Posts Tagged ‘epee fencing’

Stop Thinking

on February 3, 2014 in Misc 14 Comments »

little boy

First, a word about the Superbowl.  And remember I live in Denver.

I knew the game was going really stinky awful bad horrible for the Broncos because my neighborhood was silent.  I mean silent as a grave.

See, whenever the Broncos are playing and they score you can hear shouts of joy up and down the streets.  Tonight, however, I only heard one neighbor cry out as if in pain, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

By then I had stopped switching from a repeat of 60 Minutes to see how the game was going.  I didn’t want to think about it.

Which leads me to my next topic: I have discovered that Not Thinking can be very good for me.

As you know I’m an epee fencer.  Not a very good one, but I keep trying.  Well, a huge shock for me is how suddenly, after a few YEARS of fencing, I’m getting MUCH better. Sure, my lessons with Maciek, a gold medalist Olympian, have really helped.  But in the last couple weeks I’ve suddenly started to kick ass.  And all because I’ve learned to shut off my brain.

See, I’ve got a noisy brain.  If you could poke your head into mine, you’d be overwhelmed with chatter, monologues, odd observations, old songs and movie dialogue and God only knows what else.  Yet in fencing, as in a lot of sports, you need to turn off your mind and let your training, experience, and instincts take over.  The physical movements must come faster than conscious thought.

Zorro fencing

Now, at long last, it seems I’m developing the Don’t Think skill.  The result?  Last week, during my third fencing bout, I put myself into a zoned-out Zone.  And I beat someone who ALWAYS beats me with the unbelievable score of 10-3.  In fact, when he yelled the f- word after one of my touches (he was furious with himself, not at me), a few people gathered at the end of the strip and watched us.  Usually I would get self-conscious, but instead I zoned them out and went on to my big win.

And because I won, Jim, a fencing coach and so scary good I haven’t fenced him in at least a year because he consistently creams me, stepped onto my strip. He wanted to fence me.  Holy crap!  This time I had more trouble staying in the Zone, but I still did okay:  he won 10-7.  I mean, I GOT SEVEN POINTS AGAINST JIM! FANTASTIC! HE EVEN TOLD ME I HAD REALLY IMPROVED!

So tonight, as everyone in Denver tries to forget about the Superbowl, I’m dwelling on my Not Thinking breakthrough, and feeling quite happy.

How about you?  Have you found that quieting your mind helps you when you write, play sports, create music, anything?  I’d love to know.

Have a great week.

Swords and Cars

on December 1, 2009 in Misc 3 Comments »

Epee fencing is not for wusses.


Last week in fencing I got a painful bruise on my left butt exactly where that sharp bone sticks out (WHY do I keep hitting that sucker?), a sore left hand, a jacked left knee and a re-injured muscle at the base of my neck.  All because I was retreating too quickly from my oncoming opponent, which made me stumble and fall backwards onto said left buttock, which made me fling my left hand out to break my fall, which jammed my neck and knee.

But the good news is…

While falling backwards I hit my opponent right in his chest and got a point.  Yes, he still went on to win the match.  But I was determined to get him even though I was careening toward the floor and that impressed him.  It certainly impressed me.

Anyway, by the end of the evening I was looking forward to the next week’s matches when I would strive yet again to fence better and cleaner.  But that’s not gonna happen for a while.  The reason?

My car has died.

Yes, my poor old Toyota Tercel (a.k.a., the Nerdmobile) has developed a terminal illness in the form of a cracked engine head and a fuel injector problem, and if the mechanic had kept looking no doubt he would have found more doozies.  The result is I am now car-less – no big deal for the time being, given that I take the bus to work and live in the city where pretty much everything is within walking distance.

Except for fencing.

Hence it appears that — damn it all! — I’ll likely drop out of fencing until sometime in January because I don’t see myself lining up a good inexpensive used car before then.

You know, my first two cars were used while three and four were new.  So yes, this is regression, but given the economy and my Layla plan which is using up all my discretionary funds (I have become very indiscreet), I gotta go cheap on my next car.

Action heroes don’t have this problem.  In thriller books and movies they drive outrageously expensive supercool sportscars.  They whiz through adventures in vehicles of roaring, gleaming, wind racing speed that make grown men moan with desire and teenage boys have wet dreams. Layla, being more down to earth, has a Jeep Wrangler that has traveled many an exotic mile across Europe and North Africa as she pursues rare antiquities hidden in treacherous places, and that’s way cool too.

Me?  I gotta get a used compact or subcompact.

I swear that sometime soon I’m going to make my life and its accessories so beautifully exotic I’ll be an object of envy.


Yes I know — this is a shallow, immature, unworthy goal for me.

Like I care.

What I Gotta Do

on July 9, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on What I Gotta Do

First, the facts of my life.

I work the usual 40 hours in an office.

I go to epee fencing two evenings a week (a cool sport that in my back-story of Layla she doesn’t do, hence I’m one up on her).  Then after fun with friends and the usual grind of errands and chores, I don’t have much free time.

I will need to explain to friends and family (at least I have no children to embarrass and right now I’m single) why I, a grown woman who appears to be of sound mental health, intends to skirt along the borders of La-La Land by acting like a fictional character and living out some of her adventures.

As for my free time, it will now be filled with the skills I need to learn.  Here are a few of them in no particular order:

  1. Pick locks (Layla is an expert)
  2. Get in and out of places I don’t belong without being caught
  3. Climb around structures like they’re jungle gyms
  4. Climb up buildings and rappel down them
  5. Skydive
  6. Paraglide
  7. Archery (did it as a kid, but I need to learn how to shoot a trident that’s attached to a rope)
  8. Parkour (the sport used in the opening sequence of “Casino Royale” when the bad guy is evading Bond by leaping, sliding and bounding over barriers as if they’re tools of escape)
  9. Scuba (did it once off the coast of Cambodia, but I wasn’t yet certified; now I have to get good at it)
  10. Aerial dancing (okay, that’s more like Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider” when she soars on a cool bungee contraption in her castle, but I still wanna do it)
  11. Lots of other cool stuff like surveillance and evasion techniques
  12. Brush up on French and get serious about learning at least basic Arabic (Layla doesn’t speak it, but with my own passion for archeology in the Middle East that’s what I’m going with)

First up: parkour

I didn’t plan on pursuing the toughest skill first.  The trouble is, one of the best places in the country to learn parkour (which is related to freerunning) is only minutes from where I live, and a ten-week course begins this Saturday.  That means I either take the classes now or wait a few months.

So parkour it is.

According to Wikipedia, parkour is a discipline focusing on moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible using only the abilities of the human body.  It is built on the premise that any physical or mental obstacle can be surpassed.

Also in Wikipedia:  After the attention that parkour received following the film Casino Royale, the British Royal Marines hired parkour athletes to train their members.  Colorado Parkour began a project to introduce the discipline into the U.S. military and it is slowly being introduced into the USMC.

So in essence, parkour does not use acrobatics like flips, while freerunning does.  Yet here in Denver the two terms sometimes seem to be  used interchangeably.

Since what Layla would need to do is parkour (both in my novel The Compass Master and in her back story), then that’s what I’ll be doing.  Hence no flips.

For a peek at the kind of are-you-insane stuff I’m supposed to learn, here’s a YouTube video filmed at the gym where I’ll be taking the classes.