Yesterday I sat in the park and watched little two boys have at it with each other a couple styrofoam swords. Grins from ear to ear as each of them attempted to disarm or disable the other. At what age is it that we begin to believe that beating the crap out of each other is a “fun” concept? Look at the Princess Bride, a classic movie where brothers and sisters could sit and watch, both engrossed in the the adventure of a lost love while fighting off bad guys along the way. I know for me, while a hopeless romantic girl who loves a fairy tale story, I also wanted to learn to fight with a sword because of that movie. Christmas time was always a fun time in my household, but not for the typical reasons you would think of, but rather the endless empty rolls of wrapping paper tubes my brother and I could turn into our fighting weapons.
Sword fighting…how many people really get a chance to do it though? As a sport, we call it Fencing. As kids, it will always be sword fighting. From child to adult, that urge had never left me, however I never had the exposure to such a sport or even had to learn to play a sport of coordination and agility; so when given the opportunity 9 months ago to give it a try, I couldn’t turn it down.
Just like a kid again, with no finesse the swords went flying with grins from ear to ear as two 30+ year old adults reverted to their childhood memories. I was hooked. I was horrible, but hooked. Clearly I didn’t know a thing about fencing, when first suiting up by putting the chest guard on as a what I thought was a “uterus protector” from getting stabbed. How was I supposed to know? Capturing this moment on camera…at least we got a lot of laughs over it.
Quickly I bought my own gear and started learning the art of epee. What first started as practice once a week, turned into 2, 3 then 4 times a week. All the years of training I have put into my sport of triathlon – none of it mattered. For the first time in my life, I was awful at a sport. Months and months of drills and footwork I spent. Even going to the extent, that while on my 6 week trip in India, I brought my practice weapon, a tennis ball and practiced every single day.
Never did I consider any sort of competition until getting wired up for my first time. OH NO – not another sport to compete in?! 8 months of practicing, still pretty awful and am I really considering on entering a Fencing Tournament? Yes, I am. Yes, I did.
It is good to be a rookie again. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty on how the system goes at a competition was a feeling I had long felt. My hands were trembling the first time I stepped onto the strip. My body was shaking when I walked off it after my defeat. Realistically I knew I was going to be beaten, fore everyone in the tournament was ranked. However, I truly believed I could score at least once on all of them. I scored at least 2 times on all of them. That day, there were 17 entrants and I got 17th – dead last. Even at last place, I could not remember when I had so much fun in competition. I got my ass kicked by 60 year old men, 15 year old kids and loved every minute of it.
Trying a new sport can be scary and intimidating…it certainly has been for me. But what a badass sport to take on! My nephews think I am a Super Hero because I “sword fight”, and never will I correct them on their belief. In fact, maybe I have encouraged it a bit when I bought them 20 styrofoam swords for them to practice their fighting skills. At any age, it is great to feel like a kid from time to time. Every time I suit up and put on my mask, immediately I step back 25 years and just want to play and laugh and have a great time like I did when I used to cardboard tube fight with my brother.
The Art of Epee. It is an art. This young sword fighter has much to learn, but is determined to have her first win. I love my new sport.