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...