Monday was an “OW!” day, but that’s a good thing! I started the day with a run, cutting a minute off my best time, with significant huffing and puffing and then on to practice more lunges. I have been practicing lunges for months now, and the harder I try, the worse they seem to get (or the more I realize how inadequate they are?). I also practiced three different attack lines with my ping-pong ball. That night I went to fencing with a focus: work hard, fence hard.
By Tuesday my left arm and shoulder are covered in bruises and there are several strained muscles. Tuesday morning, my heart brings me to consciousness as it goes from 60 beats per minute asleep to over 200 in a P.A.T. attack, which lasts over 10 seconds as I lie there wondering what is happening. The attack finishes with a series of beats so severe and quick that it actually shakes my entire body before returning to normal. I guess I am awake now. I think that means I had a really good workout.
On Monday night, I was the first bout of the evening, working with Rodney on blade manipulation, then bouting with Gerald and William. I was there to work on three things: an long lunge to the arm going outside the opponent's blade; stealing the line and three types of short attacks on the wrist. “Stealing the line” is what I call when I move over so that my blade is pointed directly at the opponents wrist, instead of slightly to one side. Since I am usually taller, it means that if they break their defensive position, I can attack straight ahead, over their guard, but without exposing myself.
Gerald started off by complaining about a groin hit I had given him last week (that hit actually spurred me back to training as I was aiming for his side and got his groin instead - not a good example of point control). He said that there was a bruise line leading right to his groin. “So what you are trying to tell me Gerald,” I said, as we tested swords, “Is this week you were thinking of me in the shower?” Gerald doesn’t blush, but he came close. “Did you get a groin protector?” I asked.
“I tried,” he said, “but they all have holes in them?” I guess the puzzlement I felt showed on my face as he just said, “I know!” But, as it happened, I didn’t hit him in the groin; this week.
William afterward started telling me what I needed to do to win the bout and I told him I didn’t want to hear it, “I didn’t come to win,” I said, and Rodney finished the sentence, “We came to train.” Yeah.
Gerald helped me with training on lunge defense. Kathy, a friend from the US, sent me a section of a fencing book which said that the best way to avoid a defense stopping your blade is to get the person to make the defense as soon as possible, so it can be avoided. This made good sense to me. Only it takes me a few lunges for me to see the defense and then try and avoid it.
Leaving Gerald's 15 minute workout, I went to the other strip and did a 15 point bout with Amanda, focusing on my training in those three areas. She beat me handily. After, I found out from Amanda that she is leaving Saturday to go to the Elite competition. This is one of two competitions in Canada to get points to start the international circuit. Mr. Ho wanted her to be trained up. Oh, well, in that case, my trying to win would actually be helping Amanda right? So I offered to do another bout with her, “for competition training.” She agreed.
Mr. Ho and Gerald came over. Gerald and Mr. Ho were trying to tell me to get double points. As when Amanda trains for competition, Mr. Ho gives her opponent two points for every touch they get on Amanda, sometimes three points. My first argument with Mr. Ho ( a couple months ago) was when I told him that I would take one point but if he wanted to give Amanda two points for her touches on me I wouldn’t mind. That didn't go down so well, and I got a lecture. But I think Mr. Ho is either warming up to me or getting worn down. Mr. Ho pointed out on Monday, that with double points, you can win if you are getting two to one. “Assassins don’t do double points.” I told him, “Assassins target and attack.” Mr. Ho laughed. I told him we were doing single points. Fine, he agreed, I would be the only person doing single points with Amanda.
It was the second hardest bout I have ever fought. I took an early lead, mostly off wrist hits from stealing her line, and then decided to chance a fleche. Bad move; her point. We fought on; she fleched me and I got the point, so we both stopped fleching. I was ahead at the 5 point mark, and she caught up, so I buckled down. When I attacked, it was instinct, adrenaline and lust...I mean blood lust. On one point I lunged so hard that I slid forward several feet with my arm extended to hit her in retreat. I looked down at my back leg, “Bad lunge,” I told Amanda, “my back leg is still bent.” She nodded, yup, and we took the line. My blade wanted to get those points so bad, it was starting to ache. I actually had to restrain myself during the match as my blade started giving me suggestions, or rather suggesting I give into what it wanted, which was to just keep launching myself vertically at Amanda until someone pulled us apart. I tried to convince it that getting her blade out of the way first might make that a better plan.
