So I have what is known in the WordPress parlance as a “category”, called Fencing. It’s right up there, last in the list of “Topics” (my word). Last update, before today: September, 2011.
That was a while ago.
The category exists because fencing spent a long time as a big part of my life. I fenced at least three times a week, almost every week, for over fifteen consecutive years. I’m a trained coach and referee, though I haven’t been active at either of those things for years. Ten years ago, during the competitive season, it would not be uncommon for me to be involved in fencing seven days a week for several weeks straight. Evenings spent either training or training others. Weekends spent in gyms, competing or refereeing or coaching.
All this bled over into my non-fencing time. I would read about fencing, or watch video of fencing in my spare time. Many of my friends were fencers, and conversation would often, naturally, turn to our common pastime. And, of course, quiet moments would often be spent thinking about fencing.
Times change. Evenings and weekends are difficult to give up to the sport with a two-year-old daughter. Coaching would require too many of my evenings, and a proper competitive schedule too many of my weekends. The treatment of referees in British Fencing is lousy (in comparison to Canada), and drove me away from refereeing.
And then there’s work, which sends me away from my fencing club for days or weeks at a time.
Fencing drops from the mind under these circumstance, and the relative frequency of my posts about fencing reflect that — with the turning of the year, I have been considering dropping the category from the blog altogether. It may still happen.
But we have this one post left.
I still fence, of course. But less frequently.
In theory, my schedule is to practice at the club one night a week, and attend a competition once a month. In reality, I rarely practice more than once a month, and have not attended a competition since July.
At the start of the month, I attended the first practice after the Christmas break. It was exhuasting. And near the end of it, I felt a very sharp pain in my knee. This pain — now a dull throb — has kept me out of fencing for the past few weeks, while forcing me to visit a physiotherapist with the regularity I fail to manage normally.
Conversations with my physiotherapist unerringly circle around getting me back into fencing. Which embarrasses me, due to my recent history of failure to fence according to my planned schedule. The trouble, I think, is that I no longer have goals in terms of fencing.
Truth be told, I have never had a conscious goal with my fencing, but they have always been there. Winning my first medal. Winning my first tournament. Qualifying for the University championships. Qualifying for the National championships. Winning the University championships. Not all goals are achieved, but they don’t have to be.
There were always tournaments in the calendar that had meaning. There were rankings lists — provincial or national — that I cared about. For me. For the people I coached. Unspoken targets. Unclear targets. But I was trying to achieve something; each practice, each tournament, worked towards those goals.
After my first year or so in London, this ceased to be the case. I continued to fence, because it was fun. And I preferred to win. But my participation in the sport became aimless.
National ranking? It hardly matters – I’m not British, and it means so little. I cannot qualify for anything through the rankings, nor can I get sufficiently ranked to be too good for any tournaments. It simply does not matter.
Performance at a particular tournament? None of them have any history to me. There is no special meaning or connection. I’m not allowed to compete at a championship. There’s nothing to qualify for. It’s simply meaningless.
Rehab has convinced me that I need to get back to fencing a bit more seriously, albeit perhaps not with the same all-time-consuming manner as I did ten years ago.
And reflection has convinced me that I need a target, if I am to be successful. It does not have to be well-defined, but it must be there.
So here are my goals. Stated publicly, so I cannot shirk them:
The first gives me a not-too-far-away thing to train towards.
I’m not sure what I need to do to qualify — possibly nothing, truth be told — but I might need to have a sufficiently high Canadian ranking. Which would require that I fence an event or two in Canada. And do sufficiently well at them that one or two results will suffice.
Or I might need to show sufficiently good comparative results at British tournaments. Or Satellite FIE tournaments.
At the very least, I’d like my fencing not to be embarrassing.
Realistically, there will be some strong British fencers in attendance, and then-38-year-old-me has little chance of winning a medal. But it will be the first time I’ve had a chance to fence in a Championship since leaving Canada, and I look forward to it.
There might be qualifying criteria. I may fall short of these. But not all goals are reached.
The real target is the one four years later.
I’ll be over 40, and will qualify for the Veteran category. As one of the younger people in that category, I might stand a real chance of winning something. I won’t be someone pushing 40, trying to compete with people working towards Olympic qualification. There are no real excuses.
If I train. If I’m in good shape. If I’m able to read situations, and fence intelligently. If I have gotten back into the habit of training and fencing to win, instead of just for fun. If, if, if and if … I could win something. All factors within my control.
And now it’s been said publicly.
We will see if this fencing “category” continues to gather dust.