BASIC FENCING LESSONS FOR
"Fencing is the most physically demanding game in the world and the most intellectually demanding sport in the world."
Fencing is the art of hitting people with the sharp end of your sword. It may be a little intimidating and hard to understand at first. But it is really a very simple sport once you get the feel of it. Hit your opponent to score points. Don't let him hit you! Have funâ€Ś.. Not many people can stab a total stranger with a sword and get rewarded for it. But fear not, it is the greatest sport known to man.
FORWARD Fencing is a sport of perception and intuition as well as one of technique. This manual explores the basic needs and preparations to be a good fencer. It is nowhere near a comprehensive technical manual, only the basic fundamentals are covered. Fencing is essentially an “open” skill, where the perfection of technique can be seen as a mean to an end – to defeat an opponent. The purpose of this manual is not to teach you how to plan your game but is to help you understand the relationship between basic technique and intuition. You must than develop your own individual game in the light of this understanding. Some fencers succeed because of excellent technique, but others who possess high intuitive perception and fine sense of pace and distance can also succeed without a high technical standard.
MR LIM PENG JIN BCN, PJK FEDERATION INTERNATIONEAL D’ESCRIME (FIE) LEVEL 1 COACHING CERTIFICATE (ISSUED BY AUSTRALIAN FENCING FEDERATION 2003) HON. SECRETARY – PENANG FENCING ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – MALAYSIAN FENCING FEDERATION MEMBER – AUSTRALIAN FENCING FEDERATION STATE COACH – PENANG SPORTS COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT COACH – NATIONAL SPORTS COUNCIL OF MALAYSIA
Right of Way
Truisms of Fencing
Some Common Terms (English/French) Used
Standard Fencing Kit (Equipments)
Lesson 1: BASIC FOOTWORK Fencing begins with movement. Movement is about balance and speed. You need more than just speed to be a good fencer. You need balance to control your speed. Without balance your speed can easily be used against you. To maintain balance you should practice your footwork every day. After your skill with the blade becomes acceptable, you will still need to focus a great deal of your training time on your footwork. You will never get enough footwork. Get used to that idea. You will never reach the point when your footwork is good enough. Proper footwork is the difference between having the correct distance and timing to make a hard point look easy, and having the wrong distance and timing and making an easy point look hard.
Smaller, more controlled steps = bigger, more powerful lunges! Your "on guard" stance may seem odd at first, but simply keeping the knees bent and the weight on the balls of your feet should be the most natural thing for any athlete. Basketball players, baseball players, tennis players, football players all have an "on guard" stance that is similar if not identical to that of fencers. Knees bent body upright but slightly forward. Anyone who needs to move suddenly in any direction should be "on guard." Get comfortable in your on guard stance and you will quickly see the payoff.
"Getting a proper foundation in footwork early is critical to your long-term fencing success." [LPJ/2007]
Never fence sideways. Fencers of old appeared to stand with their hips facing across the strip to hide their target area from their opponent's view. With the advent of the flick this theory became obsolete. Your opponent is just as likely to score on your back or side as he is on your front. (This is truer for men than for women, but true for both.) Human legs are designed to bear our weight and move us in certain ways. The most efficient of these is forward. Our hips are capable of carrying us along sideways, but the limited speed and agility we can achieve in this position is nothing compared to our power when moving forward and backward. While moving our target area is a valuable option, we can achieve this even more effectively by facing the opponent, and turning quickly in response to an overcommitted attack. In this way we do not inhibit our mobility by trying to move around the strip with hips turned out at unnatural angles.
En Guard Shoulders and hips face more toward opponent, increasing range of motion and power.
