Stabbing a few Koreans before dinner

My rainy Saturday started out a little rough.  I was wandering around the wrong part of Korean University’s campus trying to locate a specific building with a google map, “near the GS25” and a few phone calls to my friend Francis.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t pouring the whole time but eventually I made it to my first fencing tournament in Seoul with about an hour to spare before I had to compete.  I’ve done plenty of tournaments so I wasn’t worried.  I checked out the strips and watched some foil while getting myself “in the zone” when suddenly I saw my coworker Colin and his wife Ruth!  I explained a little about the sport and told them I was glad to have a cheering squad.

A few moments later I read what I thought translated to “Miekuh” under the pool.  Everything was posted in Korean but I beamed with pride at something as trivial as recognizing my own name.  My club mates confirmed that I had my pool assignment; shortly after the real fencing began.  The tournament went well; I went undefeated in the pool having only a few points scored on me through the first 4 bouts.  I knew eventually my opponents would get tougher and started scouting my opposition.

While waiting I made a few friends.  I’m happy to report that fencers in South Korea have the same positive attitude as back home.  The guys I beat were hanging out with me cheering me.  We discussed life in Korea and I learned that one of my opponents is dreading going back to his military assignment tomorrow but excited because he gets to work with a new tank.

The 2 other white guys here were from my club and I fence a few times a week.  Apparently they regularly make the finals and have a bit of a reputation for being the best ones here.  I didn’t mind joining that circle and after easily beating my first two Direct Elimination matches 10-5 and 10-2 (they only go to 15 in the semi finals & finals) I was paired with my club mate Geoff in the top 4.  He had just knocked out Francis in an unfortunate pairing that pitted them together in the final 8.

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Geoff was my first tough bout of the day.  We went back and forth, touch for touch.  Neither of us ever led by more than a few points.  The first period ended 9-9 but I took a quick lead in the second and clinched with a 15-13 victory.  On to the finals!

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I had been watching “orange shoes” all day.  He had good distance, a quick parry-riposte and a strong blade even though he choked up on his French grip to get a few extra inches of reach.  We started off touch for touch at 3-3 but then I made a few mistakes; trying to set up a feign disengage but my actions were too big.  I kept pulling my arm back.  I was down 5-3 before I adjusted my distance and snuck a few hand touches to bring it back to 5-5.

Man this was a work out.  My hand was tiring in this 4th DE 3 and a half hours after the tournament begun.  I spotted those bright orange sneakers and he let me sneak into closer distance.  I went in for the foot a few times, always coming up short but getting out in time to defend.  I like how he was reacting and set up a feign to the foot before flesching.  It was sloppy.  I pulled my arm back and my actions were huge giving him the lead.  Again and again I fell short, rushing in.  Patience I kept telling myself with Geoff shouting advice and reminding me to take it easy and stop going to him.

8-5, I was down again.  I had to stop charging in but the patience never came.  I managed to bring it back to a 1 point deficit before the break but after that 1 minute he took off quickly ending the bout 15-9.  All in all it was a great day.  I took 2nd place, got a great workout and made some new friends.  I’ve gotta remember to be a little more patient and am excited for the next tournament.  I hope he’s there in his orange shoes for a rematch!


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8 thoughts on “Stabbing a few Koreans before dinner

  1. Pingback: Two months that flew by | Live, Learn, Travel, Teach

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  3. Pingback: Stabbity Stabbing Koreans, take two | Live, Learn, Travel, Teach

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