Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Way to a Man's Heart is with a Broadsword

by KAK 

Shall I tell you of my first kiss? Of the thundering pulse, the breathless anticipation, the lurch and heave of my heart against my chest?

It hurt like hell.

There is nothing quite like watching finely crafted metal bend as a rubber-tipped blade kisses your Valkyrian breast plate…or the perfectly round bruise said plate leaves on your Itty-Bitty-Titty-Committee chest. 

The essence of fencing is to give, but by no means to receive. – Moliere

I’d missed that memo. My opponent, Big Brute, missed the part where we were living in the 20th century learning a sport of gentlemen. He seemed to be locked in a time warp where he was a recruit in Attila’s army. Fortunately, there was masochistic delight in being schooled by a fencing master. While my mind silently screamed “JebusFuckAll,” my body instinctively returned to the starting pose. 

Shoulder back, narrow the box. Relax your grip, relax your knees. Center your weight, center your mind. Slow your breath, control your pulse. Hear nothing. See everything.

“En Garde.”

Breathe out tension and doubt. Let your opponent draw them in. Your weapon is an extension of self. Connect with it. Feel it breathe with you.


See nothing more than your opponent. Focus on the box not the blade. His tells live in the box.

Trust instinct.

The first months few lessons of fencing foil, I got kissed a lot. A lot, a lot, aaaa loooooot. I never managed to give a kiss. There are endless reasons why: I was a noob. I watched too many Errol Flynn flicks. I was distracted by the hot guy wearing cow boxers over his white knickers. ‘Eff the Miyagi and Yoda crap. I had all this…aggression that would, WOULD, damn it, make me King of the Hill.

It made me a melodramatic jackass.

I was too busy mimicking and posturing that I missed the art behind the sport, the romance of civilized conflict. If I had wanted to kill somebody, I should have learned Epee. I didn’t. I just wanted to inflict a little damage, play the game of strategy over brawn. I was really more Captain Blood than Braveheart. I wanted my opponent to feel the double kiss of my foil, not be plowed under by it. 

Yes, Virginia, there is Kissing in Combat

The foil’s Double Kiss is the Parry and Riposte. There is a tempo to it. A heartbeat. Beginners in fencing, much like nervous lovers, take it slowly at first. Lightly knock aside your opponent’s blade, then hit your opponent’s box (aka, the torso…not that other euphemistic box). The better you get the faster you go. Sure, there’s fancy footwork when you’re truly skilled, some spectacular flying leaps...it could be a ballet if it wasn’t over in five seconds.

The kiss is always there.

One night, after getting my ass served to me repeatedly, the master tipped my foil to the ground and stared at me until silence swept the school. He shook his head. “There is no need to arm-wrestle with your opponent. All it takes is one sweet kiss to ruin a perfect attack.”

One sweet kiss.

“Of course,” you cry. It’s been the downfall of kings and countries. It is the bane and boon of countless religions. It is a literary must-have. YA or Erotica, Horror or Romance.  It is the thing that can pry anyone out of bed or make them burrow inside the mattress.

One sweet kiss.

Okay, you got me. I’m a little dense. It took a while longer, but I finally understood what my master meant. Eventually, I stopped bringing all the destructive-angst on to the strip. I stopped trying to out-manly men. I stopped pretending I was Inigo Montoya and welcomed being Buttercup.

I nailed that Big Brute bastard in three moves.

THAT was a memorable first kiss. As you go forth and battle the demons of your day, take with you the lasting lesson taught by a fencing master:

Stupidity should be painful. - Anonymous


  1. LOVE THIS! Great post.

  2. Okay, now I'm totally hung up on the image of you as Buttercup...

  3. I loved this post, KAK! I can see so many similarities between this and writing and my own hamhanded efforts in "manly" pursuits. Meh. Great, great post. Five stars, even!

  4. Hee hee! I loved fencing! Took classes everytime I could come up with the $$. Loved it because on the strip, women have some advantages - lower center of gravity to compensate for shorter reach, and usually, a lack of upper body strength that allows them to learn the subtly of the art while the guys are still trying to out power on another. But yeah. A hit, even if you're wearing hub caps, hurts like a SOB.

  5. Wow. I never took fencing but this makes me want to...and makes me wary of that wanting. :-D Delightful post. Love the final quote, too.

  6. Love fencing. Haven't done it for many years, but ow...that made me remember the feel of that epee right in the chest.

  7. Somewhere out there are pics of me as a Buttercup blonde...

    Soooo very happy I could bring to mind the distinct pain of getting nailed in the chest for you all. It is definitely one of those sports that highlights the differences in men and women and the advantages of those differences.

  8. Hahahaha! I loved this. :D

    I never fenced but I'd like to think I would have been okay at it...

  9. Love the life analogy inherent in this post. "Stupidity should be painful". Love it.