Never allow your back foot to point any further than 90 degrees away from your opponent. Hungarian as well as many other schools of fencing is now teaching their students to place their rear foot pointing inward as much as 45 degrees. This facilitates todayâ€™s faster, more athletic game. The weight still shifts to the heel for increased power during the lunge so in the moment of the lunge, the rear foot faces straight across the strip. Thus not affecting the fencerâ€™s ability to recover [LPJ/2007]
Advancing and retreating: Move your forward foot first when you want to move forward. Keep it close to the ground and minimize the time that your foot is in the air. While your foot is in the air, you are off balance and vulnerable. Make your advances and retreats take as little time as possible, even if this means taking shorter steps. A common mistake is taking steps that are too large. While this does serve to get you closer to your opponent, this is often a bad thing. A large step takes a long time, your opponent has ample time to see you coming and when you finally put your foot down, you will be the victim of his fast attack.
A small step plus a lunge will get you as far or farther than a large step plus a lunge. But without the risk. Basic terminology: On Guard: (aka "en garde") Is the ready position. It is a position from which a fencer can attack or defend with minimum delay. In fencing, keep your knees bent and at proper spacing. Keep you hand in front of you with the elbow bent. The point of your sword is threatening your opponent and your legs ready to lunge or retreat. Advance: Lifting your forward most foot slightly off the ground move it forward an appropriate distance (usually less than 12 inches) before setting it down, heel first, then immediately and always immediately following with the rear foot. Retreat: Lift the rear foot slightly reach back an appropriate distance, then immediately follow suit with the forward foot. With advance and retreat, remember smaller steps are better in almost all cases. The benefits of taking small steps on most occasions far outweigh the occasional success of taking larger, more powerful steps. The larger the step, the more time your spend off-balance. Lunge: Quickly extend both the weapon bearing arm and the forward leg. Immediately after this extension has begun extend the rear arm and leg simultaneously propelling you forward. Land with the forward heel and then bend the forward leg to absorb the force of movement. The point should be scored before the forward heel touches the ground.
Recovery: Immediately after executing a lunge always recover either forward, backward or neutrally. Never remain in a lunge position for any amount of time. Backward recovery: Simultaneously bend the rear leg and straighten the front leg, this should be used in almost all cases until your opponent's reaction has been carefully gauged, as a forward recovery is considered a remise of action and so is a calculated risk. Forward recovery: with arm still extended quickly pull the rear foot forward into a slightly crouched on guard position. Parry One of eight defensive actions with the blade. Striking your opponent's attacking blade aside and out of the line it threatened with your own blade. The rear foot should be slightly off the ground during the parry as part of the retreat, if the parry is deceived, you can still extend you retreat and avoid getting hit. Riposte: Immediately after executing a parry, extend with the intent to hit the opponent's target. Circular parry: A more powerful, yet more time consuming method of parrying. Ignoring the shortest path to the blade by rotating your blade around to strike it from the other side. Flying parry: or 'grazing parry', pulling your blade back toward your body while striking, or taking your opponent's blade. Prise d' fer: French for 'take the steel.' ('Prise d' lame' translates to 'take the blade') It refers to any number of different ways of taking the blade other than a simple beat or parry. Either under the dictates of right of way where any uncontested striking of the blade gains one the right to attack, or under more practical situations where both fencers press for control of the blades but one "takes" it through leverage or superior physical strength. Flick: Using the flexibility of the blade and a snap of the wrist to hit targets not accessible with a straight blade. (usually to the back). Cross-over advance: The method of advancing is by bringing your rear foot past your front foot during attack to increase speed and distance. It is illegal to make any forward crossover actions when fencing sabre. Cross-over retreats however, are legal. Balestra, or hop-lunge: A preparatory action that builds an attacking fencers momentum prior to his lunge. Throw the front foot out while making a small hop. Pull the front foot back sharply and the rear foot and the entire body are brought up near the front foot. While the distance to the opponent is unchanged, the attacking fencer has an improved position resulting in a longer, faster lunge. Much like the way a long-jumper shortens his steps as he approaches the jump, converting his vertical momentum into horizontal energy.
