Owen went to his first fencing tournament that wasn’t an in-house BCAF competition. We went down to Philly so he could fence in a youth foil tournament for kids born 1999-2002 (how that is U10, I don’t really know, but there’s a lot about fencing that we don’t get yet. For example, why do they use electric equipment if the director doesn’t seem to pay any attention to it when he/she is awarding touches? )
He lost at least three bouts because of yellow/red card penalty points. They said he kept “covering,” or putting his free arm in front of his chest. I noticed most of other kids there didn’t fence with their arms “up and bent” like Owen has been taught, but rather down and straight out behind them, with the palm toward the body. Once Owen finally came up with the idea to hold on to the back of his helmet with his free hand, he went on his winning streak because he wasn’t giving up bouts on penalty points.
But despite the covering issues, Owen finished tied for third, which was quite an accomplishment as he was seeded eighth going into the last pool. I was proud of him for moving up five places in his last seven bouts. (No one other than Owen improved their place from the seeding.)
In his last bout (his 11th of the day), he fenced a boy who had only three or four points scored on him all day. Owen was ahead 4-3 and the kid was freaking out (as was his mom); unfortunately, Owen got called for covering again and lost a point, so it was 4-4 and then the other boy scored to win the bout.
It was also frustrating not being able to coach Owen (we know NOTHING) and the “home club” fencers were getting a lot of coaching. Live and learn. Owen had to fence one girl in the finals pool that he had beat 5-1 earlier in the day. Just before the match, one the directors was telling her “he’s going to do this, so do that, and when he does this, do this.” I guess coaching really does help (!), because she beat Owen 5-3 in that match. I just wish she wasn’t directing WHILE she was coaching.
Since we don’t have a coach, we’re kind of on our own, so I guess Kevin and I will have to start studying fencing so we can help Owen at least a little bit during tournaments until he gets older and more experienced. Fencing is the only sport our kids do (out of football, baseball, wrestling, tennis, soccer, gymnastics, etc.) that neither Kevin or I have done or coached.
As we’re veterans of the wrestling tournament world and the psycho parents there, we weren’t at all surprised to see parents like that at a fencing tournament. One mom sat right in front of the director every match her son fenced with a clipboard and a pre-designed form upon which she recorded every comment and decision the director made. She wouldn’t let her son sign the bout sheet until she had compared it with her clipboard.
I can imagine that kind of thing going on at an elite level, but this was 9-, 10- and 11-year-old-novice fencers. I think they could take it a little bit easy. (Sort of how rec league baseball gives 9-, 10- and 11-year-old pitchers slightly wider strike zones.)
But all in all, it was a great tournament for us and Owen was a star in our eyes. Now, if we could only find someone who would teach him to fence saber!! (He’s always wanted to learn saber and after meeting Keeth Smart a couple of weeks ago, Owen is convinced he should be fencing saber, not foil.)