The welcome was warm and friendly; box ticked. The warm up (unfortunately, having judged this club on past experience, I went for a 7 mile run in the morning) was thorough and in places, reminded me of PT warm up sessions with the RAF Regiment and the Paras, only Gordon (one of the instructors at this club) doesn’t intersperse expletives the way a Sgt does with Officer cadets!
One of the club members gave me a pair of breeches; he had ordered them online and arrived too big. Well, that was me locked in; I had to come back now! this member turned out to be Oliver, See photo 2
After a fine warm up, I was introduced to the kit, it seemed straight forward enough (first major mistake), got kitted up and was ushered under the wing of a lovely lady called Val who was to be my teacher. The basics were taught in a clear, fun and succinct manner and knowledge was imparted with much enthusiasm. We learnt how to hold the foil, correct stance and footwork, the importance of balance and movement for the purposes of attack and counter. i.e. how to commit yourself fully, but not so much to get you into trouble and not be able to recover if the opponent counters. The footwork is very similar to the linear footwork in Muay Thai, a sport in which I have been a student, instructor and international competitor in for 25 years now, however its practically identical to the stance and foot work in Kyokushinkai Karate, adopting front stance or Zenkutsu-dachi 前屈立, the forward and backward movement follow the same principles.
At 10pm when the class came to an end, I felt like I’d been there 5 minutes. We finished up, put the kit away and left. Everyone was friendly and even invited us to join them, after a shower, in the pub before heading home.
On the way home the endorphins were buzzing and I was aware I was running at the mouth, I was already looking forward to the next session.
Mid week was spent looking at kit, PAH! There were too many options, too many price differences to work out what was right and wrong.
Later during the week, I emailed Lucy from the club re kit. She helped!