27 Oct

Worst case scenario played out at today’s tournament. Lost every bout, once again.

In the round robin I got to four touches one time, three touches in another bout, one touch in three bouts and no touches in the sixth. That makes for an Indicator of -20 (as in minus twenty), for those of you scoring at home. Kept the direct elimination close for a while, but after getting to within 8-7 after the second encounter my opponent took over, finished my miserable morning with a 15-8 defeat.

What went wrong? In a word, distance. Avoided the problem I had in the past, which was getting bound up or missing wide right, my point sailing past the opponent’s far shoulder. None of that today, and if I were to take any encouragement from my performance, that would be about the only thing I could say.

I did a fair job of staying out of lunge distance. But I still have two very large problems. One, I get flat-footed when attacked — I parry, but my opponent’s able to get around or through my blade because they’ve closed the gap. If I could train my body to retreat, just a single step, as I parry, I wouldn’t get hit so often with simple lunges or small disengages. Second, when I attack and get parried, I don’t counter-parry — have a terrible habit of trying to remise my attack, rather than responding to my opponent’s riposte. When this happens, I can only hope my opponent misses, because I’ve lost right of way and am a sitting duck.

And here’s what concerns me about both of these problems — I recognize them, know what to do to correct them, but I can’t get my body to do what I KNOW needs to be done. Six months of intense practice, of trying to retrain my instincts — no improvement.

I’m discouraged. I’m starting to think that it’s time to face reality, to accept that I don’t have what it takes to compete in this sport. Three club tournaments, with no wins in 21 bouts. Yeah, I’ve faced some good fencers and feel no shame in losing to them, but I also know enough about this sport to recognize both good and bad fencing, and seeing some bouts with people I competed against — arms flailing around like some bad production of Hamlet, or a Lord of the Rings parody — I couldn’t help wondering, “How the hell did I lose to this person?”

I still enjoy fencing. Still want to show up for my weeknight classes. But today — today sucked. And right now, I feel like I never want to compete in another tournament. Ever.

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