6 Apr

A productive day of scrimmaging yesterday. Must have fenced at least a dozen five-touch bouts, one ten-touch, and three or four to fifteen touches. For the record, only one victory, in a five-touch, but I think the analogy to a pre-season game is appropriate — the rules are the same, you’re still keeping score, but what matters during the competition is far more important than the final score. For example — my ten-touch was against my coach, who has routinely shut me out or held me to one or two touches of late (she’s training for a NAC next week, and in her own words, she’s taking no prisoners during practice). Yesterday I got four touches against her, the most I’ve ever gotten against her.

Some takeaways:

  • Once again, I finished stronger than I started. Somehow lost to a sixth-grade newbie that I really should have shut down early in the day, but by the end I was fencing well enough to get four against my coach. If I ever develop my skills enough so that I can survive deep into a tournament, I feel that I can use my stamina to my advantage. But I gotta do something about these slow starts.
  • The best way to develop my skills is to fence a lot. Yes, regular practice with footwork and nailing the tennis ball on the string in my basement is important, but the point of all that work is to improve my muscle memory rather than my mental memory. I do my best fencing when I’m reacting to what I see, feel on strip. Going in with a plan is dangerous for me — when my opponent doesn’t react as I’d planned, I either freeze up or continue with the plan, neither approach being productive.
  • Had a lot of fun. From time to time I lose sight of how much I enjoy this sport; last time was after my disappointment from the January tournament. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving the people this sport attracts (the brightest, most creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting), nor will I lose appreciation for the physical exercise. But if this sport becomes a burden, I don’t know if I’d be able to keep going. That wasn’t my experience yesterday; it was a day of seeing what I could do on strip, how far I could push myself in this sport. No, the results aren’t what I’d like them to be, and it frustrates me that after more than three years of steady practice and training, I’m still slugging it out with newbies. But yesterday showed me that there is great personal enjoyment still to be found in this sport.

Hoping we can have more of these scrimmages in the future. They are an excellent development tool.

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