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.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the feeling the first time you wear the uniform, probably already used by someone else, dirty and most definitely of 2 sizes bigger than yours, and the astonishment, of having to tie it on the side, the annoyance of those suspenders and that way of dressing that, you will never confess to anyone, in your mind, you actually love, because it reminds you of something of ancient, which perpetuates itself, immutable, for centuries.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the first assault, the first time you got on the piste to fence, with an empty mind, the teacher, your teacher, looking at you, with an amused smile on his face, which you don’t understand, because you would rather be somewhere else in that moment, you hear the “ready, go”…And then the pain, burning pain, somewhere on your chest, shows you that fencing is also pain…a tear is about to come out, but you don’t give up, and you take it back. You certainly didn’t expect it was going to hurt that much, didn’t seem like it on tv, but there is no time to think about it now, again ready go, and here we go again, another thrust hits you, same pain, same tear. And so on for about 4,5 times more, until you understand that you have to move, back and forward, something like that, you don’t really know it yet. But you have to do something. Then all of a sudden, it’s you, you are the one who is touching, a light goes on, but you don’t feel the usual pain, you wait for it but you don’t feel it, because you haven’t been touched, but you did, that is your light, your first thrust, wild yet silence celebrations take all the tears back in.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about you counting bruises under the shower at the end of every practice, when your arm is full of marks that you almost want to play that game of connecting the dots, and see what kind of figure comes out of it. What do they know about chatting in the changing rooms, when you realize that you are alone on the piste, but not outside, when you realize that an individual sport can also have deep team spirit, when talking about this and that, the thrust in the last assault, that amazing fencer who when she passes by your tongue gets dry, you see the same madness in the eyes of those talking to you, they call it passion, the same madness you have in your eyes when you see that you are not the only one feeling that way.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the fear in that first assault in a competition, that first competition, even though they are all first competitions, because that weird fear the first time you get on a fencing piste will never leave you, your empty mind, the echo of the voices around you as if your hears were full of cotton, those mechanical gestures, the control of your weapon, that protective gear, that gesture to check if everything is in place, a last look to your teacher behind you and then…then it’s you…you and your opponent, the referee a simple supporting actor of that moment when all those hours spent in the gym trying and trying and trying, finally make sense.

What do they know about it…

What do they know about the taste of victory or how much a defeat burns, what do they know about finding yourself in some sport centre’s changing rooms of whatever italian city, after having slept in the umpteenth hotel, you’ve lost count, together with those like you that have gone out in that turn, those who have lost because of…And the number on the scoreboard doesn’t count…what do they know about celebrating a succesful assault, maybe even after a come back, maybe on the 14 tied, maybe at the last minute, when right before “ready”, you feel that same fear you’ve felt years before, that empty mind and that same look at that same teacher, maybe a bit of more white hair, and then your gaze moves to the machine and you look for the confirmation to what your soul already knows, that only light on, that scream, that same angry exultation of when you shyly made the first thrust, which is not silent anymore, it’s a shout which comes from inside, which eradicates fears, anxiety, which wildly rides your happiness, which makes this moment unique, unique like every single moment throghout the years on every piste you’ve stepped on…a set of unique moments, spent between trainings, games, waking up at the most horrible timings, sundays spent in the gym, mondays counting the aching muscles, telling about the most impressive thrusts…

What do they know about it…they…those who don’t know, those who ask if you “play” fencing, those who have never had the pleasure nor the honour to look at the world through the metal net of a fencing mask.

 

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