Lesson 2: LUNGING Lunging is the action that scores points. When all is said and done, when all the strategy has been played and your opponent has been fooled and the opening is there for you to hit, you still have lunge and lunge well to score. The quality of your lunge determines your opponent's reaction to your attacks, which determines the effectiveness of your strategy. The importance of your lunge cannot be stressed enough. Nor can the importance of practicing your lunge. Fencers often lose control of their energy and move their bodies before their hands. This will occasionally cause the referee to call you in preparation; it will more often cause you to miss an otherwise hittable attack. Train yourself to lead with your hand. If your point precedes your hand, and your hand precedes your lunge, you will rarely miss. You will have to recover a lot after being parried, but if you can recover promptly, you will not be scored on. Remember: The right hand and foot move as one, then the left hand and foot. (for right-hander) All four limbs should extend fully for maximum distance. Extending your rear arm, up and away, pushes you toward your opponent as well as toward the floor, improving your recovery time. Extending your forward leg not only increases the distance traveled by reaching, the weight of your forward leg holds you down. This enabling you to add even more power to your lunge without lifting your head and hand up or "stalling".
You do not score touches with your arm. Your arm is extended and its job done long before you score the touch. You score touches with the strength of your rear leg.
Care and feeding of the lunging muscles. Will your lunge be a thing to be feared by your opponents or by you? Specialized exercises will take lunging from your most dreaded chore, to your favorite past time. Give yourself a number of lunges to do each day. Start low, ten or so depending on your ambition. Just be sure to beat that number by at least one each day. If you can really push yourself and keep raising the bar, by just one little lunge per day, you will have all the work you need for a while. Lunging alone is great exercise, but after a certain point, you will want to increase your power even further. To do this you will need to work with added resistance to each part of your lunge.
Components of your lunge: Quadriceps: The rear quad' is the workhorse of your lunge. Technique can be good or bad but unless you have the strength needed within your rear quad; your lunge will not be effective. Squats and leg extensions are the most commonly used way to strengthen theses muscles. Standing knee bends for beginners. Calves: Your calves are more important for setting up a lunge and recovering from it. When the time comes to lunge, both your heels should be down and so your calf muscles are out of the game. They are critical to recovery however, so don't spare the reps when you are doing simple calf raises on a step or when you are working the muscle that opposes the calves, the anterior tibialis. Anterior tibialis: The often overlooked muscle on the front of the shin area is the one that pulls you back from a lunge. It also catches your weight when you land. Stand on a small step facing downstairs with your feet 75% off the step. Stretch your toes down as far as they will go and then bring them up as high as you can. High reps with no weight other than your own big butt, and you will start to respect what these muscles do for you. Hamstrings: These govern your speed when running and your recovery when lunging. Leg curls are the best way, but make sure you spend extra time stretching these muscles out. Gluteus: Deep squats and lots of stretching. The gluts are the powerhouse, they are what hold your thighs in place when your quads dig in and lunge. If you want to move fast, work your gluts.
Lesson 3: PARRYING Suppurated parries. (Basic fundamental parries) All of these parries should be done with minimal elbow movement and point movement. The fencerâ€™s fingers should be up throughout these actions. The point may be slightly above or below target area during the action.
Parry six (Sixte) The six is a very small area and this parry must be small. Keep the elbow very still when performing a six parry. Rotate the wrist out less than six inches and keep the point in.
Parry four (Quarte)
Do not let the point fly out beyond the target during a four parry. The four is the most commonly used and misused parry. Most errors lay in swingining the tip out to swat away the blade. When executing a beat attack, use the tip, when executing a parry use the blade and keep the tip on or near target.
Parry eight (Septime) EIGHT: The smallest parry there is. Fencers who use this effectively barely move their hands. The point should be pointed right at the opponent's target. When it is done correctly it is the quickest riposte you can do. So fast it is often confused with an opposition counter-attack
Parry seven (Octave)
SEVEN: Rarely used because most fencers attempt a "pris d' fir" in this line. It is most often used as a "contradiction parry" a form of pris d' fir where a small foible beat is made on an attacking fencer before the beginning of his final movement. If one is close enough to take the blade in the seven, the riposte is short enough that it almost never misses.
Every parry includes a step backwards.
What did I say? EVERY PARRY! Not most. Not "all but the ones you're sure about". EVERY single defensive action for the rest of your life will include a step back.
