What do they know about it…

What do they know about your thrilled look the first time that, in that weird dusty room, you saw those shining blades, lined up one next to the other.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the magic, unforgivable moment in which for the first time, that man dressed in black, whom you didn’t know you were going to call teacher yet, put one of those blades in your hand; and she, your hand, strangely felt completed with her, your first sword.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about hesitation and fear of those first steps, of that uneasiness while struggling with those movements back and forward, trying to pay attention to the feet, the legs, the arms and too many other things at once, thinking it was impossible to do everything that “teacher” was asking you to do at the same time…and it was only about making a step forward!

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the first thrust, the first time that you shyly made that first shot against the plastron, so they said it’s called, of that “teacher” and you feel your blade bending against his body and you are almost surprised, incredolous that you are the one who bent that blade.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the aching legs and the happy soul, that would already go back on that piste right when that first class has ended, when, after greetings and hand shaking, with an uncertain thank you you look at that “teacher” and you understand, because that is when you actually understand it, that he is not just a “teacher”, rather he is your teacher. Continue reading

Teacher vs trainer

Practice is over. I am looking forward to the evening shower in order to wash off all the strain of the day, and while i am taking my shirt off, three violet marks, perfectly parallel amongst each other, peep out at the level of my clavicle. I admit that the first reaction is actually of pride for that “guilty” athlete who has marked me that way; very precise i must say (not even half centimeter between the marks). Then, like i always do, i start thinking.

My brother has a similar job to mine, he is a volleyball trainer, and i am pretty sure that when he comes home in the evening, he doesn’t have to explain ambigous marks on his body to his girlfriend. Now, considering that i am a sport trainer as well, i ask myself if those three marks could possibly have an added value. And, probably in a moment of omnipotence, i tell myself that, at least in part, those three marks are precisely what makes the difference between being a teacher and being a trainer.

After all, for those who have been around fencing platforms, it is quite clear that a teacher is not simply an instructor of that sport. However, the most important question is: why? The most obvious answer is that it’s the athletes themselves who give us the role of “teacher”. Then, why do they look at us differently from how they would look at swimming instructors Continue reading

Fencing and beauty

I am done with all my lessons. Kids are all on platform fencing amongst each other and suddenly an idea crosses my mind. I take my ipod earphones from my backpack and i sit down. I isolate myself from all the outside noises with “Under pressure”, Queen; the show gets started.

Wherever i turn i see assaults perfectly following the rhythm of the music. The athletes, unaware dancers of my personal celebration of the beauty of their moves, probably don’t realize what rather strikes me like a ravishing revelation: fencing is beautiful. And i am not talking about the beauty that everyone sees in their own sport, or the love we feel for an environment we have spent a lot of time in. No. I am simply talking about an absolute aesthetic beauty. A beauty that doesn’t need an hyperbole in order to be described or sing. The same beauty i can possibly find in the Parthenon’s and Colosseum’s perfect proportions, i find it in the perfect syncronization of two athletes trying to steal time from each other, in order to find that smallest chink to perfectly enter.

The perfection i see in a shield and in its reaction, its illusory semplicity gives me emotions because of the elegance and the strenght which simultaneously contains. I am so used to look for the final result that i had almost forgotten to stop and admire the poetry that lies behind an assault, the story that it conceals. A tale of actions and reactions, in a constant dialogue; which is why they talk about fencing sentence. The music keeps going, and Freddy Mercury’s voice Continue reading