Sunday, March 06, 2011

Learning to fence, part II

So, it's been a while since I went to the SESH salle. In fact, I'm afraid I may have let my membership lapse by mistake, but then again, not only is the school no longer in desperate need of my euros, but I've begun to think that paying, on average, 50 euros per class may not be the best possible use of my limited funds. (Annual fee + monthly training fee comes to about that, if I manage to attend one class a month. But numbers are not my strong suite.)

Instead, I've been training (when I've been training) at the EHMS. Instead of owning a salle, EHMS has training sessions in various places around Espoo, all of them remarkably closer to my Espoo home that Jakomäki is. Even the times are more convenient (although it says something about my social life that I find Friday night a convenable time to train), especially now that there are two sessions a week. To my surprise I also find that I enjoy the slightly ad hoc feeling of the migratory school.

The training that Ilkka leads at EHMS feels very different from Guy's at SESH. On the one hand, I really enjoy the sessions at the Jakomäki salle that fill all the senses and employ all the faculties, where a class without sections on body mechanics and wrestling is incomplete, and where the warm-up alone is liable to disable you from actual training. (Yep, I'm very much out of shape and keep forgetting it.) On the other hand, EHMS is lighter, easier on the ego, less likely to induce angst about incompetence.

Most of the differences are due simply to the fact that I've trained at Jakomäki for nine years (if you consider my last three to have qualified as training) and that time has encompassed a lot of things: advancing quickly to become a free scholar and class leader, then having two children and falling back into regular student-hood with all the attendant difficulties of motivation, status and skill deficit... All accompanied by acute emotions, I'm not ashamed to admit. So whenever I step in the salle door, the past hits me in the face with almost palpable force and by the time I've changed into my black-and-whites I'm sweating with annoyance and anxiety. Not to mention envy of anyone who's been with the school for less time that I but who outperforms me, which includes almost everybody. My problems are mostly, if not exclusively, in my own head and heart, but that doesn't make them less real. At EHMS I can leave all that crap behind and just fence. And although the Bolognese style is not as thoroughly me as Fiore's longsword, I end up going more often because it's just easier on so many levels.

One concrete difference I can point to is the number of reps. Ilkka has us do lots more repetitions of each action before going on to the next technique, and at EHMS I haven't really had the experience yet of my head becoming full before the class ends. At SESH my brain usually fills up about halfway through the longsword material, and I maintain that this is not due to it being a more complicated art but rather to Guy's way of having less reps in favour of covering more material. I'm kinda dumb, and the less-brain-more-brawn is more suited to my personal learning profile.

After a months-long hiatus in training, and then basically coming to a whole new style on restarting, it's interesting to observe what happens to old skills and reflexes. Last Friday I was painfully aware of my hands having forgotten how to cut. Today, to my delight, they had begun to remember. My basic footwork is awful, but the slightly more advanced footwork is actually passable. I'm also now beginning to get back into a training mentality, instead of the "I can beat you, I want to beat you!" insanity of the past few weeks.