Friday, January 04, 2008

February 2008 Activity -- Fencing

Saturday, February 16, 1:00-3:00pm
Cost: $135 for private group lesson for four
Fairfax Fencers Health Club, LLC
4433 Brookfield Corporate Drive, Suite J
Chantilly, Virginia 20151

We all met at the Fairfax Fencers Club -- located in an office park in Chantilly. Our instructor (and president of the club), Tom, had decorated the entire club with movie posters, tapestries, swords and a million other fencing-related effects.

Tom provided some history of fencing and the different types of weapons -- sabre, epee and foil -- and passed some of his swords around for us to hold and look at.

Wearing our lames and masks, we took our place on the strip and were introduced to the "en garde" stance, parries 4, 6, 7 and 8, and footwork. We learned to salute, the ballestra, the (running one) advance/retreat, extend, thrust, lunge, recover, and riposte.

We went through some drills. One in particular was quite hilarious -- we had to full at full speed and try to hit a tiny circle with the tips of our foils. We were approximately 0 for 72 with that.

Then, we fenced against each other. Dilettantes Kathleen and Nicole were up first, followed by Amanda and Amy. The videos we took during these duels really helped us study and improve our form will never see the light of day.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

January 2008 Activity -- Self-Defense

Self-defense (aka "Rape Escape")
North Brentwood Community Center
Brentwood, MD

Kicking a 260-lb man across the room sure can be exhilarating. And according to our instructor, Kevin, we better all know how to do this, pronto. Our class began with a rehash of the very sobering statistics about attacks on women, causing us to shift uncomfortably in our standard issue elementary school chairs, silently praying for the arrival of Nick, the "bad guy", who was holding up the start of class.

About 10 minutes later, the pleasantries were finished and we got down to the business of learning the techniques that will hopefully save our lives in the case of an attack. The moves were generally pretty simple, although some were a bit counterintuitive. We mused to each other that we weren't 100% sure we would be able to recall (much less execute) them in case of attack. We did learn a couple of valuable things that we will definitely recall:

1. The ground is your friend
2. Create a barrier between you and the attacker
3. Kick like hell

Nicole and Kathleen were the only dilettantes to come out of the class unscathed. Amy managed to pinch a nerve in her back getting up off the mat after disabling the "bad guy", and then break a nail down to the quick while practicing other moves. Amanda is happy to report that she has no symptoms of a MRSA infection, despite sustaining severe scrapes from the velcro on the "bad guy's" suit. Kathleen managed to remain injury free by wearing a completely padded suit (see photo), which was forced upon her by the instructor who must've heard about her previous adventures on a Segway (see June 2006).*

Scrapes aside, the class was probably one of the most valuable experiences the Dilettantes have experienced. We walked away from it a little more freaked out about our chances of being attacked, but confident that we would be able to channel our inner bad-ass if it did. Oh, and we got certificates to prove it.

*Just kidding! Kathleen wasn't able to join the class due to (mental) illness. If you want to mug one of us, it should be her.