Sunday, August 06, 2006

Summer epee: wacky attacks and gloating

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 -


elizabeth said...

Favorite image - hands down - with your back turned while you block him with your bum and thrust under your arm.
Better still because of Mr. Ho. What would Mr Ho do if you just ran up to him and kissed him full on the mouth - and then slapped his ass. Bet he'd die.

Yoga Korunta said...

Elizabeth, you will skewer Gerald every time within six months!

Cap'n Dyke said...

Okay, I have t'use that vertical jump and th'bum-move when ye fight Commodore Twittlepoop! Tell me I can, Me P.L./Assassin!

funchilde said...

first, loved the las vegas post. didn't comment b/c well...what the hell could i possibly say to that?

second, your epee stories are so friggin' hilarious! i love the characterizations...i so want to buy Mr. Ho some weed or something and to bring you cold water and towel off your face or something in front of these other people so that they could see you have FANS, a FOLLOWING, something that screams...don't dick with this chick there's people that got her back!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Mr Ho - currently I am the only person that talks sass to him as I keep trying to trick him into giving me a lesson. When he told me he wouldn't give a lesson because I only fence two days a week, I said, "Only two days....with you." which made William moan and cover his face - "You're NEVER going to get a lesson now." he told me.

Please feel free to use any of these moves - since the Beth-Gerald school of Epee is a firm believer of "everything works once" idea. Gerald is a 20 year instructor of some obscure martial art so his hand-eye reflexes are really good. Also, he is used to attacking on angles so when he fences better classical fencers like Amanda or Brian I am usually shouting - "Angular, not linear!" Because there is simply no way to anticipate his different bizaare attacks - it is when he tries to fence classical style that he loses.

The same night, during another bout I lunged and Gerald retreated so he was less than an inch out of reach, I recovered forward and lunged again, skewering him: "If you'd let me get it the first time," I told him, "I wouldn't have to puncture your lung like that."

Sober @ Sundown said...

You are too funny! I wish you were down here, I might take up epee. BTW, my fencing coach is as cantankerous as yours.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I had one fencing lesson in my life. I couldn't wear glasses with the mask, and so I got about a bajillion points scored on me. All the five year old kids wanted to partner with me because they could beat the crap out of me. It was too horrible.

GayProf said...

I know nothing about fencing – seriously. Still, I agree with Mr. Ho. How would mountain climbing build upon this skill set?

Kudos to your ambition for being a non-violent female assassin. Maybe instead of killing folk you could just stealthily give them fresh cups of coffee?

kathz said...

Brilliant post (I'm only just catching up on the blogs and commenting on little but this made me laugh out loud). It made me regret the August break here, however.

Jonathan said...

I know you said it was okay, but you're getting proper credit for any and all "special attacks" I steal from you, m'kay?

No, really, this is important: I'm going to attempt to write a comic about fencing. It'll be all Shounen Anime styled, with exaggerated dialogue and body proportions... and of course, a ton of crazy special attacks.

Someday, you should try the one original move I have to my name: the crossover fleche, a.k.a. "Dragon Coil". Basically, step forward with your back leg into a "reversed" fencing stance, then use the power of your new front foot to launch yourself even further into a fleche. Be sure to momentarily wrap your free arm behind you so it doesn't get in the way. It's based on a Tai-Chi concept of power flowing diagonally through the body, from the leg and through the waist and into the arm: The twist of your waist to bring your sword arm back front adds extra momentum your attack.

Depending on your reflexes and balance, you might also want to try the linear bounce, or "Dragon Gatekey": from normal fencing stance, hop forward briefly, putting weight on the tip of your front foot, rather than heel first. Using the muscles of your calves, spring forward into a fleche, or backwards to escape a startled counterattack from your opponent. Timing is key, as you don't want to place too much weight on your foot, otherwise you won't be able to react fast enough to take advantage of either the attack or retreat.

Best of luck, and also great blog!

Jonathan said...

Wow. I would just like to note that prior to posting that comment, I had not read any of your more recent posts... As if that wasn't obvious. I had such a great time reading through your epee archives though, that I didn't think... Now I just feel like a jackass for suggesting all those things that you "could try." Sorry.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Jonathan, I am glad you like the epee posts, I enjoyed that part of my life so much that I pretty much went from being pulled out of the quarterfinals of one competition (on medical in passing out!) into a wheelchair. It was a special part of my life and I have tried some of those fleche techniques, it is just that I kind of need a mat to learn how to fall far enough BEFORE leaping. The men seem to do it much better, but they also seem to do it ALL the time.

I have definately used the bounce, as well as used a cross-over BACKWARDS bounce (particularly against an agressive fencer) into an instant beat-attack lunge.

Anonymous said...

My coach always yells about yellow cards when people turn their backs durring a bout. I have never actualy seen that done at a tournament but since Adrian (my coach) is a former olympic coach I would think he would know... Thus i would recomend you avoud the 'bum rush' in a tournament.