I led at the 10 point mark when my body started to slow down; we had been fencing for 20 minutes straight. I was still ahead on positioning; I would get inside her guard and race for the touch, only her reactions were faster, about 1/26th of a second faster – just fast enough for her blade to register first. I also missed points as I lost fine control of pressure on my point. Nothing more frustrating than seeing the tip hit an opening, and then not continuing that last few centimeters to depress the tip and get the point. I was still winning strategically, but I didn’t have the reaction time anymore.
I fought on, during one point Amanda lifted wrist to beat my blade, exposing and inch of her hand. “Do it again?” I asked, and as she lifted her hand to beat my blade, I hit her pinkie. Ohhh, she was not pleased. Of course, while that was what I intended to do, it certainly wasn’t what I expected to happen. But I was happy to take the credit. Another point I lunged for her upper arm on the outside, she blocked with a high lunge to my neck, trying to use her arm to push mine aside. I twisted the blade and hung on, finishing with her blade slamming into my neck, pushing me back, but with my blade, twined around her arm, and ending ON TARGET. Okay, I would accept that double point.
Though the bout I kept saying to myself, “There is but one point.” To try and remind myself that it was only this second, and this point that mattered. And I kept that to the end, though my reactions slowed and my stamina failed. Amanda won 15-12 in a bout that lasted 30 minutes. I only had two doubles. When Mr. Ho heard the score he looked a little disturbed. I think he must have sensed I was going to ask for training because he started saying that fencing is like flying, you have to put in the hours. “Amanda has epee for five years.” He said, pointing to her.
“And I’ve fenced it for 5 months, but then, I’m super!” I said back pointing to my chest.
“No, no, it like flying, people can not fly right away.”
“Sure they can,” I told him, “There’s supergirl, there’s superwoman...” Okay, not getting training from him anytime soon.
I went back to the other strip with Gerald and William. Previously, Willam had fenced Amanda and then staggered lethargically though a bout with me. He looked at the sweat pouring off my face and said, “Now you’re going to be like I was.”
“You forget William, exhaustion makes me MORE aggressive.”
“Oh yeah.” He put on his mask and found out. Arm hit, arm hit, BAM.
As I was decimating William, Gerald calls out to me, “Is that I swagger I am starting to see in your step?” Who me?
Gerald came on and we fought back and forth. With two points to go he says, “Now I’m going to have to beat you, or you will become insufferable.” Wrong thing to say, Gerald! I love being insufferable!
I squeak out a point with close body work and then finish him with a lovely lunge to his wrist. At which point I drop to my knees in front of him and start my victory dance/wiggle which ripples up as I rise from my knees to face him. The dance gets slightly out of control when I finish by kissing my blade and my arm repeatedly. “Was that what you meant Gerald?”
William comes back on and we fence some more. The “professionials” quit 20 minutes ago. Everyone else is packed up but we fence on. Eventually the people from the Y are there to kick us out. I fenced from the first bout to the last bout. After, William tries to tell me I am fencing better. “I don’t want to hear it!” I say but then immediately start harassing him, “You better keep training,” I threaten him. “Because otherwise, I will have your ass!”
I’ve fenced so late, Linda shows up wondering where I am. Gerald, William and I are standing together. Gerald is saying that Amanda is still best because she is consistent. While I argue that consistent can become complacent – take chances! William turns to leave and I yell after him, “Keep training! You know I have a picture of your ass on my training wall!”
Gerald, after composing himself asks Linda, “Doesn’t she ever shock you?”
She comforts him, “She used to, but you adjust.”
gifs - http://www.abc.net.au/olympics/2004/galleries/day5_action/images/14_fencing.jpg
7 hours ago