En Garde

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Fencing Story

Submitted: May 03, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 03, 2015



One of my old club mates was the poster child of type A people. He was constantly thinking, this was evident in the way he walked, talked and fenced on strip. When he lost or even took a touch, it looked as if he grew a year older, our entire club could feel it. 

One particular day, he was fencing rather poorly at a local tournament. I had finished my pools and he was just starting his second bout, the result of multiple delays from failed equipment to missing fencers and 2 medical timeouts.  As mentioned before, he was a type A person, he doesn’t like to wait and wants to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, needless to say, these delays already upset and threw him off a little bit mentally.

So in the beginning of the second bout, my old club mate attempts a beautiful marching attack followed by a feint deceive around the 6 and then around the 4 (this is foil). His opponent, upon seeing my club mate’s foot lift on the second advance, counters, spins and hops off the strip, scoring a one light touch for himself. My club mate, visibly frustrated and tense, walks back to his end of the strip and begins thinking of a solution.

On the next touch, my club mate attempts a fake counter attack parry riposte; it fails as he was too close to his opponent and gets hits on a direct lunge. This goes on for 3 more touches and the final score is 0-5, my club mate’s opponent wins. Obviously, my club mate was not thrilled, he scans the room looking for a face to give advice, and his eyes fall on me.  I look at him, my mind is completely blank, and we stare for maybe 30 seconds. He speaks and asks me what he should have done, a circular parry on the third touch or a slower attack followed by  a remise on the last touch, I look at him and say quite possibly the most useless thing possible- “just fence.” and for some reason I’m smiling. There is no reason at all why I should be smiling.

But his face relaxes and he smiles crazily, like he just found out the secret to eternal life. He fences the next bout and wins, and wins the next and the next and the next, I recall the score to be 15-6 in the finals, where my old club mate wins.

After the tournament, on the way home I realize something, what I said was so generic, and probably more impactful, so unexpected, that it shocked my club mate out of this ultra-tense mindset that he stuck in.

My club mate wasn’t fencing in the medieval times where a slip up would cost him his life, he wasn’t fencing to cure cancer or to solve hunger. He was just a guy, at a local tournament fencing for the sole reason of fencing. He was fencing to fence. And I guess what I said knocked him out of his mini slump.


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