Cold Feet

I do not want to fence this event today. Not. Not. Not. I am terrified. Who am I kidding, thinking I can fence epee? I'm a foilist, I don't practice epee. What on earth was I thinking signing up for this event?

Okay, so I've fenced it before. Several times, in fact. Over the past two (or is it three?) years. And I always lose. Badly. Even worse than I did yesterday. Okay, no, yesterday was pretty bad, and even in epee, I have occasionally won the odd bout. But. This is ridiculous. What do I think is going to happen? That I am suddenly going to discover a hidden talent, find that, in truth, I am really an epeeist? That all the struggles that I've been having in fencing were simply owing to the fact that I was fencing the wrong weapon? Yeah, right.

Yeah. Right. I do think this. I think about how hard I found it learning to start an attack in foil, so terrified was I of getting hit, but in epee, there is much less advantage in going first (at least, it seems that way to me). Go first in epee and you just get hit before your attack can land and since there is no priority, you're toast. In foil, if you flinch on the way in, you lose your priority, but in epee you can flinch all you like--you've still been hit already. Um. It's because epee is ostensibly slower, yeah, that's it. Because you need to be really, really patient in setting up your attacks. One flinch and you're done for if your opponent sees you coming and you don't hit her first.

But then why do I keep getting hit by all these great fleche attacks in epee if my strength as a foilist is in my parry? Alas, maybe I just suck at fencing, not just in foil. What is it that I am looking for here? Some reassurance that I am allowed to fence, even if I do suck? Well, I think I know that. The better fencers are always happy to have someone help them with their indicators, and what better indicator can you get than winning a bout 5-0? More fool me if I give them the opportunity, but they certainly aren't going to begrudge me the offering in pools. Nor will they worry about having a warm-up DE, just to get their adrenaline flowing for the real bouts further up the table. So that isn't it.

So what is it? That I hate feeling ridiculous. Which I do when I clearly don't have a clue what to do. And I'm not a beginner, so I should. Have a clue. Be an A already. For goodness' sake, why aren't I? So-and-so is and she started fencing a year after I did. (Cue Hurry Up.) But maybe it will never happen, I will never be an A. Probably not even a B. So how about a C? Right. I haven't even been able to renew my D in two years, although I did place high enough at Summer Nationals to make an E. Twice. So I'm a double E, just like my shoe size. (Joke, I don't remember how wide my feet are. Wide.)

I am not good at not being the best at something. Not. Not. Not. I hate it. But what am I to do, quit just because I'm not and probably (almost certainly) never will be? Big fish, small pond. Small fish, big pond. Which is it going to be? Fencing is already a pretty small pond. And it's not that I am that small of a fish. Two medals at Summer Nationals in the past two years is not that bad. But it's not the best. And I want to be the best. It's just that I still haven't a clue how to practice so as to be the best.

Try harder, I know. Concentrate better. See the patterns, understand the actions. Something. There has got to be something I can actually do. Study harder. You know. Something other than chasing that elusive thing called talent. Which despite everything that I've read and know about how genius is in the sweat, I still believe. Because otherwise, I would see the patterns, know what action to use. Just like my son could when he was 11 and quit fencing because he found it so boring. It was too easy for him to see what to do, there simply wasn't any challenge.

So I'm an idiot. A child could fence better than I do. Many of them do. They have It and I don't. And all the footwork and point control and conditioning in the world won't change that. So should I quit? I could just not fence today. Go to the venue and simply watch my friends. It would save me the grief and humiliation that I am bound to feel when I get on that strip and haven't a clue what to do. It's tempting. Boy, oh, boy, is it tempting. So why exactly am I looking at the clock and worrying about whether it is time to start getting dressed so that I can go check in and warm up?


  1. I think it is healthy for competitive and driven people like us to have activities at which we are not the best. At least I know that for me the experience of striving and improving but not winning first place, not being the very best, keeps me both humble and hungry to do more, to keep going. So yesterday I ran a half marathon. I did not even come close to winning the race, but I was about 15 minutes faster than when I ran my first one in February of this year. And the next one I do, I will try my best to make it faster still. But I know there is not a snowball's chance that I will win it either.

  2. I do know what you mean: it is the only way we truly learn. My sister said something a few months ago when we were talking, about how it is harder for those who have done well in school all their lives to deal with criticism than it is for those who got Bs and Cs. The latter got "bad" grades--and survived to improve. The "good" students got As--and never knew what it was like to have to change. This definitely applies in physical activities as well. I need to write more about this! Oh, and well done on your half marathon!!!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog post. I look forward to hearing what you think!


Popular posts from this blog

Talking Points: Three Cheers for White Men

Why Dorothy Kim Hates Me

Make the Middle Ages Dark Again

Lorem Ipsum

How to Signal You Are Not a White Supremacist