New Year’s fencing resolutions

Slightly less boring than regular resos, and with less #gratitude #blessed!

Not bovvered

1: Don’t fence to win
Argh I can’t believe it’s taken me 3 years to realise this, counter-productive though it sounds. Not in a comp, I mean free bouting at my club. I’ve got a host of issues to consider first: some fancy footwork and distance to work on, to hold the grip lightly and avoid blade contact, plus try out new moves from my coaches – all before I even think about any actual fencing.

2. Fence, don’t fight
Sometimes, fencing with some of the bigger guys down at my club feels like standing in front of a train while wielding a feather. Not the VLine to Geelong, more the Superexpress to Sapporo. In the face of this last year I’ve been bracing myself physically for a fight, engaging the blade too often, and winding up with scores like 15-2 and now an arm injury I have to nurse along.

So while I always need to attack more this year, it’s got to be with less aggro. After I injured my arm a few months ago using a dodgy parry, I had a thoroughly enlightening conversation with my coach about the difference between fencing and fighting. People who fight each other use their only strength to win (these he calls ‘people from other clubs’). People who use speed, skill, and strategy to outsmart their opponent – that is in fact the sport known as fencing. I’ll always lose in a physical fight against someone bigger and stronger, so rather than clanging antlers I need to fight less in 2016.

Let’s face it, Basil Rathbone will always beat Russell Crowe in a movie fight. One is intelligent, creative, suave, quick-thinking, and light on his feet. The other is in a band called ‘30 Odd Foot of Grunts’.

When you Google "Italian Fencing Federation" this is one of the first images that comes up.

When you Google “Italian Fencing Federation” this is one of the first images that comes up.

3. More footwork means more fitness
Last year we were being encouraged to dance about on our feet and show a moving target. Lots of jumping, stepping back and forward out of distance; presenting to the opponent not my normal sturdy, plodding target but a dynamic one. Boy is this hard work. After about 45 seconds I’m done and ready for someone to throw a cape over my shoulders and escort me offstage. But, like James Brown, I need to find a second wind somewhere. I’ve already started fencing up to 4 times a week, including something  called ‘conditioning’on Tuesdays which is not as luxuriant as it sounds.

4. Get ahold of my anxiety
After several really dragging years of parents dying (both myself and more recently my partner), plus some ongoing health issues and dramas, anxiety is now a large part of my life. Oh make yourself at home! This manifested itself in a few wacky ways throughout last year, with the biggest wakeup call coming about at the Nationals.

I’d signed up on a whim thinking ‘Open Division’ meant some sort of elaborate novice event, until I walked into a room of fit, lissome 20-year-olds, all snorting, whickering and pawing the air like Arabian racehorses while their coaches bawled from the sidelines. Some people had fenced in the Olympics. One Russian coach was decked out in a full parachute tracksuit, gold earring, and side swept shaved hairdo.

Cue major chest pains and tiny gasps of air while this Will Ferrell-esque idiot in the corner struggled with a non-regulation mask, no knowing what end of the piste to stand, losing the right number of weapons and bodywires and flapping back to pick up my mask, unable to hear her name called out, and struggling with basically every single technical and non-technical thing that could go wrong. And the results showed!

So much awaits in Italy

I’ll have what she’s having thx

Anxious people need to do activities that make them less anxious; anxious people do not need to throw themselves into the fiery hells of a 1980s Olympic training montage.

HOWEVER. I would like one day to turn up to a comp and be reasonably pleased with my effort. I would also like for triggering events like this one (and all the seemingly mundane ones) to be not so gaaaaah. I’ve been studying my bouncier, more resilient friends and their habits, have cut out my midweek boozing and daily coffee habits, and am doing my best to jam more fencing into the week (see above).

5. Improve my productivity
Two days of fencing a week, with lots of gaps from the flu and assorted crises and deadlines, was never going to reap any big rewards for me last year. In light of Resolution 4, fitting in regular, structured exercise around my business is now a Big Deal.

While a lot of small business owners love talking about their long hours and devotion to their job, I don’t buy it any more. Busy-ness is a choice, not something foisted upon you. I also read some eye-opening pieces from fellow small business owners like Kate Toon who pull 5 or 6-hour days. And have a life. And a successful business. Ho, could that be me? Now I’m improving processes at work, cutting down on meeting travel time, and implementing automation (and other boring words over 10-letters), which means I can now fence four times a week. Sort of. Mostly. I’m working on it.

6. Learn rudimentary Italian
Learning a bit of mi chiamo Rebecca, ti piace il formaggio? won’t go astray in 2016. I’m off to Turin this year for several months and boy do I plan to eat my body weight in cheese and fence my bottom off! I might even do some work, with my new-found business habits. We found a place to stay, there’s a big fencing club by the River Po, and all fencers relax like Aldo Montano, pictured.

Navel is a bit hot

7. Don’t compare myself to others
Well I can just go ahead and put this on the list every year. My club has the full spectrum of age, fitness, and weapons, yet sometimes it’s very hard not to gaze about and say ‘why can’t I do that?’ For someone who has spent the last 20 years joyously boozing, who doesn’t have a sporty body, does not have the brain of a Grandmaster and who’s not overly disciplined, I think I do OK at this very demanding sport. This needs to be written somewhere, eternally.

And so, to the New Year.

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