But then sometimes when I look at the people who are at this level in Vet50, and I watched a lot of them at this NAC, I despair a little. Mostly I worry that I won't sustain the feeling I have right now, that my dedication will flag and I'll let myself get lazy about it. I've never been great at sustained discipline toward goals in general, and suspect that *that* will be the biggest challenge. Actually writing this right now is helpful in realizing this: It's not just that I'd need to get back to regular lessons and work harder toward competitive-oriented goals, but also, more so, I'd need to be disciplined enough to do so consistently for years. I know what I will need to do to get better at fencing, but I'm less sure how to become more disciplined about staying the course. Well, I mean I know a little about it, but maybe *that* is a topic I should investigate more deeply.
I've made a little list of ideas and plans toward these goals:
1. Start taking lessons again, consistently, with Russ and Chris Aher. I've thought pretty seriously about looking into lessons with Marshall, but I think that is something that can wait for now. The main thing that has gotten in the way of lessons over the last couple years is work. I'm frequently scheduled to work Monday and Wednesday evenings, my fencing nights. This means I either don't go at all or go late and squeeze in maybe an hour of fencing. When I can only go fencing once a week or less on average, and often only for an hour or so, I want to do open bouting, not lessons. I get so much joy out of open bouting and it simply makes life happier overall in many ways, I'm just not willing to trade that for lessons. So what I need to do is make more time, so I can do both. I've been working at Metskers long enough now that I ought to be able to request Monday and Wednesday evening off most of the time. So, starting in January I am going to do that. Also there is Saturday fencing at noon or so, which I used to go to have gotten lazy about. And I often have to work Saturdays. Still, sometimes I don't and can try to start going again when I am able. Also, I just learned that there is some kind of "advanced class" (?) on Thursday evenings now, which is apparently aimed at and attended by some of the club's better fencers, but also costs extra. Still, it is something to look into.
2. Go to fencing camps, especially the Vet ones. I have never gone to any fencing camp, but have wanted to. The timing and cost (and my laziness I guess, letting deadlines pass, etc) have been the main obstacles. Still, I've heard how great these can be and should try to attend one soon, at the very least. There is the NWFC Adult/Vet Camp in May, which Toby kindly sent me a link about but apparently that webpage is gone. It probably it the June 5-7 Camp this year. I just now signed up for NWFC's newsletter, which should help me keep on the top of it. There is also something John Varney has recommended held by Walter Dragonetti in Las Vegas in late summer or early autumn. He says it is Vet-oriented, not really a "camp", and is in part intended as preparation for people going to Vet Worlds. When I asked how to find out more information he said it is on AskFred. It isn't there *now*, not surprising since it is many months off. Still, sometimes to look into more.
3. Take videos of myself fencing. I've been wanting to do this for a long time and did once or twice some years ago. I've been intending to more recently, but have been a bit shy about making it happen. And also unsure how best to do it at SAS. Marshall wants people to do this and has ideas about it, and a go-pro plus tripod for the purpose, so I just need to ask for more information. I have a camera and tripod I could bring too—though finding a strip where such a thing can be set up during open bouting is tricky; there's one strip downstairs that would work well. I was feeling shy about asking other fencers if they minded my filming us, but at the NAC several of us talked about it and how we all wanted to do it. At the very least John Westmaas and Vadim. And I'm sure few if anyone would actually mind. Just gotta get past my shyness about it I guess.
4. Keep track of my progress, goals, etc. This blog would be a good place for that, amd I am hoping to "reboot" it in this way. At the very least I want to start keeping a "fencing notebook" again, not just for keeping track of goals and progress but also for keeping notes about various fencers, like I used to do. When I did that before, years ago now, a lot of the fencers I tried to keep notes about, so I could refer to them when I had to fence them again, were young, developing fencers. These notes didn't work so well since, well, for example I had an entry for Matthew Comes that I started when he was D-rated. Within a year and definitely within 2 years, these notes were useless since he had developed so much. But if my main goal is Vet50 stuff, not only is the number of fencers less, but their styles aren't going to change as quickly as teenage fencers. I've already begun to compile a list of fencers I will need to deal with in Vet50 over the next several years, including some who are currently Vet40 but almost Vet50, like Erich Crannor.
5. Start regularly doing meditation and mindfulness practice, like I used to long ago. This doesn't relate directly to fencing, but I know it would help a lot, and not just for fencing but life in general. Again the key thing, for me, is the discipline to make myself do this, and do it regularly. I have to get better at that kind of discipline. And learn *how* to get better at it, apparently.
6. Spend more time learning about studying things like sports psychology, competitive planning, and related stuff. For a start I want to re-read the LP Epee book I have, especially its "advanced" section, which is mostly about planning for major tournaments, workout regiments (physical and mental), and general high-level approaches to getting results as a higher-level competitor in epee fencing. Also I plan to actually read the book Joel recommended and I bought a while ago, called "Fighting Dirty" (I think?): It's about high-level competitive tennis, but focuses on the psychology aspects in ways applicable to fencing just as well as tennis. Or so Joel said. I own it, I should read it! Further, I'm sure there are many other ways to study these thing of things apart from these two books, that I could look into. In fact, maybe I should dig up Daido Loori's "The Eight Gates of Zen : A Program of Zen Training", which my little list here suddenly reminds me of. Looking it up just now the "eight gates". They are aimed at Zen practice but general enough to be useful in other contexts I think? They are, with my first guess at how it might be transferred to my fencing goals: 1. Zazen (fencing itself, actually doing it); 2. Study with a Teacher (taking lessons, etc.); 3. Buddhist Study (study of fencing); 4. Litugy (hmm, not sure, something to do with "rituals" and group-participation; gotta think about this one); 5. Right Action (Daido means this as the study and practice of the Buddhist/Zen "precepts"; moral and ethical stuff; again not sure how this might be applied here, but some ideas to think about come to mind); 6. Art Practice (practicing creativity stuff, hmm, again not sure but some ideas come to mind); 7. Body Practice (well this can include things from working out to practicing good posture to general body awareness, and so on; some obvious ways this could relate to fencing practice); 8. Work Practice (hmm this could be many things). ANYWAY, more to look into! I'm sure I have a copy of "The Eight Gates of Zen" somewhere at home.
I wrote all this at the Salt Lake City Airport, post-NAC. Got here way early. But it is getting closer to time to go. Better sign off and see if I can publish this to the blog while there's still a little time here. No time to do a thorough check for tpyos.