Provincial holiday here in British Columbia today. A nice day off and what should have been a good sleep in, ruined a bit by some odd dreams. Not bad dreams, but the kind you wake up from and immediately become aware of things that have been lost from your life. Not a lot you can do about it, and not new information, but sometimes the reminder can really suck. All the more reason to enjoy what I have in life right now. I can regret money lost, but rather than obsess over losing a penny ever again, I’m better served by learning to enjoy things in life that cost nothing.

I’m learning new things about my writing. Since it’s a long weekend, Courtney is home. She’s actually reading on the couch just a few feet away from me. We occasionally chatter as I write. Doesn’t seem like much, but for the first few years of writing, I could only squeeze out a few words if I locked myself alone for hours. I made my big breakthroughs in volume of words while working as a night watchman in the middle of nowhere…and even at that, it took me hours of thinking and prepping to start writing my first few blog posts. Since I’ve stopped the graveyard shifts and started part-time daywork, I cracked down the pre-writing time to only half an hour or so. But I still couldn’t write at night, because….wife. Wonderful company. Hard to ignore. But this morning marks the second time I’ve managed to sit down and just write with her company…and no real prep time, either. I think I’m becoming a professional, in attitude if not pay.

And as my writing process improves, so does my fencing. The constant effort of classes has been paying off. I marveled in last class about how well the students new to fencing were progressing. Progress shows from class to class, and the leaps in ability are occurring faster than I ever could have expected. As a teacher, I feel tremendous pride in what the students are doing. As a fencer, though…I didn’t quite expect to be making progress myself. It’s difficult being the teacher. Of necessity, you get less exercise and practice than the students do. I make a point of doing everything the students do, and more, if I can…but when there are uneven numbers, my practice partner becomes a convenient post or section of wall. And my attention is always divided between working on my own skills and fitness, and monitoring the class. But even so, I prefer to lead by example as best I can. What a worn out old man can do, should be easy for students.

I think my fencing game is now the best it’s ever been. The previous year of giving private lessons, hours of slow work, and video review of students and myself gave me a better technical base than I’d ever had a chance to develop before. Now I get to top that off with the best possible physical fitness, and a good steady diet of sparring. I may get less than my students, but the quality of fights is consistently higher than I’ve ever faced in sparring before.

I fought single sword in last Thursday night’s class, something I put years of work into but have always hated. I tend to consider my single sword game as a bit of a throwaway. I’m not good at it, due to my scoliosis-derived posture problems, so I mostly look at it as learning time. Whenever I fight single sword, I tend to forget winning and focus instead on improving small parts of my game. Footwork, in-line defense, wristwork, grappling, etc. But last Thursday I felt more capable. I altered my grip slightly to use the thumb ring more dynamically, and worked my offense using more of the sabre-derived technique. Without even thinking about it, I moved into the timing and methods of Marozzo. Strong cuts to establish lines, tempo pauses, footwork patterns all flew from my mind and out into my fingers. The fight felt strong, dynamic, and risky. I was pleased when I pulled off a beautiful thrust-and-cut double kill attack (overhand thrust to left eye, roll to dritto slice at neck while stepping past to safety) at the end. When I reviewed the video at home, I was amazed at the speed and elaborate footwork I was pulling off. Apparently the drills work, and my students have been teaching me well in all our bouts.