27 Jan

“Today,” my fencing coach announced last Monday as she walked into position in front of her line of fifteen students, me comfortably in the muddle neither at the center or one of the ends — “is all about Kenny.”

Twenty two eyes turn in my direction, some not as quickly as others (oh so that’s Kenny). Yeah that’s me, folks. The old guy who keeps coming back.

There’s a comfortable anonymity to practice, one of the reasons I enjoy it more than tournaments (a sentiment I hear quite often, actually). It’s easy to blend in, become invisible, your flaws and errors lost in a sea of driils and scrimmages.

All about me? I make a casual observation during practice one day, about how I still can’t beat a straight attack — and literally the next day, coach is making it the focus of class. “How many of you have fenced Kenny?” About eight hands raise, and then she’s asking each one if they can beat me with a straight attack, and only one guy says no and I know he’s wrong.

By the tine she asks “Why is it so easy to beat Kenny with a straight attack?” I’m ready to tear up the floor boards and hide. The answers are honest and accurate – “he gets too close,” “his parries are too wild.” Hearing the truth surprisingly doesn’t exacerbate my self-consciousness. In fact, I feel relieved. I can face the truth, nod in agreement, and move on to that evening’s drills on distance and parrying.

The further I get into fencing, the less I’ll be able to hide. Guess I have to learn to get comfortable with my visibility.

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