Fencing Tourney Report: Point Dufour Epee Tournament

Net result: Pool record 0-5, seeded 17/18, first DE 15-10, second
DE 7-15.

 Yesterday was the 2009 Dufour Epee Tournament at the Point. The
tournament’s named after Marie France Dufour, a Canadian olympian who
was one of the original coaches at the club, and is held every year in
her honor. She didn’t make it down from Canada this year, but
apparently she’s done so in past years.

 At three months and counting since I had gotten back into fencing, I
was feeling pretty decent about this tournament. I had done better
than I had expected in the last epee tourney a month or so ago, ending
up seeded towards the middle and only losing 15-14 in my second DE to
someone I expected to grind me to dust. This time I expected to do a
bit better, at least in pools.

 This, of course, did not happen.

 I was in a much tougher pool than the previous tourney: three D/E
fencers, including my coach, and the other two U’s being both
left-handed, which I still don’t know how to deal with very well. I
lost all my bouts, but mostly by respectably small margins. I only
lost one bout 0-5, which was frankly disastrous in every way: I had
unexpected equipment problems with both my primary and backup blades,
resulting in a red card and a point down before the bout had even
started, and having to fence with an unfamiliar blade my coach had
provided. I was angry and frustrated before the bout even started,
and my opponent (the pool’s D) took me down pretty easily.

 So I was seeded 17/18, but came into a bit of luck in that my first
elimination bout was against seed 16. After a shaky start–the guy
had a really good guard against direct arm attacks, which is what I
like to use–I managed to take control and won 15-10, where most of
his touches took advantage of the fact that I’m still dropping and
exposing my upper arm too much.

 I lost my second elimination bout, 7-15, to DP, another fencer from my
club. This felt rather less bad, DP being an extremely strong epeeist
and seed 1 in this tournament; in fact, this may have beem my best
result against him to date. I got in a couple of nice hand and wrist
touches, and finished feeling like I hadn’t been completely shut out,
which was my main goal for that bout. I may ask DP to work with me on
a few things later, as some of his touches were not things I expected.

 I finished the tournament frustrated, though, until my coach talked me
down. He told me I had improved since the last tourney–hard to
believe!–and had simply been up against a tougher field. I’m still
not sure how much I believe that in my back-brain, but it at least had
the effect of getting me to look at my fencing rather than my
results, and note exactly what I had to work on and what I did right.

 D and M also arrived later to take over the club for the first
practice of the Parkland Fencing Club, a club they’re starting at
their community college. I stuck around and helped out teaching the
complete newbies, as D and M are both yet to finish their beginners’
class but still hugely enthusiastic about fencing and making the PFC a
reality. This honestly helped me cheer up and relax for the rest of
the evening: working on fencing basics is always helpful, and D and M
are simply fun people to be around which also honestly helped.

 Next two tournaments are the Friday Night Foil Fight on April 17
(which should be fun even though I suck at foil) and a tourney in
Indianapolis on May 2 where I plan to fence epee, and maybe foil if I
feel like being ridiculous. I can spend the next few weeks working on
problems I noticed from this tourney, mainly involving distance
control and killing bad habits.

Questions, comments, interesting anecdotes? Tweet to me at @ajdecon, or send me an email at ajdecon@ajdecon.org.