I haven’t blogged about fencing for a while because I am in some sort of painful, bruising metaphorical valley. First I was going to go down and fight Birgit Salas in Seattle two week ago (a trip to Seattle costs me $500 – which is a lot of blood to sell) – unfortunately there wasn’t enough people going, so I had to postpone that. Then there was a mixed epee tournament in which “mixed” meant 18 guys with A-C ratings and 3 females. So I was going to get beaten up, literally. Then the ferry was booked so I would have to stay an extra night, so I had to back out of that. THEN when the results came out the three women came dead last: which made me REALLY want to have gone. Because since I fence like 11 different guys normally, I can’t believe I couldn’t beat at least ONE down in Seattle.
Right now I am doing about 7-8 hours of bouting a week and about 1-2 hours of training. This is a bad ratio. However, when it is freezing outside cross training is a hard motivation. Want to hear what Mr. Ho has to say about cross-training: 1) “What the use?” 2) “You could run to top of mountain and back, how that make you a better fencer?” 3) “Don’t be stupid, no running.”
Mr. Ho however does see me as a person who is preparing for competitions. This means that I get more of his abuse...I mean attention. Like last Tuesday when we did 25 minutes of one to one training, then William and I did three bouts of 5, a 15 point bout and a 10 point bout. Mr. Ho was ref and used the time to make long and extensive comments about anything I did wrong. Yesterday he climbed up some scaffolding left behind to yell out orders ala the commandant in Bridge on the River Kwai. 20 minutes after everyone else had left he has William and I hopping on and off the strip (“Faster, faster, no rest!”), the guy from the Y who wanted to close up the room to go home was there. But we fight on with Mr. Ho saying, “One more 5 point bout between William and Elizabeth” (William is between his first and second trials for the Canada Winter Games, which he has to finish qualifying for, so he gets focus now too).
Some classic Mr. Ho comments from this week:
“You lose point because you empty up there” he says touching my forehead.
“You okay?” He asks me as the sweat is dripping out from the bottom of the mask, “I’m Great!” I say. He comes and hit me on the leg with the sword for lying to him, then we go back to doing lunges.
“Number one thing Elizabeth, stay centered.”
“And Number two,” I say, “Get point.”
“Yes, that important too.”
“In competition fight, fight, fight, you only been fencing one hour and you look tired.”
“Training session and one hour fencing” I mumble.
“What’s that?” Mr. Ho demands.
“Said, I’m not tired Mr. Ho! Let’s fight!”
The last couples weeks I have had what Mr. Ho calls “Combat Training” too, where he suits up and fencing you, giving specific opening, for which, if you don’t hit on time and precisely, he will punish you. He may be old, but he does spend several hours a day with a sword of one type or another in his hand. With me, he plays defense, trying to get me to extend my arm with an opening he can hit. With the guys, he charges, fleches and lunges.
Last night was a good night: Steven, William, Gerald, Rodney and Amanda were there. I bouted parries with Rodney, practiced retreats with Gerald, arm hits with Steven (tall tall Steven), attacks to 4 (the space left of the right arm) with Amanda and engaging the blade with William.
I wish I had a coach. Mr. Ho doesn’t want to invest too much into me, since as he puts it; “You are too old, so old.” Which he tells me every time I ask him for two one to one lessons a week. Last week he said, “With your joints, the more you train, the more pain.”
“Yes, Mr. Ho,” I said, “But it’s MY pain.”
He grunted at that. I’m off in an hour, as while others trick or treat, I fence: a personal lesson, then some bouting, maybe some footwork. I am trying to convince me to show me how to fleche. He says that he will show me in 5 to 6 years, because “I need a good lunge first.” Hopefully tonight he will show me beat attacks. Last week it was avoiding the parry during a lunge. He would parry either right or left while I lunged and I would have to make a SMALL circle to avoid it while not slowing down. Get tired, or get it wrong, and get verbal abuse. “What wrong with you?” Mr. Ho demands.
“Mortality” I tell him.
3 hours ago