~ Eid Special ~ Of Sabre, Hijab, and Ibtihaj Muhammad

Eid Mubarak everyone! Hope you all had a blessed day and let’s pray for those who are going through a tougher time than us during this festive time. I feel like this year’s Ramadhan really kicked me in the gut with all of these mass news coming from the Gaza Strip.

On the other side though, the news of the US Women’s Sabre Team winning a gold medal at the World Championship in Kazan at least managed to distract me. I’ve been seeing them since the last Worlds (which was held in Budapest) where they triumphed over their victory against the Italian Women Sabre Team. It was a pretty thrilling match seeing as the Italians have been well-known to be the fencing powerhouse too.

This particular individual lured me to keep my eyes open on any news regarding the US Women’s Sabre Team.

Source: online.wsj.com

Ibtihaj Muhammad!

I discovered her when I was a complete newbie at fencing. I had a bit of confidence issue I suppose, couldn’t stop asking myself sometimes “is it normal for someone like me to play this kind of sport?” Constantly conscious of the stares people were giving too, wondering whether they were feeling sympathy because I would be burning up inside of these thick gears.

My Dad said that from everything that seems to be negative, always look for its positive side first. Ibti taught me that “the heat is the least of our concern.” As she stated in an article, fencing is something that facilitates her to cover up. Ah, right. Why didn’t I realise this at first instead of bothering whether it’d be warm or not inside of those jackets?

Do not live up to the mainstream’s expectations.

“When most people picture an Olympic fencer, they probably do not imagine a person like me. Fortunately, I am not most people.”

We are benders of the element of surprise afterall hehehe. 😀

it’s also a matter of balance in life. Doing sport benefits a lot for our body, as simple as that. Whatever it is that we practise as our norms shouldn’t hinder us for doing our passions. Sport reveals characters whilst it continuously unleash the best of us and our flaws.

-Nibras S.

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“Weapon Ban” Put Fencing Club To an End

This is a breaking news that I got from Tim Morehouse as he raised the #LetThemFence campaign through Facebook. The first thing that came across my mind as soon as I heard about the news was, ‘ignorance turned into utter misconception.’

“The current interpretation of the non-weapon policy in NDSU… understands our fencing equipment as weapons,” says the club’s coach Enrique Alvarez.

Okay, so an olympic sport is thought to be ‘lethal.’ Honestly I really don’t see how the blunt-point weapons could be considered as harmful. It’s not as if fencers are obsessed of having Victorian era duels in public.

 

The diagram below is based on an article from scientificamerican.com. Fencing as you can see there, is placed on the 27th on the percentage of injured athletes during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Yep, despite the fact that we are engaged in a battle of stabbing flexible metals with each other. Not to mention the thickness of our (somewhat) suffocating armouries, they also contribute in making fencing a safer sport.

LET THEM FENCE!

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The Eyes That See Everything

This is a pretty random story, it took place around February-March this year. It was that time where I was preparing for my very first competition here in England, which was the BYC qualifier for the South West region. I don’t know why but I just find this story pretty amusing somehow and I just couldn’t help but to smile like a cheshire cat every time I recollect the story.

It was one of those (supposedly) ordinary days where we walked to school in the morning as my Indonesian skin tried to fight the chilly winter breeze under the thick coat I wore.

That morning, I recalled that I (idiotically) shove the competition’s sign up form into my cardigan’s lace pocket since I was in a hurry. It’s this thing here.

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My roommate and I walked down as we passed the bus stop we usually encountered in our way. Coincidentally a bus was also stopping there that moment.

The next thing was that my roommate and I, we stopped on our track as soon as we heard someone said “excuse me” from behind. A lad cladded with the typical British school garb told me that I had dropped something and my breath hitched for a moment there.

It was my competition’s sign up form.

I was all, “OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod how could this happen just how stupid am I to actually count on some lace pocket to keep a very important piece of paper blablabla.”

The next thing I knew, I kept on grinning and giggling to myself. Conceit began to somewhat overwhelmed me as I kept on repeating, “God wants me to win in the competition, a medal will be in my hands hehehehe.” This incident, was my main motivator for the competition.

As days passed, I went to the competition and thankfully got into the elimination round. Event hough I only ranked in the 4th place out of five fencers (category U16), I still got a bronze medal and was qualified for the next big thing (which was the British Youth Championship in Sheffield). I told my coach about that particular incident, he smiled as he told me, “Someone is looking after you.”

