I took a few weeks off of fencing. My brain had become a muddled mess, I was getting frustrated, and (quite frankly) a bit burnt out. So I had to step away from things Rapier as much as possible for a bit; it ended up being about 3 weeks total. During that time, I tried to not even think about fencing, though it did come to to mind quite often even still.
One thing that helped me in my thought process significantly was my wife Rowan (or Felicia, depends on how you know her) embroidered the Blue Scarf my Don (Frasier) had given me. On one end of the scarf she embroidered my arms - a Golden Stag. On the other side she embroidered Frasier's arms - a left-handed gauntlet holding a rose. It was gorgeous. It meant so much to me. It reminded me of what I was doing and who I am in the Society. And she couldn't have finished it at a more opportune time.
|Both sides. Look how gorgeous this is!|
At BBM/Bergental Yule, I chose to help Liadan marshal the Rapier list instead of fencing for the day. Still being in that state of mind, I didn't want to ruin my progress. Plus the list can always use more marshals to help things run smoother. There was also a bit more to it than that. I suddenly found that I love helping. By marshaling, I was able to do something I love (Help), so that others could do what they love (Fence), and I could also have fun and learn something (by watching people fence). I mean, there's so much "Win" there, how could it not be great?
Guess what? It was great. I learn a lot through this weird visual absorption. I like to watch people and figure out what they're doing, then extrapolate it for me. It's worked a bit in the past, and now with so many people focusing on so many period styles I can take my pick on what I want to learn in this way.
Going into Yule I knew that I wanted return to practice Monday. I had this renewed invigoration and love for the game. My head had cleared and I knew what I wanted. So I got to practice with every intention of spending as much time learning from people as I could. I got my gear on and was immediately asked to help a new fencer do some drills. I was a bit hesitant at first because I had things I wanted to work on, but then I realized I was able to help my self and him at the same time. He needed to work on some parry/ripostes. This gave me a chance to work on proper lunges. Cha-ching!
I was able to do a few passes with Eon which went great. I was moving at about 3/4 speed to focus on proper movement, and he seemed to match my speed rather than just blow through me. I made a few mistakes and sloppy moves, but I also made quite a few proper lunges and correct moves. After our bouts I explained to him what I had been working on and thanked him.
Then Natalia wanted to fight me to see what improvements I'd made since last she saw me fence. The last time she saw me was the last practice I had been to (which she hadn't known), but I FELT improved. So we were fighting a bit, and she kept getting deep inside my guard for a kill. She was pushing my back to the wall a lot, and I was letting her do it. So instead of continuing fighting, she did a drill with me to keep me forcing her at range. And not only keeping her there, but making me do a lunge, then double or triple tap the lunge. Anyone who has ever so much as watched me fence probably has picked up on the fact that my attacks were not proper at all, and they were single attacks: extend; lean; reset. WAY wrong! So this drill was designed to make me do a full lunge, and follow through to make several more attacks after the initial.
I was then able to talk with Donovan a bit about things. It was only really quick while I caught him in between session, but I got a lot out of it. He explained and demonstrated the benefit for a lot of things I didn't understand in these period styles. Body structure and things like that. Next week we're going to work together for a longer session, so that should help significantly. He also gave me pointers on how not to get burnt-out the way I did.
So this week I'm spending a minimum of five minutes every day drilling something. I need to get in that habit of actually drilling, especially with only one practice I'm attending each week. And I'm also trying to figure out how else I can help out in the Society. I know there is never a shortage of ways to help. I just need to start asking people "How can I help?" And it doesn't need to be in the Rapier community, either. It's time I branch out a bit more and find ways to do what I love so that we can all do what we love.
So like I said, words. TL;DR? I took a break from fencing, discovered I liked helping and not just fencing, fencing again and feeling damn good about things.
Thanks, True Believers!