Yesterday’s tournament was a success. My coach gave me a goal of one touch per bout — yeah, she was setting the bar low as far as results go — and maintaining my enthusiasm throughout the day. “You need to go through the whole process. Show up with a smile in your face and sunshine in your heart.”

Had four bouts in the preliminary round. Started against a teen from my club, someone who’s on the verge of getting his E and who had made quick work of me in practice bouts a few times. Got off to a good start, scoring a couple touches on effective ripostes, but when I was ahead 2 -1 my opponent decided he’d seen enough of me, and scored the next four. Faced a novice fencer who I had struck up a conversation with earlier (I decided that making connections was an important part of the process) — got three touches against him. I then faced an E rated collegiate fencer, a guy who was likely to earn his D that day. Made it my goal to get one touch on him — let’s just say that didn’t happen. Last bout was against another novice, and I only scored one touch.

Ended the prelims with six touches — more than my coach’s goal, but I felt I should have scored more against the two novices. I started the direct elimination poorly, down 9 – 1 at one point, before I found an inner spark, started focusing and driving myself. Yelling “COMPETE!” to myself several times, and relying more on changing tempo and patterns in my footwork than on blade action, I got in six more touches before yielding the fifteenth. The way I look at it, I tied on the last twelve touches.

Had some more equipment issues along with way (more on that later), but got through them. Went through the whole process, like my coach asked. No wins — still got the monkey on my back, but yesterday I felt like I stepped forward in spite of the burden, rather than letting the weight immobilize me.

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