Training in a Different LandWritten by Joshua Riker-Fox
Hello. I left Canada Wednesday to train in Paris and to do a small training comp here (with Kelly Fitzsimmons and coach Denis). We are at INSEP which is their National Sport Centre.
It's a very nice place, steeped with quality athletes. Most are French of course, but I've also seen an Algerian and a Kazahk. And, some Canadians... Ironically, the men's sabre team is here training and Sandra Sassinne, who is the lone female Saber athlete. They are working toward London and going through similar trials as us. We just finished dinner and it was nice to eat with a few other Canadians. And cause they are fencers, they have great stories. haha. It's neat too - their coach is a Russian who they all seem to respect very much. He coached the Russians at the last Olympics and when the team finished 4th, where they were expected to win, he was fired. So Canada's gain. He doesn't seem like most Russians I've been around. He smiles and tells stories. Another highlight here, was watching via the interweb a previous pent team mate of mine (Tigran Bajoric), who fences now and was at a World Cup in Qatar. He had a lifetime best result of top 8 which is huge. Inspiring to watch while in the middle of training here.
On Thursday we go to Hungary. The Budapest Indoor Meet is this weekend. It is an annual event and it will be a big one this year. Canada will have myself and four other athletes participating, which is a good turnout. I am intending on sharpening each event based on what I learned this week in Paris. Then I am headed home, with a brief stint in Saskatoon for CanWest Track champs on Feb 24/25. I feel good and will work hard to push my abilities up and up. I have reflected on what I've learned over the past couple months. I had a really good fencing lesson from Peter Ho in Montreal after the tournament there. Peter is Chinese and a hilarious coach. Peter is a warm character, but this can't be mistaken for ease of expectations. Despite just competing, he still kicked my ass in the lesson. Before a lesson, he asks how spicy you want it. He's Cantonese I believe and if you say spicy, anticipate trouble getting out of bed the next morning. He made the lesson look effortless while I looked like a new fencer. Through the lesson he offered many anecdotes to life and fencing, which seemed to be related closely in his mind. In one action, I asked him what was the best approach between two choices. While we are continually moving back and forth and I'm pondering if he'd notice if I threw up in my mask, he says it's like a date - if the girl wants a drink, you do a that, if she wants dinner, you do that. OK, duly noted Peter and thank you. We continued through the lesson with many pieces of advice in the midst of my screaming legs and uncoordinated movements. I was tired! I think my favorite offering was with regard to how hard to initiate a first action. The first action is to suck in the opponent, so basically mis-lead them. You may continue after that action or retreat expecting the opponent to fall for it. The first time I initiated the action, he stops and firmly says with a thick Cantonese accent "Hey, it's like a girl on a first date - you have to show you are interested in her... too passive!" OK, I got it, ... I think. Next attempt I initiate stronger and again the accent, his mask comes off and he looks at me "Hey, it's like a girl on a first date - you can't act like you want to sleep with her." Thanks Peter. The moral of that story is coaches from other countries who are in Canada usually have a story worth listening to. Or sound advice. Thanks for checking in. Josh.