As this is my last year (2nd of 2) in the state novice epee "circuit" (if one could call it that: there are only 3 comps all year), I'd like to have a fair crack at it - which for me simply means not losing too many bouts. So with the first comp coming up on 1 April, and me not wanting to be the April Fool, I have resolved to develop at least 2 solid defensive parries and at least 1 good attack.
I spoke to the more junior of our 2 club coaches last night about receiving a lesson a week for the next month at least to work solely on these. Fortunately she had her coaching gear with her (she doesn't always bring it, as sometimes she likes to be 'just' a fencer and do some sparring with the rest of us - fair enough).
It was a really good, almost marathon (40min!), length lesson. We mostly worked on my parry six. Finally, someone explained (and demonstrated) when to use it! Insert sound of Penny dropping here! I think my coaches have always just assumed I'd know when to use it - and the other 7 parries. So parry 6, followed by parry 6 + counter on arm, then chest.
The lesson was closed with some parry 4 work. She seemed quite impressed that I seemed to get it right (mostly) as although the most basic of parries, apparently many folk get it wrong - or perhaps they merely get the counter-attack wrong? Anyway, the reason I got it right (and I didn't mention it to her - and she failed to tell me to do this): I was supinating my wrist. Although I've read about it, no coach has ever corrected my "straight" wrist. It was kind of a "light bulb" moment for me.
She also pointed out that my en garde was wrong - more specifically my elbow was too far out to right, thus exposing it and half my forearm. Funny, because I've suspected for a while it might be wrong, I just didn't think that was the problem.
Overall a good, albeit long, lesson. (Shoulders and back are bit sore today though)
Followed it up with a bit of sparring. Scored a good 3 foot shots off one of the more experienced epee-ists (final score 9-10 - a satisfactory score IMO given his level of experience). In another bout after being 6-10 down, I managed to pull it back to 10-10 with a series of arm hits before losing by only 1 point (14-15 - with doubles all the way up!).
All in all, it was a good fencing night - and good to be back. (The Missus had been preparing for an exam so I decided not to fence for the 2 weeks prior to that to assist with parental duties)