Went back to the fencing club tonight. First time I’d picked up a blade since the fall.
Thursday is our “open floor” night — no lesson, no drilling, just throw on your gear and mix it up. Only six people, on the light side for a Thursday. Many of the people I’ve competed with don’t know if they’re coming back. I wish them well, but also hope they change their minds. Their wit is one thing I hope won’t be permanently lost due to the pandemic.
Our coach set a club policy on masking — if one person needs to wear a mask, everyone must. One of the teens tonight hasn’t been vaccinated yet, so I wore a mask designed for working out under my fencing mask. This mask provided better air intake and therefore worked better than the masks I’d attempted to wear when fencing last summer (a decision that now seems foolish). When the unvaccinated teen left, the three of us still at the club took off our masks — the relief was immediate. I can wear this new mask as I make my way back into the sport, but I’m really looking forward to discarding it.
As I completely expect, the effect of spending so much time away from fencing was evident. I attempted a simple lunge soon into my first bout, but with no flexibility in my legs I kinda stumbled forward. I felt like a hippo trying to tap dance, and was thankful that I didn’t fall on my face.
But when I switched from foil after a few bouts and put on my saber gear, I finally felt the exhilaration that came to me so often on Thursday nights before COVID. The action in saber is so swift that you can only rely on instinct and reflexes; there’s no time for planning a strategy and worrying about its success. You just go, focusing all your energy into single bursts of action. Every cell in my body feels alive when I’m fencing saber, and it’s a thrill I’ve missed sorely this past year and hope to never have to abandon again.