Schermaonline interviewing the World number 1 epeeist Sherraine MacKay about her balance of technical, mental and physical: All I know is for myself I have about equal share of all. Of course, on each day it changes... especially for women. Sometimes we are stronger physically, superior technically, sometimes we are unbeatable mentally. It really depends on the day which is why it is important to have all three at your command. Maybe the day of the Olympics you won’t be able to do a parry-riposte but you will have the presence of mind to attack into their preparation to avoid having to do a parry!
Can’t say I’ve had that problem at the Olympics yet. But I agree with Sherraine; it’s good to realize that things are going to be up and down (emotionally too!) and to plan for it. On Monday, my first day fencing since my little tantrum, I was not in good form. Two different people asked me if I was sick. No! But thanks for the compliment!
During the bouts I practiced what I call “fencing blind”; feeling in my fingers the pressure on my blade from my opponents blade in order to know which way the opponent is about to parry so I can slip around their guard for a touch. If I ever get it, I will be a fencing genius, particularly if it can be done while attacking/lunging. Someone once told me that parries are just your opponent telling you where they want to die: on your original attack line or in the new one they are opening up for you. Like many sports sayings, it takes seconds to say but years to learn how to do it.
I could not get my epee tip to hit where I wanted. That’s just the way it goes some days. Most people have to do multiple attacks on the hand or arm for each point, Brian does one. Brian credits himself as the world’s laziest fencer. He hardly moves, he only gets arm hits but he has five years practice at seeing and hitting the slightest opening. My problem: I don’t have enough different attacks. I have worked weeks on arm attack precision, a couple weeks on lunging and timing and pretty much, that’s it. I’m a builder who has...a hammer. What’s that? Need a wrench? Uh, let’s try hammering it. I try an arm attack. Missed. Okay, how about long lunge to the arm? Missed. Leg hit? Missed. Repeat after me, “I’m not getting humiliated, because it is all good practice.”
The rest of the bouts? “It is all good practice.”
On Friday I do an hour of speed drills and lunging/retreat lines in the parking lot. People close their windows due to prolonged gasping and grunting. I follow up with a half hour of ping pong hits. My heart feels fine (my body feels like roadkill). Two hours and two pain pills later I am at the YM/YWCA: 150 minutes of fencing!
I expect to be sluggish but instead my epee has a magic point. My brain is lightning fast. Does this mean God loves me, or that my hormones or stars are in alignment? Does it matter? I chastise the other fencers up and down the strip, and my two bouts with Amanda are 4-5, 4-5 (During the last point I gave a little scream after I got past her guard but missed the winning touch, just in time for her to recover and get the point).
Gerald’s leaving the next day for three weeks in Havana, Cuba and I wanted to give him a present: total defeat (otherwise he’ll just drink wine, eat rich food and generally have a good time). Unfortunately, other than Amanda, no one can touch him, including me. After our five point bout where he outsmarted me with timing I step in close and lay down the challenge. “You owe me 10 points.” He looked at me with steel and amusement in his eye. “Before you leave.” He promises.
An hour later, after vowing to the slumped and defeated shoulders of William and Steve that Gerald WOULD go down, we faced off. Gerald had already turned down my offer that he might want to sprint around the block to get sufficiently winded. The last week I have practiced retreating attacks (watch out, she has claws!) which starts to come in handy along with a bit of “fencing blind” from last monday. Gerald pulls a running fleche out of somewhere but I keep whittling him down with arm and shoulder attacks.
I’m leading 9-7, one point from victory, when the milk goes sour. It’s not like I’m not getting past his guard; I see the point on his arm, shoulder, and chest but must have hit too soft as Gerald recovers and gets the light. Three points to Gerald. “Remember my burning eyes.” I called after him, “All your trip I’ll be working on your defeat!” He laughs.
William immediately comes on and I can’t get a point on him either. It’s odd because we usually get doubles (hitting each other simultaneously). I’m down 0-3 when I hit William’s chest hard enough to lift him off the ground; no light. “Halt!” We test the blade. Totally dead. Dead for the bout with William and maybe longer..... I raise my head up to see Gerald staring at me with a look of half apology and half laughter. Did I actually beat him while fencing the last three points with a dead blade? Too late, he’s escaped again. Enjoy your wine and Cuban food Gerald.
I switched blades and spent my frustration on William. “Ow” he said, holding his side. I wiped the blood off of the blade of Maria the Disembowler (figuratively). I have no remorse, I am the warrior queen; fearless and painless (thanks again pharmaceutical’s).
I had a good night. I had a good time. Especially as NO ONE offered me “advice.” Getting the body, the brain and the training to mesh is not a given, it’s a gift. I have a simple philosophy: Work hard to be ready for the bad times, and when there are good times; work harder (while laughing manically and yelling, “I love my blade”). Sometimes, epee is just great.
3 hours ago