For this journal entry, I want to share what I have been working on for the last three months, the process I’ve used, and what I have learned. I want to share this cool experience for a few reasons. Primarily, I’m hoping that what I have been doing will encourage other people to try something similar for themselves. I also want to share how the articles and tools on the website have helped me personally, and how I think they can help all of us. Additionally, I want to invite anyone who is interested in making a similar journey to join me. I really feel that anyone can try this and become a better fencer for it.
Why Did I Decide to Do This?
My journey began earlier this season. I had a setback that was really very difficult for me. It was my own fault too, which always makes it worse, and it really got me down. Which I think we can all relate to. We all have rough nights at fencing. What happened to me was so simple too, all I did was miss a block. Unfortunately, the shot that landed was one of those perfect combinations of all bad. I was moving too fast, the tip landed in the center of my mask, didn’t deflect in any direction, and the blade didn’t flex at all. It felt like being hit in the face with a steel pipe. It was not a great night, and it took me a couple weeks to recover.
How I Decided to Move Forward
After obsessing a little about missing that block, and analyzing it over and over, I decided it was time to do something about it. The thing I discovered within myself was a strong desire to move forward, and a willingness to try. There was only one way to do that: by simply doing it. So I got busy.
I decided to test a few things to see if they really work. By the way, they really do, which I think is fantastic! I used tools from our own website. I read many of the articles and Woodland Watches. From them I gleaned what I needed to do to improve my situation. To start with I analyzed my weakness in blocking, without beating myself up. Then with some guidance I set a SMART goal. I sought the help of my mentor who is my former Master, and together we lighted upon the idea of building my confidence and working on the basic blocks using the 100 Day Winter Warrior Challenge. I printed off the challenge sheet and began practicing the blocks each day.
As I started out, I realized I would need to do other things to be really successful. I quickly saw the need to build time into my schedule to work on my blocks. I practiced what I wrote about in The Power of 20 Minutes and guess what? It works! I also made a dedicated space to practice in. I enlisted help from members of the Order and my husband. And with all these tools, tips, and tricks, practicing my blocks has now become a daily habit that I actually look forward to. I even miss it on the rest days.
Anyone can do this. It doesn’t have to be blocks like what I am doing, you can even develop your own challenge. You can use the tools on the site, or others that you have learned, to enable yourself to move forward with what you desire. Maybe it is better blocking, maybe it is better footwork, point control, or even having a better attitude. The point is that you have to be willing to try and simply do it.
What I Am Doing
Just in case it might be helpful, I am going to explain what I am actually doing. But this is just the way I am doing it. You can develop your own method. I’d love to hear how you are implementing your plan too, because it might help me, or someone else. The more we share the better we all become.
Each night, at roughly the same time, I turn on a playlist I created for this purpose. I do a couple of exercises to get me in the ‘zone,’ then I go through each of the blocks in sequence, returning to the ‘en garde’ starting position between each. I keep track of each set of blocks with Jenga bricks, when I complete a set I knock one over. I like the feedback it gives. When I’m finished with all the sets for that day, I mark off the box on the challenge sheet, write down anything I learned on the same sheet, then I set up the Jenga bricks for the next day.
Sometimes I go through the sequence quickly, but more often I go through it slowly. I take time to think through each block. It’s simple, but it has taught me so much about better blocking. I’ve also taken my practice to fencing, focusing on performing the blocks against real opponents the same way I do them at home. And this process has significantly improved my blocking.
The Take Away
Here is what I have learned from this: success isn’t always measured in wins. There was a great Woodland Watch about this. I’ve actually stopped paying attention to how many bouts I win any given night. Instead, I’ve been focusing on how many blocks I can successfully do before one of us ‘dies.’ It’s fun, and I’m seeing my improvement week by week. At the beginning it was one or two blocks per bout, but now the number is much higher. I feel like my confidence has increased as well. I believe in myself more. Which I think is something we could all benefit from. This is success. I still have more work to do, but seeing how much I’ve improved already, I’m highly encouraged to work harder.
In my mind, this whole experience started like a setback, but with help, the 100 Day challenge, consistency, and smart work, it has become a spring forward. Please join me. This has been, and will continue to be a wonderful experience and I’d like others to go through it as well. Everyone can improve. Even the most advanced fighters can learn from this. I strongly encourage you to find your weakness. Set a SMART goal. Get help. Make a plan, and stick it out. You’ll get better. your confidence will build, your skill will improve. It is worth it. And, it’s fun!