I went to Tuesday night fencing practice with grim forebodings. The day had sucked, full of those minor omens of doom from leaving the milk out to finding a hole in my clean socks; those host of mishaps which let me that this is a day better spent in bed, if only the neighbor wasn’t hanging his set of 14 pictures on the other side of the wall. “I’m going to lose every bout tonight” I told Linda. But since Tuesday is the night I get a lesson from Mr. Ho, it means if I want to keep getting lessons, I better be there.
Walking down the bus to ride to the Y, we passed a police car staking out our old residence (and setting for Zed), View Towers. An officer had her binoculars trained on an upper floor. We found out later the entire building was on police lockdown due to two drunks on the 16th floor who were having an argument...and had a gun. It’s good to know that building’s zesty charm had not been too altered since we left. But one might ask, AGAIN, why a permit was given to set up a liquor store directly across the street from the building. Oh, those wacky city planners.
At fencing, I suited up and as Mr. Ho got ready, I did my stretching exercises. Mr. Ho was mad at Monica Kwan (who won gold in foil at the Commonwealth Championships). The reason? Monica had pneumonia. To Mr. Ho, this indicated some sort of determination/training weakness (which is why I hide all of mine). He was especially irked because she was supposed to leave to go to the Pan/Am Games in 10 days. I pointed out that sick or not she still might go (since she already fenced after 4 days of food poisoning this year). “She do no good if go.” Mr. Ho determined.
I pointed out that the Pan/Am games come only every 4 years and she might still want to go. “It’s nothing,” he said, “She have to get ready for Olympics.”
This is when my imp of the perverse reared its head, “Yes,” I told him, “I know, I’ve got to start getting ready myself.”
“What!” his eyes bugged in his head, “You cannot go to the Olympics!”
“No, not right now, but let’s see how I do this year.”
I know that my suggesting these things simply drives him insane because to him, if you don’t start at 12 or 14, you are hopeless; except of course that I am actually improving, and I seem too stupid to understand that I shouldn’t. “How old are you?” he asks me.
“Let’s call it ‘in my thirties’” I tell him.
“Oh, you’re too old, Amanda, she train since 15 and Monica train since 12. If you are old, like you, then every time you stretch, it pulls on your joints and then it going to hurt.” He tells me.
“I know (OH I KNOW!),” I tell him, “But Sherriane MacKay is in her 30’s”
I can see the smoke rising from his ears as he tries to figure out how to tell me the difference between MY epee, and the world #1 in epee. “We’ll see how the year goes.” I tell him and leave him looking after me with a disturbed gleam in his eye.
I start my lesson, consisting of arm hits (which I do badly, after a 5 day break), and lunges to the arm, the elbow and the shoulder, in medium, long and super-long lunges. This is, by far, the longest I have ever lunged. I stand with my back heel on the free throw line, and Mr. Ho stands 13 feet away on the baseline. When he moves his blade so I can see his elbow, I launch myself into a lunge, extending 12 feet from back foot to blade tip, the momentum bringing me forward the last couple inches. If he felt I didn’t lunge quickly enough, he would parry. So as soon as the blade was moved, I launch into full extension, ending with my tip in his elbow, the blade arced against his parry...and again...and again. My back leg’s burning. See what happens when you even joke about going to the Olympics.
After the lesson I stagger over to where Brian, William and Amanda are fencing. My mindset was; let’s lose some bouts, work on a few things and get some practice in without hurting myself, or damaging my shoulder. Amanda beats William 5-1 and I come on the strip to face her. She tags me. We get doubles. Then I tag her, and again. And with no real plan other than my brain saying “Gee, I’m really tired, try to not embarrass yourself”, I’m suddenly up 4-3. I lunge, Amanda counter-lunges, I block and lunge to her side. Bout Beth: 5-3. I’m blinking a lot. This is the first bout I have won against Amanda. First ever. First in seven months. While, I win against people who beat Amanda, but I can never beat her. I figured it was a mental block. And now I’ve won, what does that mean?
I fence William and win 5-2. I’m starting to cheer up, the day is looking better for some reason. I know I should be losing, but I’m not; what’s up with that? Brian beats me 5-1, but in the rematch, I am up 3-2, he comes back 3-3. He backs away, dropping his arm by his side. “Wait!” my brain says, “I’ve been trained for this.” And I lunge the 11 feet between us to hit him, on target, on the shoulder. Brian is pissed. He gets aggressive. The next point Brian chases me down the strip with short lunges until he lunges and I duck, making him miss. I poke at him, he at me as I shrink lower and lower to avoid his point, stabbing blinding upwards. Finally, I am curled into a ball at his feet, my point still up, when Brian finally tags me.
“Elizabeth!” comes the shout from behind me. Mr. Ho has been watching the bout. “That is not good way to fight.”
I peek out from behind my knees in my curled up on the floor position, “Thank you Mr. Ho!”
Brian goes on to win 5-4.
It’s odd, because I’m not that good. I mean, I want to be this good, it just that while every other night I say, “now, when he lowers his head to lunge I am going to raise my arm and hit him” I end up missing, tonight I don’t. I fence Amanda again and she is up 2-0 when I do a lunge at her 4 (inside her body) dropping my point under her arm and blade, to come around and finish the lunge hitting her on her shoulder. I’ve done it over a dozen times against her in bouts. These are the ways to miss: tighten the arm, put out the arm too late, overlunge, rise when you lunge, tighten the shoulder, tighten the hand, pull the arm back slightly or make too big a movement when circling her forearm and blade. I have always missed. Tonight I hit within a ½ inch of my target spot. I get an arm hit on her; then a lunge to the body, and suddenly it is 4-4.
Am I going to beat Amanda twice in one night? “Please don’t screw it up” my brain says, which isn’t very helpful right now! She lunges, I parry and her blade is wide, I move forward, almost keening with excitement because I HAVE HER. She is completely open and can’t get her blade back in time. So as I rush forward, I extend my arm and watch as my point skitters diagonally across her body from her shoulder to her waist without the light going off ONCE. As my momentum continues to carry me forward, my tip passes her body and now I am the one exposed, my blade useless completely useless. Yes, I am the tragic character in the summer disaster movie who is looking up at the giant wall of water/flames/falling buildings going, “oh shit!” Amanda has recovered her blade back by this point and taps me, bout Amanda. I fall on one knee and my closed fist taps the ground once before I get up and shake hands. Inside, I am still back on the floor, kicking my feet, pounding the ground going, “Mine, mine, mine! She was open, that point was MINE!” But, I’ve learned as a mature competitor to not do that anymore, at least not until I get home.
Jpeg 2,3 - http://www.studio296.com/fence/2006/EPEE/220906WE/
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