Thirteen Things about 13 reasons why I love fencing…
To get myself back into the Thursday Thirteen mood, I decided to discuss my newest passion…sword fighting.1. I have always loved the sharp ‘n pointies. I asked my mother if she could ever remember when I didn’t want to have a sword in my hand…I think the last time was when I was a toddler. (And that was about the same time I had a large, stuffed shark whose head I would sleep in. See? Photographic evidence. So I always liked to live dangerously.) I remember running around the house with a sword my father made me, based a bit off of She-Ra’s. It was painted silver, and had flat marbles glued at the base of the blade. It is also iron…I have always kept it under my bed. My father always wanted to forge me a “real” sword, but we never got the chance.
2. It’s dashing and romantic. I love sword fighting scenes in movies, and I’ve always been a fan of books by Dumas and Sabatini. There’s something about a man with a sword…well, if he knows how to use it…that seems so ideal. It hearkens back to older times, of strength and honor. Yes, I know I’m looking through my pastel glasses when I think that way, but while I know the realism of the times, I like to enjoy the beauty, too.
3. It’s great exercise. My knees still bother me a little…good old arthritis, I do not doubt…but less. I was always a strong woman, and I can feel my thighs and arms getting stronger…in fencing, you stand with your knees slightly bent, as if sitting on a chair that’s just a little too high for your backside. And the lunges…after awhile, you really start to feel them.
4. You’re always learning. My interest is in classical fencing, which means that you’re learning a lot from old books and manuscripts about how to fence in the different styles. Once you master a certain level, you’re always moving on, gaining more knowledge, different parries.
5. Interesting people. The fencers I’ve met so far have been just lovely. Good, intelligent people with interesting stories to tell.
6. If you fence with the SCA, you get to wear cool clothes. If I ever get finished with my regency gown, I’m making a doublet and trunk hose, all black, and a white lawn shirt. I can’t wait….though perhaps the pirate coat needs to be done first…hmmm.
7. An excuse to get swords. I own a few, already, though only some of the foils are suitable for actually fighting with. I’m looking forward to getting myself an epee with a cup hilt. I already have a swept-hilt rapier, but I’m not sure if the blade is safe. But boy is it PRETTY.
8. It’s actually fairly safe. You wear a full mask, heavy jacket, gloves, all that. The people I’ve worked with so far are really conscious of no one getting hurt. Accidents will happen…I just hope they don’t leave an ugly mark. (If I’m allowed to curse viciously, I’m pretty good with pain. I’m no wimp. I think. I hope. Ask me later, I’ll be hiding behind yonder couch.)
9. It’s good for the brain in another way, too – it makes you think critically, just like chess does. You’re trying to out-think the person in front of you.
10. It’s sort of a team sport…but you are still an individual, fighting the other person, trying to keep from getting hit. So, you have comrades, people you can talk with and practice with, but you are also independent.
11. Fencing is filled with cool stories. It’s such a rich history…filled with female fencers who their lovers out of convents, men who learn one shot to keep themselves from getting killed by a jealous king’s champion, revenge, justice, and the need for a good street brawl.
12. It gets my backside out of the house on a weekly basis. I’m not lazy, but if you have family things to take care of, a full time job, a secondary job of trying to become a writer who is read, sometimes it seems like you don’t have the time to do anything else. Or you just feel tired. I usually feel better after I fence.
13. And best of all…since I’m one of the advisors of the campus fencing club, I’m getting to hang out with a group of really fantastic students, people I’d not normally get to know. And I’m getting to help them find a way to do things that make them happy…we’re all working together to get funding for a conference this summer.
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