You'll remember back a month or so ago I posted about how I finally made it to a fencing salle here in Budapest. It's the Honved Fencing Club and it's a few stops on the metro away from the center of the city. The club is held in an old synagogue which is incredibly beautiful on the inside. The old mosaic tiles are still on all the walls and I am constantly in awe of the architecture and art of the building each time I enter.
Oh and it's cheap, which is good with my student stipend. It cost roughly $50 a month which allows you to fence any day of the week you choose to come. My private lessons are about $10 for roughly twenty minute lessons, however some particularly good lessons combined with the fact that I'm usually his last student on Thursdays means that I've had lessons run close to an hour (yes, to answer the question running around your minds, I pretty much feel like death at the end of those lessons). Hours sound around 5-7pm Monday-Friday. I try to make it at least twice a week, but some weeks I get there three times and some weeks I've been lucky to make it once.
It's only a foil and epee club, so for me it's a little strange to not have all three weapons flailing around me when I walk around. The other strange thing I've noticed is that the sound of a club is different without the sounds of saber in the air. It sounds silly, but try being at a club where one weapon isn't represented, it sounds strange.
And it's absolutely unheard of to fence the weapon other than your own, even for fun. So my meager foil game is probably getting pretty rusty. Oh well. Glad I left my foil and sabre equipment at home then. (I'm going to have to bring everything home with me anyways, it all needs repairing so bad. I have all the stuff to do it here except a tiny screwdriver I have no idea where mine ran off to - and I can't find anyone anywhere.). I'll hopefully be fencing at the SFC Holiday Open and the Hangover Open as well while I'm home.
As far as a fencing facility is concerned, it's amazing. It's three levels - the first floor is primarily for foil, the third floor for epee and the second floor (which is kind of a mezzanine/half-floor) has a few strips and is also used for private lessons. The epee level has 8 working strips with lights on both ends so that both fencers can see and the wires are hid under the floors. The floor is mostly metal strips, but not all parts of the strip are grounded (grounded, for you non-fencers out there, meaning that if you hit the floor the light won't go off saying you've hit your opponent).
And as for the fencing - no knock to my NH or NC fencing families, but this is hands down the best fencing I've had in my life. And especially the best fencing I've had over the past 3-4 years. It's just a completely different world here. I train with members of the Hungarian National team and people vying for spots on it as well. I train with people who love the sport the way I used to love the sport. Which is making me love my sport again. There is no greater feeling for me right now than to walk into the gym and not feel like I'm about to have a panic attack.
I've had to prove myself too, which has been a new and wonderful experience for me. They're used to having foreigners come for a week or two to train on vacation, but they don't often get people for longer. So I've had to show them that I know what I'm doing and I mean business. Meaning I've had to beat up on some of the less good fencers to get the better ones to fence with me. It's paid off.
Like tonight. Tonight was the best night of fencing in my life over the past 4 years. Seriously. I ache and walk with a little limp because my feet and knees hurt. I'm bruised up, I have a slice on my shin, and a huge bruise on my back (left) arm because some guy I was fencing got frustrated that I was beating him and redoubled with something that looked (and felt) like a punch. I fenced some of the guys on the national team, and you could tell that they expected to walk all over me - and while the end scores (3-10, 4-10) make it seem like they did, they did not. I frustrated the heck out of them. I might not have been making my light go off as often as I would have liked, but they weren't hitting me either. Those bouts lasted close to 15 minutes (straight) each. And that's quite a lot for 10 touches!
I can't wait to fence some in NH and NC again with my old fencing buddies (and get some foil and sabre in too!), but I am going to miss this club while I'm away.