This has been a huge week in terms of personal growth and improvement. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been working with the new fencers at the Settmour Swamp practice on Tuesday nights. Last week, I ran footwork drills and, in one word on how it went, awkward. I had no idea what I was doing every though I had participated in the drill so many times before but I struggled to do the opposite of the commands I was calling out plus I made the mistake of adding left and right to the mix which just made things really complicated. This week went a lot better. We had 3 brand new fencers plus about half a dozen beginner/intermediate fencers (most of which are up to slow bouting but not full speed yet with a couple recently authorized fencers).
This time, with Orlando’s supervision of myself as well as the new people (it’s hard to watch 6-8 people during footwork drills and correct any mistakes without losing the tempo of the drill). Things went according to plan and we were able to fix some mistakes people were making especially involving overshooting one’s knee when lunging and/or having their front foot slightly off (both of which will cause knee problems later on). Then I remembered that half of our new fencers have never worked with their non-dominant hand at all so I told everybody to switch hands. They looked at me like I’d lost my mind but, thankfully I had Orlando (who is known for his ability to fence well with both hands equally) spoke up saying he always starts training with his non-dominant hand and then switches when he gets tired. I also pointed out that there are going to be times (possibly a lot of times) that they lose their dominant hand and have to fight with their other hand or concede the fight. They seemed to take all of this into mind and switched. We moved on to distance drills in pairs where one person leads and the other maintains distance. Rachael and Kelly decided to take it a step further and whenever Orlando (who was watching the clock so that I could pair off with Wulfgar) called “switch” they also switched hands so that, in the 4 times the drill was run, they each led with both hands and followed with both hands. I felt really good about how was progressing as a teacher (though I got some very large shoes to fill) and I felt really good about how everyone was progressing in their learnings. It feels really good to see people get better and know that I played a part in it (even if it was a very very small part).
So after drills, I did some fencing with Kelly (one of our new fencers who is getting close to authorizing) and she fought really well. She accidentally came in with a percussive shot to my funny bone (sadly, it’s the third time I’ve had that happen) and my arm pretty much went limp. She felt horrible about it but I assured her that I was fine and that accidents happen and just to be careful. She’s starting to notice openings I was leaving and caught me off guard a few times which is really awesome to see. Afterwards, I fought Malcolm which is always a blast. Malcolm is one of my favorite people to fight because I can’t get in my head when I fence him. If I start trying to over-think things, he’s already jumped down my shorts (no, not literally), stabbed me and spun away. I have to fence him at a fast pace and fight completely on reflex and it is a blast. Just like Owynn mentioned last week, Malcolm told me that I was making him work a lot harder to kill me. I go into every fight trying to kill my opponent and, if that isn’t going to happen, I’m going to make them work to kill me. The fact that the two of them (who know my style because they fence me every week) have to work even harder now to kill me makes me feel really good about my fencing.
Yesterday, I drove out to Bhakail (I’m loving how it’s close enough that I can go every week) while Rachael was seeing Alton Brown with her mom. My first fight was with Berrick who fights with curved swords (which is a very very different game). Long story short, it was a blast. I don’t get to fight against curved swords often especially a pair of them while I fight with a dagger and it was a ton of fun. At the EK Rapier Academy a few weeks ago, Berrick taught a class on fighting with curved sword. I took it with two intentions: learning to fight with a curved sword for when I can eventually afford one, and to learn how to fight against one (know yourself, know your opponent). I used this when I fought him and made sure not to let him get blade contact and to not let him close distance. At one point, he closed and we ended up grappling a bit (holding each other’s guards) and I somehow managed to slip lose and catch him in the head.
After catching my breath, I fought a fencer named Eric who I’d never met or fenced before. At one point, he asked me if I was trying not to kill him because I’d parried and had openings to just extend my blade and kill him but I didn’t. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t notice the hole until after we broke back apart. I assured him I wasn’t purposely not killing him and was just slow to pick up on the opportunities and we continued fighting. Next, I fought Melchior with single (his height and long arms give him a serious reach advantage) but I managed to hold my own fairly well and managed to kill him a few times. I started to notice that, somehow, I’m able to bend my arms in ways I didn’t think possible really and managed to throw shots that were beyond what a normal parry could catch. I’m definitely going to keep this in mind and make sure that I can still defend myself with my off hand while throwing shots like that. My last fight of the night was with Declan with rigid parry (in both our cases, a cane/stick). Cane is my second favorite form behind dagger (I like having a variety of range options that dagger gives me) and I tend to fight more aggressively with it than I do otherwise. Last night was no different and I surprised myself with how well I fought with it. Everything slowed down and I was able to think three moves ahead and plan things out that worked beautifully.
Everything this week just clicked into place and I can’t believe it. I fought with a level of confidence that I’ve never been able to manage thus far in my fighting career and it really paid off. I’m so excited to fence in Atlantia this weekend on Night on the Town and then at Southern Region Sunday practice in Iron Bog. This is going to be fun.