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“where’s the dream that i’ve been after”

June 12, 2011

I have been considering G’s question: “I’d ask you to say more about what you like about fencing.” I tried particularly to think of it more as i was at fencing this week.

When i mentioned it to Jamie, she said, “well, of course you like it: details, uniforms and swords!” When i protested that i particularly like the social aspect of it, she responded that of course i like interacting with people from behind masks. If you are uninterested in reading my musings on the subject, i think that is a fairly accurate primer. Related is that i have always been a huge nerd, particularly about weaponry, but i feel like my history with regard to fencing could be an entire post on its own, so i shall stick with the present.

I realized recently that one of the things i enjoy about fencing is simply the exercise. I am not – have never been – one to exercise for fun or the sake of it – but i enjoy being active. As such, i have never really understood the things that people say about feeling energized or otherwise better after working out. But i have realized that fencing makes me feel better when i am tired, and today it clicked that this is what people are talking about (i think my failure to comprehend this sooner is because my tendency is to play until i am so exhausted i can’t move…and gyms give me the willies).

I find the repetitiveness and detail appealing. Fencing (though i suspect this is true of any sport) requires drill. In bouts, everything happens quickly – you don’t really get to think about what to do next; you need it to be a natural reaction. So you practice it repeatedly until it is habit. But i enjoy that sort of repetitive action on its own merit as well. Blame my OCD if you will.

I also appreciate the finesse of fencing. That is, chutzpah and force will only get you so far. As someone who possesses neither of those qualities, i appreciate that. That is not to say that those are nothing (in fact, i am trying to learn that now), but that they are a few of many things you can use to your advantage. I like that the better you are, the smaller your movements. Not in every way, but that is especially true of bladework. (Practice is generally broken up into two categories: footwork and bladework, which you then combine for more in-depth practice or for bouting.) Generally, you aim to control your blade with the thumb and forefinger – if you move with your wrist or arm your motions become large, which wastes time and effort and moves your point from being aimed at your opponent.

I have a tendency toward being (or wanting to be) a jack-of-all-trades.  For me that has everything to do with a slight obsession with learning. I am pretty well game for learning something new no matter the something. Note: it is important to remember the second half of that descriptor – master of none.  I am rather lacking in ambition, so i don’t tend to get to the point of being great at, well, anything. But the thing about wanting to learn is that there isn’t much point if i am not at least trying to be good – or at the least passable (this is directly related to my competitiveness – i am really okay with being beat by someone better than me, but it makes me irate to lose due to my own error – as in everything, my anger is almost wholly self-focussed). I feel like in fencing, more than anything else i do at the moment, i am always learning, which is thrilling in itself.

Moreover, i am learning from some really fantastic people. I adore the folks in my fencing club. I particularly adore the instructors. I am unclear whether this is because they are actually the closest to in age to myself of everyone, or because they are simply awesome, or because i kind of have a thing for teachers (see, obsessed with learning). Truly, though, everyone in the club is cool. I am particularly fond of the fact that the age of the students ranges from approximately seven to seventy. I believe i also have a dearth of nerds in my social circle. It may come as no surprise that fencing helps with that. Oh, and it is rather nice to be in a primarily male group that is chill and reasonable about my being a girl.

Lady Brett

“Master of Puppets” – Metallica

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 9:33 pm

    I second the entire next to last paragraph. Is it a gemini thing? Jack of all trades, obsession with learning, lack of ambition, thing for teachers… yeah, all of that.

    Now I want to try fencing!

  2. June 21, 2011 10:08 pm

    I love it! Thank you, thank you for such a thoughtful response.

    This line – “So you practice it repeatedly until it is habit. But i enjoy that sort of repetitive action on its own merit as well. Blame my OCD if you will” – is perhaps a large reason why I was successful at sports in high school and college. The repetition, oh the repetition! But somehow it just worked, I’m sure in no small part due to my innate need for drill after drill.

    Thanks again for such an interesting insight into an activity that you love.

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