Young and sporty

So I’ve been having some occasional knee pain. I visited Dr. Google this morning — yes, even Canadians with our lovely healthcare still sometimes put off going to the real doctor. They (I refuse to gender Dr. Google) suggested it was possibly Chondromalacia Patella. That matched up with my symptoms pretty well, and in addition, Dr. Google suggested this was a common injury in “young, sporty women.”

That clinched it. Young and sporty describes me to a T. (I ignored the next sentence about it also occurring in old, arthritic people)

All right, fine, I’m not young. I’m forty-five. But I have been sportier in the last year than in all the other years of my life put together, and I’m engaged in a rather knee-intensive sport, so I’m pretty sure that’s it.

What sport are you sporting, Rachel? you might ask.

Friends, I have taken up fencing, and it is the greatest thing ever. My husband and I took it up together, in fact, because he’d read an article that said the happiest couples are the ones who try new things together. I think we can both attest: stabbing your spouse with an épée is fun and good for you.

This sport requires far more athleticism than I am actually capable of. I’m sort of terrible at it, but as Carla Speed McNeil used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” I think that goes double for fencing.

Last night my husband recorded one of my matches. Alas it was one of my losses (the odds were about 50/50) but even so, I present it here for your amusement. No, I’m not embarrassed. I’ve belly-danced in restaurants; I left my shame under a rock somewhere.

I know, it looks nothing like Olympic fencing. Our teacher is almost 80, and he was trained by (possibly) Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. We’re learning the old classical style — no fly-flicking or bounding around like caffeinated squirrels. Which is fine, because I am literally using every athletic bone in my body to produce these magnificently stodgy results.

Oh is it fun, though. Oh does it force your brain and body to work together in ways they don’t usually have to. I know it doesn’t look like it, because you can’t see us thinking (and we’re not doing much feinting in this match), but it’s like full-body action chess. In fact, unexpectedly, I’ve been playing chess with my son recently and I find I’m looking at THAT differently, faking him out over here so I can jab him over there.

There is no sword-fighting in TESS OF THE ROAD, alas — I’d finished writing that book before I took up fencing — but in book 4, the one I’m working on now? Oh hell yes.


3 Comments on “Young and sporty”

  1. Katerina says:

    I’d love to learn fencing! I picture myself as The Man in Black from that amazing scene with Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride. But I think I’m more of a Andre the Giant sort. Lol

  2. It’s funny, at a conference last fall I listened to two former fencers/current linguists discuss how fencing was like chess!

  3. […] Rachel Hartman, whose latest Goreddi novel, Tess of the Road just came out, writes on her blog about fencing. The fun […]


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