time my coach hit upon the main issue. As my footwork gets faster, I am tending to miss. Not by much, but I am missing enough to turn possible singles to doubles or worse. Back to the target speed I go!

However, I did get a chance to meet Cody Mattern, one of the top fencers in the US, and pretty cool too. He is fun to watch because he doesn't have many actions that a good epee coach anywhere can't teach you. He just happens to do them very very well.

Oh, and I did find one picture of me fencing. Too bad you only see my arm and epee, but I got the touch!