ICEMAN VS. MAVERICK CONUNDRUM
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what type of fencer you’ll become. The teacher can only lay the foundation and (with hope), inspire the student to not only embrace the art, but continue, enjoy, and strive to improve in skill.
Most fencers today (in my opinion) see fencing as a quest to score a touch, at whatever cost. In the bigger picture, they want to win the bout, and even bigger yet, become a champion. But there are champions, masters and master-champions. The difference is in those with the genetic advantage, athleticism, and motivation to succeed (champion). A master consistently refines himself, and is often considered a “technician and tactician” of the artform. A master-champion is both of these; proves himself/herself time-and-time-again through competition and shows great sportsmanship in both winning and defeat.
Many fencers will simply choose which one they wish to be, whether consciously or subconsciously. Others will only become fencers (through the dent of work & play). The rest will be bad fencers.
Aldo Nadi (possibly the greatest fencer who has ever lived) said,
“Every fencer must have within himself/herself a touch of the gambler.”
The movie Top Gun we had two fighter-pilot rivals played by Val Kilmer (call sign: Iceman) and Tom Cruise (call sign: Maverick). In this movie, Iceman is said to fly, “…Ice cold. No mistakes. He wears you down, you get bored, frustrated, do something stupid and he’s got ya. (Goose)” Maverick at one point says to his flight instructor (regarding combat and instincts), “You don’t have time to think up there. If you think, you’re dead.”
These are two different men, with two different styles. Obviously the popular and lead role is Maverick, so you grow to like his “fly by the seat of your pants” – rebel ways.
Although the act of thinking requires energy and time, the masterful fencer, thinks… he’s always thinking. In most cases, your opponent will have talents beyond yours (at least in some area). Finding weakness, openings, breaks in timing and (most importantly) understanding and utilizing your (physical and mental) abilities in the arena of sport is what leads to masterful champions.
One may think that Iceman represents the “Old School” ways and Maverick “The Modern,” but this isn’t “exactly” the case or analogy being made. As Maverick may have a certain level of “genius” and of “danger”, he “puts himself out there” and fights with passion – something all fencers can and should use.
However, it is most wise to consider the “Old School/Classical” ways to exercise the proper form, technique and training methods that (highly) reduce the element of danger.
In reality, if your life was on the line, who would you want as a wing-man?
Iceman or Maverick?
and importantly to your growth as a fencer, “What type of fencer to you want to become?”
TOP GUN (1986) – Rated PG. Directed by Tony Scott. Paramount Pictures