So, before I forget, I learned first hand some important things which, whilst falling under the category of 'bleeding obvious, you git', bear noting down if only as a permanent reminder to me.
I'm talking about the difference between being relaxed and tense, and the vast different it makes to one's performance.
Case in point: my Free Scholar's prize.
Half an hour before my bouts, I was warming up with a Journeyman whose lines of attack and defense were tight and controlled. I was fretting over whether my run of poor health and resultant lack of overall fitness were going to have a strong impact on my performance.
I got tense, and the warm-up seemed to go badly. It felt as if, with every step, I was wading through mud. My bladework was slow and my confidence falling. NOT how one wants to be right before they fight a prize.
I shared my concerns with some more experienced fencers and my sponsor for the match.
Their remedy: more warm-up bouts, but with an emphasis on 'fun' not 'finesse'.
It worked. I got laughing, and suddenly my feet were moving properly, my arms were responding, and my bladework picked up a notch. I was performing well again.
At that point I decided to forget 'focus on technique' and determined to focus on the 'fun', letting my training take care of the technical aspects of the fight.
It went well.
Several people who know me, if they read this, will roll their eyes and say 'I bloody told you this ages ago'. My thanks to them!
On a sidenote: I learned a bit about Joachim Meyer's approach to Rapier fencing (assimilated into the German tradition of swordsmanship) and I liked what I saw.