He gave a little spiel about the Army (to a club at a school which regularly pickets the local Army recruiting post), then we did footwork, and then the fun began. The Army guys set up their top-of-the-line electric strip, the Army World Class Athlete hooked up, the club gathered round, Coach Mike smiled, and said, "Okay, who wants to be the first to fence him?"
I'm not shy. I stepped right up and plugged in Andúril (my épée), feeling vaguely suicidal. I'm just a little Pony, and this guy is a six-foot potential Olympian. I decided that my goal for that bout would be to score one touch, just so I wouldn't have the humiliation of being whupped 5 - 0. One touch, that was all I asked. Amazingly enough, Andúril's wiring still worked, and we were good to go. Mike was operating the box, and twenty fencers watched us.
Army Guy was tall, and he was sneaky, and he was fast. He scored four touches in the blink of an eye. Two of them I didn't even feel, he was that good. I was down 4 - 0. Then I scored my touch, the one touch I wanted. And then I scored another. And then I scored another. Three good clean touches in a row, boom boom boom, off the Olympic Army Guy. Then he scored, and the bout was over. He won, 5 - 3. But I scored three points off a U.S. Army World Class Athlete! And in front of an audience, too. I felt like a million bucks.
He stayed for the rest of practice, and I got to fence a little more with him, informally. Fencing someone who's that good is an amazing experience, and I learned more from it than I've learned in a single day in a long time.