Saturday 22nd July 2017
So bits of me ache and my knuckle is purple but day 1 of the Astolat tournament has taken place and I’m now back home trying to get sleep for an extremely early start tomorrow.
I felt good this morning. I felt focused as I had my breakfast and loaded up the car. The only question was whether I could maintain my energy until the afternoon and the rapier & dagger tournament.
And so I spent the morning playing this weird game where I tried to stay focused and motivated, and not get my head caught up in thinking about anything else.
I spent most of the day hanging out with Josh and Matt. I enjoyed their company at tournaments. They know how to take the piss in a way that relaxes me rather than winds me up. It’s all good natured banter and it really helps with my nerves.
I saw my pool and sighed. Now…it’s a running joke in tournaments that whatever pool you’re in is the “pool of death” – the pool of most capable and technical fencers. But I actually felt I had a difficult pool with a number of really technical fencers. The danger is that you focus on them and then as a result, end up losing to the less technical ones.
I’m not sure what exactly I realistically wanted out of my fights. Certainly not to finish last, possibly to win.
I had two big fights as I saw it. The first was Jay. I’ve fought him a lot recently, and he’s seen my massive improvement. He can’t get past my defence and we’ve had some fantastic fights of late. I felt I was going to enjoy this fight.
The other person who I was dreading was a guy from Sussex. He’s big and tall and at Untournament, he basically slid to his knees and thrust me in a way I couldn’t get in an afterblow.
I won my first fight. Not convincingly, but a win is a win and he was fighting destreza rapier which I find hard to fight against. Still, he’s a very good fighter and I won.
My next fight was against someone who has never fenced rapier & dagger. He did these rising thrusts which are a massive weakness is my defense and kept getting me with massive 3 pointers. But I fought back and whilst I ultimately lost, it was only by one point.
I lost some focus whilst fighting Jay. He made a ingenious tactical choice to go into a cutting battle with me. He knew his thrusts would never get through and so he started chopping away at me. It worked well. Part of me loves that he had to do an entirely different strategy to beat me but I did find myself losing focus in the fight, and the real challenge wasn’t trying to limit the points against me so much as getting my head back in the game.
The guy from Sussex was next. He was tough, and I was lucky that my challenge to the judge was accepted and I got 3 points. I ended up winning by 1. This was my real victory. After I lost my energy at Untournament and he annihilated me, to win against him felt like a huge, huge victory.
My last fight was against Chris from my club. He went for cheeky hand cuts but luckily the judge saw a lot of them landed flat and so I won that one (possibly by 1 point again).
The end result was that I won 3 and lost 2. I was happy with that. I felt exhausted. I need to remember more water tomorrow. Luckily Mark saw I was out and ran and got me some. I was so grateful for that as I was dripping sweat.
I got changed and took stuff back to the car, only to bump into Masha on the way back to the bar. She told me to check Facebook, which I had done, and even without my glasses was able to read. Except I didn’t really understand it as it said, me vs Jay which had already happened.
She pointed out that I was through.
I made the last fucking 8
I bounced like a tigger. Last fucking 8!
All that hard work…. It paid off! It so paid off! I might have scraped through (although I was not the last seed) but I’ve still made it to the final 8.
You have no idea how proud of myself I am for this. Jay, Pim, Matt and Josh are also through which shows just how well the school is progressing. But I’m in there… I’m a contender. I’ve improved.
I still have sword & buckler to fight in after the quarter-finals, and I have a sneaky sucpicion that my months of training students is going to help me here. We’ll see. They haven’t announced the pools yet!
Fuck it, if I go out first thing tomorrow and then screw up sword & buckler, I’ll take quarter-finalist as a win for the weekend.
And that’s likely to happen. They made some adjustments to the points which means that instead of fighting Jay (which would be a challenge given he beat me in the pools), I now fight Pim… who just so happens to be the #1 ranked rapier & dagger fighter in the world.
Except, I’m getting more hits on him of late. I know I can beat him, it’s just whether I will. I’m certainly going to try.
Fuck it, yesterday I would have thought that final 8 was pretty impossible. I’ve got that.
Now I just need to win the thing! And the other thing!
I need to win ALL the things!
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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