Through the tears in my eyes   8 comments

You are all wrong when you say there is no crying in fencing!

It’s tough. There is crying and hard work and disappointment and heartache and frustration and confusion and anger and a myriad of other emotions that come with learning something challenging, competitive, and without a single “right” path.

(I say this with a love of the game and the challenges it bring, but let’s look at reality: it is a lot of hard work.)

I cry a lot….

Frustration, adrenaline, confusion, anger, extreme happiness: all of these things make me tear up… but I don’t have to be what is traditionally thought of as “upset”. If I am frustrated with my fight or hit too much adrenaline my eyes turn into friggin’ geysers. Then I become frustrated that I am crying, which adds exponentially to the frustration. Suddenly, I am a pitiful, useless mess. UGH!

But crying comes in many forms. Mine is super obvious because there are tears flying out of my eyeballs. Sometimes it comes in the form of anger, some people shut down, some build walls, some cling to old habits, some make excuses, some seek out injustices, some get “smart” or defensive. We all express emotions differently and “cry” in some form when we are learning difficult and frustrating things.

Fencing is at times frustratingly unpredictable (because anyone can win any bout), difficult to know you are on the right path, confusing and gosh darn it sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I have upped the time I regularly practice and study to get beat by someone that I STARTED TEACHING! The even more frustrating is that in some cases, I knew I had better technique! …or thought I did, until I lost like a chump and questioned whether or not that was true. It’s a situation where I should not lose, but did anyway.

This is a game that it is easy to slip into questioning yourself while playing.

And yes, it shouldn’t matter, but guess what… it does. Sometimes when you lose it sucks. It matters because it is confusing. It matters because it makes you question why you woke up extra early to practice before work 3 times a week for months. It makes you question how you can work so hard and not get an easy win. It makes you question if a whole lot of time got wasted. It is confusing which causes frustration. It’s HARD. Sometimes it is hard to keep in perspective it is how you fight not who you beat.

A friend of mine once said: “It’s easy; you just move your body in 8 different non-natural positions at the same time.”

We act like it is easy, but that is because we forget how hard it is to learn. These are not natural motions. I think fencing may be like learning a new language. We have to teach our bodies how to hear the rolled rs then, say the rolled r, then to say them at the right time, then say them naturally and correctly at the right time. People with movement backgrounds such as dancing, martial arts, or other sports may already know how to understand or be able to create unusual motions the same way that a French speaker may pick up Italian faster than a Chinese speaker.

It is not easy, and often upsetting because it seems like it is to some, or should be. These are hard actions for your body and mind to coordinate, and then to try to coordinate in a the split second of an opponent’s opening….

To top things off… there is not one “right” paths to fencing or thinking about fencing. There are as many “right” ways to fence as there are different ways to express emotions. There are a million opinions on where to put your foot, sword, hand, dagger, head, eyes, brain, butt… you name it, and there are 5 clashing opinions on it. (Except the pointy end goes in the other person; that one is kinda universal, but where that point starts is another plethora of opinions).

All of these things can add up to be ridiculously frustrating.

Personally, I have realized that I have to just let the damn tears happen and accept that it is hard and frustrating. I accept that that is how I process frustration (even though it sucks). If I ignore the fact there is water on my face I can be frustrated without being frustrated that I am frustrated. If I can accept that I am frustrated because fencing is hard (instead of being frustrated that I am not doing it right), I can prevent it from spiralling out of control.

This shit we do is hard. It’s ok to be frustrated. Do not add to frustration by feeling it should not be or feeling you “should be better”. Fencing is hard: let it be hard.

Posted July 11, 2014 by Letia in Musings

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