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Schlock Mercenary
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January 8th, 2006

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06:58 pm - Argh !
I appear to have contracted a horrible affliction - Henmanitis.
That is, the ability to be a good sport, worthy competitor, decent tennis player fencer ... and never bloody win anything (or even to get the sort of results I'm capable of) !


(In the last six competitions, I've lost DE bouts 14-15 four times. It's starting to be a) frustrating, b) annoying, c) a habit, d) all of the above. Guess which ?)
Current Mood: crushedcrushed

(1 touche | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
I'm thinking (d) :-)

Warning: long unsolicited advice follows.

First of all: look at your competition calendar. If you have a break of more than a fortnight sometime in the next two months, start changing then. If you have no break for six months, don't bother trying to change if you want "this season" to carry on as it is. Ignore the rest of this, and review in six months. On the other hand, if you have no break but are willing to either take one anyway, or potentially lose earlier in many more competitions, then heck, start changing now. You can always try something different later.

Next: have you got a coach/mentor? Talk to him/her about this. If you don't have a coach, think about why not.

Next, I set up some false-but-hopefully-helpful dichotomies. In reality of course performance is a hopelessly muddled blend of these, but anyway. They are: physical/mental; strength/fitness; physicality/technique. Of all of these, the way you describe the problem (dropping important bouts by one touch) suggests to me mental problems: that you are reasonably evenly-matched, but at the end you lose confidence or concentration and away goes the bout. On the other hand, perhaps you are simply not dominating bouts you should own, and these opponents should not be getting so close that a last-moment slip is a problem. On the other other hand, maybe you are on the crux of levelling up, and have been fencing slightly beyond your reasonable expectations: they "ought" to dominate you, but you don't let them. Obviously this last is frustrating but it's not really a problem (see 1k/1d barrier in another context...)

For mental preparation: visualisation, relaxation and confidence. Consider (a) yoga; (b) a coach (work on "easy" things up to competition, "hard" things after a short break after competition); (c) some reading: The inner game of tennis, Gallwey; anything by Aladar Kogler. Spend time on footwork, as a way of making space for relaxed performance, quiet review, and visualisation/preparation. Re-fence bouts, but this time win them :-) (Like memorising chess/go games, memorising your bouts seems impossible at first but it just takes practice.) Spend more time not bouting. Focus on what you do well.

That's important: acknowledge mistakes and things you aren't happy with, but take time to concentrate on things you really do well.

Strength/fitness. You mention elsewhere that you are a bit heavier than you were, and that you are eating more. I think this is probably a good thing. Have a look at your current gym programme. Humour me and move it in the direction of increasing muscle mass and power. Yes, I know about endurance, and not carrying weight you won't use, but I think all of us amateurs are a long way from that point. You want to be able to move like lightning at the appropriate time: olympic-style or power lifting are the best ways to develop this.

Physicality/technique. Slow coaching for never not-fixing-the-point. Clear bouting with mindful review for integrating everything. Speed and endurance to last the day with a still-working brain (rather than a body that is just moving), and efficiency of action to avoid needing to rely on your physical power.

To my way of thinking epee is the quintessential weapon of efficiency and mental domination; these are areas where I think you have a real potential to shine.

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