First medal

Today was the first in a series of small local tournaments.

7 people in my pool. I won all of my bouts. One of the bouts ended with time running out – neither of us managed to score five touches in the allotted three minutes. The opponent was one of my “old acquaintances”, and I was fencing very defensively, remembering all too well how the attempts to attack him usually end. Possibly, he had similar memories of attacking me, and both of us ended up fencing very cautiously, with lots of feints, complex blade work, distance games, all to get the opponent to attack first. The time ran out with me in the lead – 2:1.

With the victories in the pool, and 20 point difference between touches scored and received, I ended up first in direct elimination table, and got a bye into 16.

The first DE to get into top 8. First period was consistent with my worst results of last season – I made lots of mistakes, got nervous, and couldn’t hit anything, especially the opponent. Fortunately, this wasn’t entirely like the last season. In the next period I changed tactics, and caught up, winning in the third period 15:9.

Quarter-final. My opponent is young and very fast. It was a pretty tough bout, his speed against my cunning plans. The final score was very close – 15:13.

Semi-final. My opponent is a lefty with very solid technique. This was probably the toughest bout of this tournament for me, especially considering my track record against lefties. This time I got lucky – 15:13.

Final DE bout. Opponent has weapon problems, and gets first a yellow, and then a red card. Despite starting the bout with one point lead, and the opponent getting another red card for turning his back to me, while parrying my blade (it’s a safety issue, back of the head is not protected by mask), by the end of first period I was four points behind.
In the second period I was able to adjust to his actions, caught up, then got a small lead.
By the start of third period I was couple of points in the lead, and changed to very defensive tactics – time was now on my side, he was feeling the pressure to catch up as the last three minutes were running out, and I scored a couple more points when he was forced to attack in unfavorable situations. The bout ended on time with the score 14:10.

My first medal!!! And first gold!!!
Feeling very tired, and extremely happy. Can’t stop smiling.

Published in: on September 23, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Comments (2)  

What do I do now?

First competition of my third season was an open tournament a few hours drive from home. For a medium size tournament, the level of competition was quite high – out of 37 people, 7 As and 7 Bs.

In my pool: one A, one B, two Cs, one E, and me. To my big surprise, I only lost one bout … to the E … the only lefty in our pool. And ended up 7th in seeding for direct elimination.

First DE was with an “old acquaintance”, who by then got his D. Victory 15:11.

Second DE was with a very strong C. The bout was very tough, I got a few points lead in the first period, he caught up and got ahead in the second, and all my attempts to catch up in the third were in vain. Defeat 15:13.

As a result, I took 10th place, and got a D rating. Considering that this was my goal for the season, and the season only just started … what do I do now?

I am happy. Looks like my fencing got to a new level, and it feels great!

Published in: on September 16, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Club tournament

It’s still summer, everyone is fairly relaxed, but formally the season already started, first tournaments are pretty soon, time to get ready.

There’re five of us at the club meet. I win three bouts, lose one. One of our fairly strong girs Cs has same result. Since we don’t do DEs at club tournaments, the result is decided by indicators (touches scored minus touches received).

And our indicators are the same too, so we end up sharing 1st place.

Published in: on August 21, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Camp

A local club organized a weekend camp – two full days of training, each day ending with a tournament among “campers”.

I really wanted to go there, but was worried about my heel – having just recovered from the injury, it still hurt a little, and I was worried that a full day of fencing practice might be too much. I called the coach, who was organizing the camp, and explained my situation to him – ok, he didn’t see a problem with me picking which parts of the camp program I could do.

Wow, it’s been a while since I had this much exercise … it’s been decades. Both days started with running. The first day we ran to a nearby lake and back; the second day we also ran full circle around the lake, and that made the run about 3 miles. I surprised myself by making it in one piece, and not crawling behind everyone. Many thanks to a very nice girl athlete who gave me encouragement, and ran the final 100 yard burst with me.

The run was just a warm-up. After that, the real practice started …
No issues with the heel. That is, it did hurt, but doctor told me that it’s ok to practice “as long as you can stand the pain”, and I could. But the last time I’ve done this amount of abs exercises was … never!!! This was the part of practice where I did have to stop a few times.

The rest of the practice went better. In individual lessons the coach was correcting me to use a different technique than what my coaches teach. That was a little strange, but ok. I adjusted technique to what he required, and will add it to my repertoire – need to try and see in which situations this is more applicable – it will help both in bouts with my clubmates, and in tournament bouts with this coach’s students.

The end-of-day tournaments went very well:
On Saturday, I won three pool bouts, lost five, won first DE, and lost in semi-final, sharing 3rd place out of 9.
On Sunday, I won six pool bouts, lost two, won two DEs, and lost 15:14 in the final, taking 2nd place out of 9.

