Signal Victories

Fencing my pools in my first event (Vet WF) just right, keeping focused and not taking any outcome for granted, knowing that it was going to be difficult to win every bout, thinking about how I had fenced my opponents the last time (there aren't that many of us; most of the time we have fenced each other before at some point) and using that knowledge to think about how to fence them that day.

Helping my friend stay focused during her first NAC competition in two and a half years after she injured herself. Helping her watch her opponents and think about one thing at a time that she could work on. Being able to explain to her what happened in her last bout so that she didn’t beat herself up for not fencing it as well as she would have liked.

Learning something during almost every bout (except that last one), including how to make a preparation in epee (woohoo!!! You have no idea how big this is for me, almost as big as being able to follow my coach's instruction; see next victory).

Being able to listen to instruction from my coach in the break between periods during my first DE in Div III WE (not my strongest weapon), and then follow it--thus winning the bout 15-14 after being behind in the first period as much as 4 points (huge in epee). And doing so with an absolutely beautiful parry-riposte as my opponent tried to fleche.

Fencing my second DE in Div III WE against the number 9 seed (I was third from the bottom going into my first) and being ahead for almost the whole of the bout, up to 13! Losing only because I lost focus on the last two touches, in part because I was surprised I had done so well. Understanding why I lost and why I didn’t have to if I had kept my head.

Realizing--honestly, fully, actually believing it myself--that I made some really great touches, particularly in epee, very nicely prepared, in exactly the right time. Bonus: having my opponents say so as well.

Having a friend from childhood whom I hadn't seen in over thirty years come to the competition on Sunday with her wife whom I had never met and having both of them watching me fence my second (and, therefore, less strong) weapon, and being able to a) still enjoy the bouts, despite losing both of them; b) make several really great touches, and c) know why I was able to make them.

Feeling myself looking into the Pit ("I'm an idiot, I have no idea how to do this, I'll never get any better, I suck") on the fourth day of competition during my pools, and thinking to myself instead: "I'm hungry. And tired. Of course it's hard to stay focused. But I still figured out that last touch pretty well. And I've won 2 and lost 2, that's pretty good. I've made a lot of good touches these past four days." And then going on to win 2 more bouts by thinking properly about how to fence each opponent.

Changing my game in the middle of my second pool bout that same day, getting to 3-5 from 1-4, against the girl who won all of her bouts in our pool.

Keeping my point on target when my opponents were waving their blades wildly about.

Allowing myself to be upset after my last bout without blaming myself for crying. Knowing that it was just nerves and the rush of adrenaline making me feel so devastated. Being able to talk with both of my coaches about what I should have done. Stopping crying before my opponent had to fence her next bout so that I was able to watch it and try to learn what I should have done from seeing how the next opponent fenced her—and won.

Not bringing my disappointment with my last bout home with me (other than to blog about it*).

*Although, truth be told, I'm still pretty upset.


  1. Dear Fencing Bear,
    Thank you for your posts on your pool and DE bouts in Detroit. Fencing is such a mental/physical/emotional combination that it's rare to find the language that can bring the experience so close and real. I celebrate your victories! And I intend to keep a better log of my workouts, opponents, bouts, and goals. Thank you again!

  2. Dear Fencing Bear,
    Fencing is such a metal/physical/emotional combination that it's difficult to find the language that captures the moments of the sport. Your posts on your pool and DE bouts in Detroit have done that brilliantly. I was there with you. I celebrated your victories and learned from the defeats. And part of my learning was to do a better job on logging my workouts, bouts, opponents, and goals. Thank you and thank you for writing about fencing!

  3. Thank you, Metacomet! It was a great weekend all round (even with that last bout), seeing everyone and having so many opportunities to fence. I am happy to hear that my thoughts seem to describe your experience as well. I have been struggling for some time with finding the words as well as the understanding to express what it is we do on the strip. It's good to know it's coming into focus for others as well!


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