As summer drags on, so does the weary epeeist. With the fencing salle largely empty, while others are vacationing, swimming and having barbeques; I try to convince myself that getting bruised in a very hot building in a lot of protective wear is fun, fun, fun!
William had emailed me to let me know that his doctor hadn’t cleared him from his strep-throat so he wouldn’t be there. Mr. Ho does not like ill people because a) they are inferior fencers and b) they could infect his superior fencers. He treats his “professional” fencers a bit like low-immunity race horses. Due to Mr. Ho’s martial arts background I told William I would tell Mr. Ho that he wasn’t sick but up doing special training in the mountains. In the martial arts stories “special training in the mountain” is a sign of dedication. Apparently Mr. Ho doesn’t know those stories.
Rodney and Gerald were again the only epeeists there to begin with so we started to get set up. “Where’s William?” Mr. Ho wanted to know. I gave him the spiel about mountain training. “He’s climbing a mountain!?! That’s no good! He could climb 1,000 mountains and get no better at fencing.” This really agitated Mr. Ho and for the next ten minutes he just walked around randomly shouting, “Why climb a mountain? It’s no good!” Oops, sorry William. Once he calmed down about William he came over and asked Rodney if he was getting fat. What a motivator!
We fenced, did some blade engagement/arm attack practice and fenced some more. I fenced with Rodney, lunged and hit what I thought was his groin. “Missed by inches” he told me. “Oh. I don’t think I’ve ever hit you in the groin.” I said to Rodeny. I turned to Gerald and asked him, “Have I hit you in the groin?”
“Not tonight, Elizabeth” he answered dryly.
Last week in fencing Gerald and I had been reduced to siblings in the back of the car on a road trip as Gerald would say, “Bet you’re not going to lower your hand.” And so I would lower my hand saying, “You can’t tell me what to do!”
Gerald wanted to know my “plan” for the night. I told him I had been watching Luc Besson films like Nikita and Leon as part of my new training program to be a female assassin; but still had issues about not wanting to hurt or kill people and the problem regarding epee that assassins usually attack people from behind, in surprise. So far, I hadn’t been able to work out how to get behind people while fencing to stab them. “What I need,” I told Gerald, “are dirty tricks.”
“Dirty tricks?” Gerald perked up as he picked up his helmet to fence, “I’ll show you dirty tricks.”
“This isn’t where you throw down money and then hit people when they try to pick it up is it?”
He just gave me a withering look and put on his helmet. Rodney called “fence” and Gerald shouted, “look” pointing over my shoulder while straightening his sword and flying at me with a fleche. Come on Gerald, how stupid does you think I....Oh, he hit me. Point Gerald.
Fine! Two can play that game.
As soon as “fence” is called I shout, “Shoelace untied” to Gerald while I lunge. He remains unfazed. Maybe he’s seen that one before. Point Gerald. Fine, the next point I do my “Jumping Jack Flash!” where I jump spread eagle into the air and then immediately lunge upon landing. Gerald is ready but shaken. We get double points.
By this time the entire fencing salle including some people walking down the hall have stopped to watch our match.
In the next point Gerald chases me to the end of the strip before lunging. I step into it and try to hit his arm somehow turning so my back is to Gerald. He tries to run past. I block him with my bum and immediately start thrusting under my arm with the epee, trying to stab Gerald before he can get away. I still have my back to Gerald but run backward down the strip jabbing at him as he tries to escape while gasping from laughter. Somehow he manages to hit me. Curses.
“Elizabeth! First rule of Epee, you must turn around!” Mr Ho is shouting at me. I nod my head gravely as Rodney and Gerald are reduced to helpless laughter. Mr. Ho continues, “If you show back it is easy to hit you. Face forward!” I tell him that I will defiantly give that a try.
Gerald says, “I think we’ve lost what little credibility we had.”
Next I try a move that I actually worked out the day before (yeah, I do think about these things). I crouch on the ground, sword arm out threatening Gerald who looks down at me in confusion. “Ribbit!” And I leap straight up at him. Point Beth. Gerald admits that “Frog attack” is pretty formidable. It worked so well I tried it with Rodney later; successful again!
Gerald and I get to 4-4. I know that Gerald loves to lunge at 4-4 so I prepare a move I saw a German woman use at the World Cup. The second he lunged I leapt vertically as high as I can, aiming my epee straight down at his forearm. He misses his lunge and I start keening with excitement until I see that the tip of my epee has missed his forearm entirely. He recovers and lunges again as I land while screaming “No, No, No!” Bout Gerald.
Please be careful with some of these moves; remember we are trained fencers; no matter what Mr. Ho screams at us.
I finish the evening facing Gerald again. It starts well when I get a beauty of a forearm hit. This inspires a little dance with lots of hip and arm movements. “Mustn’t gloat” Gerald tells me.
“What?” I demand, “Gloating is the point of making hits like that.” Gerald has his game together and starts a series of attacks. But I have magic point and attitude and we get a series of doubles which bring us past 5-5, 6-6 to 7-7. I accompany every double with more mocking hand and body gestures. Waggling my fingers off my nose is a favorite.
I know that Gerald is going to fleche and raise my arm, already tasting the victory dance I am about to invent for him. But as he fleches he uses a strong beat on my blade which flings my arm too far aside to block his attack. I realize a full second before his tip hits that the bout is his and by the time the he touches me I am already screaming in frustration.
“That’s the best way to win, isn’t it Gerald” I say as we shake hands, “having your opponent screaming in the horror of defeat before you even touch them.” He looks at me and gloats, just a little.
Pic 1 -http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39970000/jpg/_39970868_fencing_203x152gi.jpg