Published in: on August 12, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the right heel

For righ-handed fencer, right heel is a highly likely point of injury. The reason is simple – in a lunge, one spot on the heel takes an impact that is several times the body mass. This makes selecting the shoes with good heel protection very important, and fencing shoe designers give this (among other things) a lot of attention.

Still, despite really good shoes, combined with additional heel protector, I managed to hurt my right heel during one of the “epee nights”. The pain appeared after a lunge. At first, I didn’t pay it a lot of attention, it didn’t hurt that much. By the end of the bout I couldn’t lunge – any kind of footwork that required landing on the heel, was painful. I fenced one more bout, bouncing on my toes the whole time, then iced the heel, and drove home. Driving was somewhat uncomfortable.

The next day I could barely step on the toe. Doctor’s diagnosis – deep bone bruise. I’m lucky, it could have been a fracture. The way it is, I need a week of rest, and then I can fence again, if the pain is bearable; this may prolong healing process, but won’t get in the way of it. I think I’ll rest for a couple of weeks, to be on the safe side. Thankfully, I can work from home.

Published in: on July 20, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Multiple partners

I changed the schedule for this summer. One of the clubs not too far from my office started doing “epee nights” once a week, and I’ve been going there for the last two months. Unfortunately, as a result, I get to spend less time working with my coach, but since this arrangement is only for the summer, we’ll catch up once it’s over.

And the “nights” are proving extremely beneficial. We get 10-15 people each time, several As and Bs, at few first ones we had a guy from Hungarian Olympic pentathlon team. And every “night” is similar to our club tournaments – everyone fences everyone else, no direct elimination.

I never had this amount of bouts with opponents of this level before. This is an extremely important experience that you just cannot get any other way. The result is usually quite predictable, but I’m not handing out easy wins, and on rare occasions I get victories too.

Looks like these “nights” are becoming a permanent thing, not just for the summer. I really don’t want to lose practice with my coach, but will try to make it to the “nights” once a month or so.

Published in: on July 16, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Club tournament

Another club tournament. One defeat, three victories. Second place out of five.

Published in: on May 29, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last tournament, Second season

Same as last year, it’s hard to believe the season is over. Despite all the disappointments, the difference in my performance between last season and this one is huge. I’ve made noticeable progress, and feel a lot more confident both on the strip, and analyzing opponents.

Which didn’t get in the way of me loosing yet another DE. I did very well in the pool: four victories, one defeat, and seeded 5th for direct elimination. Again a bye into 16, and again a defeat in fairly tough DE bout – 15:13.

To compare the two seasons:

Last Season This Season
26th out of 32 9th out of 17
19th out of 34 10th out of 20
40th out of 43 5th out of 40
12th out of 23 8th out of 31
11th out of 29 9th out of 20
19th out of 24 11th out of 27

Not bad at all

Published in: on May 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is darkness your friend?

Big open tournament that I already went to last year.

In my pool: two As, one B, one D, one E, and two of us, unrated. Somehow I managed to beat our E. The D was counter-attacking in response to any real threat from me, and was pretty good at not reacting to feints. One double touch after another – my attack, his counter, point to each.
1:1
2:2
3:3
At this point I decided to risk it, and fleched at him, beating his blade (he counter-attacked) aside while flying.
4:3
I went into very defensive mode, and caught him on attempt to even the score.
5:3

No chance against the As and the B. And I lost to my unrated colleague, ending up 41st seed for direct elimination, out of 65.

And the lights went off.

The power outage came to stay. For some time the organizers thought that the electrons will start running the wires again soon, but stubborn electrons seemed to have had enough of being run into metal rods beating on one another, and would not be moved. Luckily, there were several scoring boxes that could work on batteries, but the batteries were few, and wouldn’t last long. That made for much longer wait for DE bout to start.

By the time I got on the strip, it was starting to get dark already. My opponent was a fairly strong B, I didn’t have many chances to begin with. And it didn’t help that by mid-bout I could no longer see his blade, and not even the tip of my own. Our DE was the last one, the organizers had to stop the tournament, since it was too dark, and impossible to continue normal fencing.

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harmful nature of “Byes”

Another local tournament. I have three victories and one defeat in a pool of 5. Two of the victories are against “old acquaintances”, including the guy who took me out in this circuit’s previous tournament.

I end up 4th in direct elimination seeding, and get a bye into 16. This is not good, I need to change something. Should I start doing worse in pools? The problem is that it’s about 30 minutes between end of pools and start of DE bouts. First round of DE bouts is another 15 minutes, and then another 15 minutes pass before my turn for DE comes up.

So, it’s a full hour of not fencing, and I have cooled down. My opponent is warm and ready, he just fenced a bout 15 minutes ago. My fencing sucked, and I lost 15:11, taking 9th place out of 20. At that time I was absolutely certain that cooling down was the main reason for the loss. Now I’m not sure it was the main reason, but it definitely was a contributing factor.

Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment