The 34th Bristol Open happened yesterday. As one of the largest epee competitions in the domestic calendar this was not the easiest choice for a first competition on the circuit. As the first competition of the season there was no real choice whether or not to go. Plus the experience would at least prepare me with plans to attend the Nationals next year.
Traveled across to Bristol on Saturday and spent the day exploring the city, from the waterfronts to St Nicholas. Spent most the day in Starbucks working on Linear Algebra exercises. Checked in the evening to the Rock and Bowl Motel, a dubious accommodation in central Bristol. The hostel did turn out OK, friendly staff and a great atmosphere if I were backpacking. The facilities were quite neglected and I almost threw up after discovering some solid organic mass located in a sink on Sunday morning. I’ve stayed in much worse places.
They did place me just above what turned out to be a night club which I wasn’t best pleased with, but after a little negotiating they moved me to a very empty dormitory and refunded my entire stay. Which to be honest, isn’t too bad at all.
The City Academy Sports Centre was a spacious and pleasant venue, with outdoor space for a breather and catering available all day. Unfortunately the fencing went terribly, a combination of underestimation, lack of sinking into a rhythm, confidence and too many doubles. A blur it was, I soon found myself out, losing all poule matches and only ten or so from bottom. Two of my biggest weakness were exploited quite a fair bit, and I was surprised how quickly they were seized upon. I didn’t pay too much attention to the other matches in my poule – a mistake as I could have learned a lot from these bouts about the fencers and define a strategy.
Furthermore while I had the general goal of winning every single match and taking them one at a time, I don’t think I had a clear enough focus on strategy within the bout or concentrating too much on what my next action would be.
My good friend Rob who supported me during my short lived competition did impress me with his new training aids, two Taekwondo training pads, and using them to practice lunges, flicks and fleches; reacting the the movements of pad wielder. Fifteen pound from Argos, modded with Velcro to turn it into a wall mounted lunge pad as well.
At the end of the day I made some rookie mistakes and the important thing is not to make the mistakes again for the next competition – which will be Sussex if not Shropshire. My plan moving forwards is:
- Create an action plan sheet to follow my progress through future tournaments
- Observe all poule fights and DE’s if they’re on the same piste for future opponents and analyse their play.
- Make notes after each match on what went right and what went wrong and why.
- Focus on training in situations outside my current comfort zones.
- Think more strategically, focus on every action and second intention. Don’t preempt.
Another positive was being knocked out early meant I was one of the lucky few epeeist not effected by the delays in the organisation this year which saw a three hour wait at least for the womens’ second wave. And congratulations to Mary for winning the Women’s epee.