Earlier this spring, after an in-house tournament at the DC Fencing Club, I asked Janusz Smolenski, the club's head coach, what would be the next steps for Z, given that he is enjoying his weekly group lessons so much. Janusz replied, in his delightful Polish accent, "Steven [it is not only at Beijing BISS International where we have son who goes by Steven] can come to footwork class."
You can tell I am a total newbie when it comes to fencing. Apparently, footwork is so important to becoming a successful fencer that there is an entire class devoted to the honing these skills.
"How much does this footwork class cost?" I asked. To my mind, this was the natural next question.
"Footwork class? There is no charge for footwork class. Just come."
Now you're talking my language!
Fast forward a few days...Walking into the club that night, neither Z nor I had any idea what he was in store for. The place was literally packed. Dozens of fencers of all ages, from Z's age all the way up to seniors. Unlike Z, most of them did not have their fencing clothes on. We soon found out why...
Footwork class, it turns out, is a pretty intense workout/fitness session, specifically designed with the training needs of fencers in mind. There is no actual fencing or
Three steps forward, two steps back, lunge, drop down and do five push ups, get back up and take two steps forward and one step back, bounce in place, lunge, drop back down and do some crunches and other ab work, stretch for a few minutes...
That first night, I came home, laid down on the carpet, and tried to do some of the exercises, prompting Desi to predict that it wouldn't be long before I was out there taking part in footwork class. (So far I haven't bitten, preferring instead to head out to the nearby Georgetown Branch Trail for quick runs.)
As for Z, he claims that his arm strength is already improving. What there is no doubt about is that Z has already learned the most basic lesson about footwork class...Whatever you do, don't wear your fencing clothes!