Musings: Fencing Blind (drunk)   3 comments

Or, “the silver lining in the porcelain throne”

(Yes, Guenievre, you should probably look away now)

A bit too much fun with EtOH has left Caelia feeling somewhat under the weather (and the Jameson’s, and the Murphy’s).  She says she’ll try to show up to practice tonight (which is good, considering there are only three more before she moves to Ansteorra.  Anybody who reads this out there?), but says she probably won’t bring her “A Game”.  I acknowledged that was likely, and then, being myself robbed of my muse today, asked her what I should write about.  Her response: “Drills for fencers with hangovers”.  Bit of a one-track mind today, apparently.  But… you know what, it can be done!  I wouldn’t hold your breath for melee instruction in this one, though.  I’ll leave fighting melee like you’re hungover to other kingdoms.

Referring back to a recent Mythbusters (with the most awesome quote from Kari: “Wake up, it’s time for science!”), the common presentations of a hangover are a headache, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, memory impairment, nausea, and depression.


Let’s talk about that headache: Drink some water, drop some Electrol (not Electrosol, very different things), drink some more water, drop some aspirin, drink some more water.  Drop another Electrol.  Seriously, this shit is magic.  Taken as a preventative, it guarantees no hangover.  Like, Wistric belly-dancing naked at the Baron’s Beer Bash, after six hours of sleep, is Wistric ready to run a marathon.  Taken after the drinking, it does just about the same.  Just learn from my mistake: after a morning of the rapier great wall battle, fueled only be Electrol, don’t get ice cream before the 5-Man Tourney (hey, look, melee learning!).

Sensitivity to Light

Practice blind.

Really, blind fencing exists.  Not as prevalent as wheelchair fencing, but I’ve actually met a blind fencer.   Haven’t yet met a wheelchair-bound fencer.  Now, from how she described it, they start engaged with swords in opposition, and go from there (sounds kinda like my usual en garde range).  And since you’d rather not see the world anyway, take the opportunity to practice blindfolded.  I don’t think Alejandro ever made me do this one, but I may have just forgotten about it.  I have seen Mr. Triplette’s daughter do it without losing a step off her ridiculously fast pace.

Alejandro once described to me what happens next as “using the Force”.  With your swords in opposition, the “sens de fer” (feel of the blade) becomes your primary guide to what your opponent is doing.  The basis is the “pressure-no pressure” drill: If your opponent is strong in the bind, disengage and go; If your opponent is weak in the bind, push through.  Building from that, start quantifying the amount of pressure exerted and the amount of give in the system.  This will indicate if your blade is on their true edge, false edge, or flat, and whether it’s on their forte or foible.  From that information (as well as your own spatial awareness of your position), you can establish what line their blade is in, and where their target area is.  You could even work on finding your opponent’s blade, and throwing in footwork as the feedback from the sword indicates an advance or retreat (or even working on footwork without an opponent, periodically checking how far offline you’ve gone!).  Then it’s just a matter of disengaging, binding, or beating, and killing.

With your body able to read your opponent through his sword and ready to respond without substantial input, all the visual processing in your brain (and it takes up a lot of brain cells) can be spent on advanced planning and targeting.

Okay, at this point I may or may not be talking out of my ass, so I’m going to blindfold myself tonight and find out.  I might correct myself later, but that would be admitting a mistake.

Sensitivity to Noise

Wear an under-hood, then you can’t hear anything anyway.

Memory Impairment

Repeat everything ad nauseum.  Though, this should be done sober, too.


Make sure you take your mask off before you pop.  Then, rinse your mouth, put it back on, and go back to drilling (DRILLING!  Not fighting!  Fighting hungover is a great way to lead to injury).  Yes, go back to drilling!  Hungover, you feel weak, out-of-sorts, and exhausted.  Is this good fighting condition?  Nope.  But this is our condition at the end of every tourney, at the end of every melee.  Drill when you’re in no shape to fight so that when the finals of the tourney come, you’ve been there, done that, you’ve got the control you need and the clearness of mind.

Also, make sure you’re fighting upright and poised.  Leaning forward leads to head parries, and when nauseous, head parries lead to using your mask as a strainer.  Using your mask as a strainer leads to fear, fear is the mind killer, etc.  etc.  etc.


You’re fencing!  Pet your blade and remind yourself that you are in the midst of one of the top 5 best uses of your time!  Also, exercise and getting out in the light are clinically identified treatments for depression.

And having nearly convinced myself to hold Kappellenfechter drinking parties on Friday night, followed by practices early Saturday morning, I think I’ll close there.  That way lies madness.  And stinkier masks.

Posted October 29, 2009 by wistric in Musings

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