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Learning is a Process, Not a Race

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This story was based on my personal experience during my first time fencing, I think it was around 2012 when I just started to fence. Every time I practise and did something ‘perfectly right,’ my coach would constantly fired me up with compliments, I got so used to it I think I managed to get to the point where I was blinded by conceit.

One day, my club was invited to an annual competition in a particular school. I was so confident that I would even get to the finals I even trained my victorious scream just the night before the competition (Aish… so embarrassed).

But then in the seeding round, I eventually lost… ouch.

Truthfully, I admitted that I was ignorant of ‘the right of way’ rule in foil that time. My short temper wasn’t making it any easy for me too, resulting the attacks that I executed were parried so many times. I froze on the piste and I couldn’t think of making any move whatsoever, I just let myself became some fencing dummy for them to stab on. I went through a major emotional breakdown after that.

I cried a lot at that time. I put my expectation too high, then when I fell, the pain that I should bear was just too much. The worst part was that I even thought about quitting fencing. I felt like I didn’t even have the confidence to hold my foil anymore (I was a foilist for a short time). I also found how precious my teammates are for me. They helped me to get through all sorts of ups and downs and the thought of moving to another club is just simply unbearable for me.

This also triggered me in believing that no one is made to be a prodigy no matter what sport he or she begins with. Every person has their very own potential and I believe anyone can fence. The difference is in how much we’re putting the effort in every parry, every riposte, every footwork, and every lunge.

 

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JYP Recruited a Hong Kong National Fencing Representative

I know that JYP’s new boy group has debuted for quite some time now. I was on youtube randomly looking for ‘kpop fencing,’ the results shown were those that were related to welcoming the 2012 London Olympics where idols were picked and participated in any kind of Olympic sports. I know that most of them weren’t professionals in the sport but seeing them having fun was enough to make my day.

This one for instance

Turned out, there was another a result in youtube saying ‘GOT7 Jackson Shows Off Fencing Skill.’ Curiosity led me to the video.

Jacksong Wang, a student of American International School and champion for the 2011 Asian Junior & Cadet Championship in Men’s Sabre.

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Why mate, aren’t we just you know… maybe by any chance, destined to be doing the same weapon? He he he…

Ahem

From his instagram #StalkerAlert, I personally think Jackson misses the fencing time he had before he became an idol, looking from the amount of fencing-related photos he have. I really hope Jackson would still be able to continue his fencing training even though he may as well be so occupied with his current schedule and hopefully he would still be able to participate in Asian fencing events.

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See? Even GOT7 is into fencing

By the way, I posted some fencing photos from the 2012 Asian Junior & Cadet Fencing Championship that (coincidentally) was held in my country, in Bali to be exact. I did see some of Jackson’s comrades represented Hong Kong.

ImageThat’s Nicholas Choi, about to fight against a pretty well-known national fencer from my country, Aditya Baskara.

I found several videos of pre-debut Jackson with his fencing teammate. Nicholas here is a foilist so he has a different weapon from Jackson’s. My Auntie fangirl-ed a lot when she saw the Hong Kong foilist, I think she managed to take a picture with him too. Unfortunately though, I didn’t get the chance to catch a glimpse of Men’s Sabre.

Two years later, I discovered a teammate of Nicholas became an idol.

Can I just say… our lovely world is just so small somehow?

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My friend said that I look like a carrot after practise.

Feeling Like The Next Ibtihaj Muhammad (In a Way)

So just last week, I participated in this event called the British Youth Championship Qualifier for England’s South West region.

It was not my first regional competition (I did once before back in my home, Indonesia) but it was the first time I compete during my stay in England.

Honestly I was so anxious and I even found myself in front of the computer staring at Ibtihaj Muhammad all the time. Thinking of finding a way to motivate myself by looking for someone who was ‘in the same boat as I am.’

Sometimes thoughts like “oh are they going to treat me any differently?” or “will there be any reff biasing against me there?” instead of thinking how I should polish my rubbish parry-repost.

But when I encountered a short biography of Ibtihaj, I found myself applauding for Ibti’s coach. The six-time Olympian, Peter Westbrook.

“You cannot allow ‘because I’m Muslim’ or ‘because I’m black’ into play in fencing. The minute you put those in, you’ve lost.”

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Then when the day of the competition came, I finished it off with this.

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Yep, that’s me.

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