Swordfish, The World Stage – The Climb #286

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Swordfish, The World Stage – The Climb #286

Friday 3rd November 2017

If you asked a load of fencers what the defacto world championship for swordfighting was, the vast majority would point to Swordfish.  Held each year in Gothenburg, the fact that it attracts so much of the world’s best talent means that it’s the competition everyone wants to win.

I first went a year ago.  I knew I was a little inexperienced and went in fully prepared to lose every single fight.  I’d always said that 2016 was the year I got my health and skill up to everyone else’s level, 2017 would be the year I overtook.

I’d had a frustrating summer in 2016.  I’d invested a load of time and effort into my swordfighting and wasn’t seeing any benefit.  At fightcamp that year I was ready to quit.

The thing about Swordfish, is the pressure.  It’s the biggest stage for historical swordfighting, and that pressure can make some people, it can crush others.  I’ve seen friends who went in 2016 get so badly crushed by the experience that it’s taken them almost a year to recover.

For me however, it was the making of me.  That pressure helped me find my focus.  And whilst I lost every single fight I had, I came away so vastly levelled up by that experience that I went and entered a competition the next week only to walk away with my first ever medal.

So for me, Swordfish is an important milestone in my fencing career.  It marks the point where I massively levelled up.  In every tournament since Swordfish 2016 I have placed quarter finals or better.  And this year’s competition is what I’ve been working all year towards.

And so today’s tournament was a benchmark for me.  It was for me to see how good I now am, to see how much I’ve progressed in a year.

Given that it’s full of the very best fencers in the world, the pressure to win was almost non-existent for me.  What would be, would be.

Of course, I had aims.  Our best first timer came in around 24th last year and so that marked a good target for me to be ‘happy’ with my performance.

Wessex on Saturday taught me that I do need a warm up fight, and luckily I was able to find one.  Reinis is a friend of Pim’s and a world-class fighter.  Fighting him felt good.  Perhaps he was being nice to me but I was getting a lot of hits on.  I figured they’d probably be the only hits I might be getting.

There were 5 in our pool.  That meant just 4 fights.  Some people say it’s a lot of expense to travel all the way to Sweden for just 4 fights… but I know that if I want to get better I need to get experience against the very best.  And so when I saw my pool contained a former Swordfish champion I was excited rather than scared.

With only 4 matts, they couldn’t run all the pools at once.  Mine was one of the first, but it allowed Pim to coach me from the sidelines.

The matches went in a blur.  My first fight was against a Russian… and as we all know the Russians are to be feared.  Yet I fought well and I’m pretty sure I capped on points.

Next was the former Swordfish champion.  He completely outclassed me and this time it was him who capped against me.  I don’t think I got a single point against him.

Next was a girl I am friends with on Facebook.  She had great style and progressed against me very well but I was the better fencer and won a clear victory.

After that was the real testing fight.  I fought Stephen from another British club last year and he completely destroyed me.  If ever there was a benchmark fight to see how well I’d progressed it was this.

I fought well and won the fight.  I could tell by the way Pim was slapping me on the shoulders he was pleased with my performance.  I’d won 3 and lost 1

However the last opponent was tough as well.  He was ideally suited to my weaknesses as a fighter but last weekend had prepared me well.  He was quick and fast and whilst he didn’t destroy me like he had most of the others, I still lost.

Still I was happy.  I’d won 3 and lost 2 when I said that my aim was to try and win 1 fight.  I went and watched the other pools and felt content that I’d done well.

I’d not realised how well though.  It turned out I finished 17th.  That was just one place short of making the elminations.  And whilst many would be annoyed, given how many world-class fencers don’t even make it out the pools, to come top of the eliminated fighters was a huge achievement.  In just a year I’d gone from being the worst there to a proper contender.

Sure I have loads to work on.  I never came here to try and win it this year, just do as well as I could.

I needed to take myself away after that and unpack my head because I was a little shocked by it.  I could tell by the responses from back home that people were equally as impressed by my result.  A slightly different fighter in my pool and I might have made it.  Pim even said he noticed me regather my composure at one stage.

Whilst I’m slightly sad that my run of quarter-finals has come to an end, my performance on the world stage has proven that I’m not to be underestimated.  I can go toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world and I have a year to go away and improve even more.  I want eliminations next year.

So I end the day feeling a little shellshocked and so damn proud of myself.  This is a product of a year of hard work.  Indeed the decision to train being more offensive came from Swordfish 2016.  It was where the Year of the Offensive was born.  I feel just as last year took me from coming last to getting to quarter finals, so this year has taken me from being a decent fencer to being a world-class one.

With the competition being harder than ever (both Pim and Sasha got knocked out) my result is even more of an achievement.  And with my plans coming together for my training for the year ahead, so I think next year’s Swordfish should start to see me making marked progress towards winning the thing.  Some people might think I’m deluded… but you only have to look at the results today to see the evidence that I’ve already achieved more than I set out to do.

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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2017-11-06T17:08:10+00:00 November 4th, 2017|Swordfighting, Travel|0 Comments

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