Friday, November 4, 2016

Out of the Box 3: Maria Tries Olympic Fencing (Part 1)

Not mine; forgot where I got it.
In the late 16th century, fencing was born. Fencing is known as the action or art of using the sword scientifically. Initially developed for ancient combat that later blossomed into a scientific sport. Regardless of its history, my reasons for choosing fencing as the first sport or activity to try is rather simple: To re-enact Lindsay Lohan’s character, Annie in the movie the Parent Trap. I really just want to re-enact that famous scene and utter “I have class, and you don’t!” All joking aside, fencing’s semi-anonymous vibe with the mask and badass sword fight is appealing to me. It’s a baby step towards going out of my comfort zone without the extreme fear of being judged. Shout-out to the convenient mask—no one can really tell who is performing behind that right?

It’s roughly 7:30pm when I walked to the Minnesota Swords Club. I was sweating and swearing profusely: What the f*ck did I get myself into?! I genuinely thought about walking out and simply putting my hands up and saying “fuck it.” But, I’m no quitter. I was super uncomfortable but that’s a good thing! It means I’m about to do something outside my comfort zone. 

The instructor, Geoff, handed me my all white gear, mask, and a sword. Looks
The equipment
super cool! But shit, I don’t know how to do this! After 10 minutes of panic session, I checked my breathing to regain sanity. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat x 20.  I tried to reassure myself that it will be fine. After all, I’m not supposed to be good at this, since I’ve NEVER done it before and it’s certainly ok to fail for your first few tries. For my first day, I was his only student. So that one-on-one ratio was really inviting. He taught me a LOT for one session: En garde (on-guard; fencing position), salute (acknowledging the opponent at the start and end of the bout/game using the sabre), advance (a movement foreward; balestra), retreat (step back), lunge (attack made by extending the leg), and attack (offensive action done by extending the arm using the sabre (sword)! 

I know I’m only a few sessions in from Fencing but I already admire the values that this sport is all about. One of the things I’m working on personally is my self-esteem and general confidence. I've always doubted myself with everything I do outside academia. I question everything (to a fault), anxiety overload, and just a cloud of doubt. That’s not a good feeling. I envision this project to somewhat help with the confidence issue and frankly, to get myself used to trying things outside of my comfort zone. Fencing is an excellent practice for self-confidence. Half of my session, I spent my time worrying about how my coach will judge me. Am I not good enough? Can I
Fencing in Action
attack now? Me doubting myself on a “bout” (a game of fencing) cost me points and several hits on my body. Coach Geoff stopped me and said to just breathe and not worry. So I stepped out, recollected, and voila, my body was ready. I advanced (move forward) and retreat (move backward) and attack without questioning myself. I didn’t even realize it until it was a close match and coach Geoff said, “See how well you did when you stopped overthinking and start trusting yourself?” This made me smile but it also relates back to my everyday life. 

Do I look official yet?
In fencing, there’s no room for doubt. You need to be confident, deliberate, and accurate. If you think you can attack successfully, attack. It also teaches people that are always in a rush (aka me) to slow down, assess everything around you and practice soft focus. If you move too fast without thinking, you’ll miss. If you move too slow, you’ll get hit. Timing, distance, deliberate and accurate attack is the name of the game. I also appreciate how when you’re doing a friendly match, the opponent will recognize if the other scores the point and vice versa. It teaches you sportsmanship.

Though I am SUPER new at fencing, I’m really enjoying myself a LOT. I always look forward to fence every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Crazy me even wants to take private lessons. I’m hoping that this is a sport I can REALLY get into and excel at. It’s a unique sport that encourages confident thinking, deliberate and accurate action, and strategizing. I’m not good yet, but the fact that I’m there every session is a step to the right direction. Can’t wait to write my part 2 after the end of the month. Let’s see if I sign up for the additional 3 months! 




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