Parrying and blocking. Parrying is the method of deflecting a point attack. Blocking is the method of deflecting a cutting or flick attack. The difference is obvious but most instructors and textbooks prefer to use the terms interchangeably. They are wrong. Parrying is done while moving your blade. Blocking is done with the hand and blade held relatively still.
There are advantages and disadvantage to each.
Parry three (Tierce) Parry three defends a very small piece of target area. A commonly used sabre parry, the three or tierce, is rarely seen in foil or epee so can be used to your advantage once you have mastered it. It defends a very specific threat (a cut, or flick) to a very specific line (the back or back of the arm.) When done properly it can put you in position for to deliver a quick and powerful riposte.
Parry five (Quinte)
Parry five is the most commonly misused parry. When fencers swing too hard at the four, they think they have invented the five. Like other pronated parries, it defends well against cutting or flicking actions, but is weak on the riposte unless the fencer using it has excellent distance and not a little power. This is well used against lefties trying to flick right-handers chests and vice-versa.
Parry two (Seconde) The two or seconde parry is powerful and can knock a fencer attacking in the low line off balance if you take enough blade. The riposte has a long distance to travel but if used sparingly, your opponent will not have recovered in time. Another advantage of the two is that it has so many options of which line to riposte to, there can be no conditioned response to it. Fencers must roll the dice and parry where they think you will riposte or they will be too late.
Parry one (Prime)
The first parry (usually called the Prime) is a very useful tool. It has weaknesses: if used too often it can become an easy target, since it opens up a large piece of lame. It must be used in conjunction with a step forward and to the right. It is almost more of a counter-attack than a parry, since you step into the attackers distance at the same time as you take the blade. For this reason it is risky, but once you are comfortable with it, you will find it a great way to take advantage of over-exuberant attackers.
Lesson 4: RIGHT OF WAY "The one good thing about point-in-line is it gives you a good excuse for losing."
BOTH OF THESE FENCERS THINK THEY HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY. ONE ATTACKED, THE OTHER USED POINT-IN-LINE. WHO ARE YOU BETTING ON?
Right of way in foil or sabre is far simpler than any of us make it out to be. The more you discuss and debate the finer points of right of way, the farther you get from the truth. Learn the rules of right of way, and that is all. A good fencer will know when he is trying to score, and when he is trying to force an opening that isn't there. That is all the right of way you need learn unless you intend to be a referee. If you retreat in reaction to preparation, then it isn't preparation, it is an attack. Once you have done this, do not look to the referee to overrule your decision. If you think your opponent is attacking, and react accordingly, why shouldn't the referee think so too? [LPJ/2007]
Right of way is not community property. It belongs, lock, stock and barrel to the attacker. It must be wrested away through great effort and great risk by the defender before control changes hands. There are some actions that referee's disagree on. Like the strike zone in baseball, right of way can vary slightly depending on which referee you have. These differences will only affect actions that are very close to the line. A wise fencer avoids these actions until he has a feel for the limits of his referee's "strike zone". If a referee calls something against you but that you disagree. He must have a reason. His point of view is different and in most cases better than yours. Trying to change a referee's mind/decision while losing a bout is foolish. Win the bout, and he will listen to your ideas with some respect. Lose the bout, and anything you have to say to him will fall on deaf ears. You must understand his point of view, his reasons for the call he made, if you are to succeed in scoring, winning the bout, or educating the referee.
Point-in-line: There is a purpose to point-in-line. When an attack starts from far enough out, it can maintain right of way, under certain circumstances for more than the length of the strip. For this reason the "framers" of right of way created point-in-line. Since then it has gotten way out of hand. Modern fencers sometimes argue that it has precedence over all attacks beyond one step. Others argue that it has no place in todayâ€™s game whatsoever. They are both wrong, if you want to be a referee then you will need an opinion on this, if you want to be a good fencer, and then avoid point in line when it matters. Mistakes will be made when point in line is used. Sometimes the mistake will be yours, sometimes the mistake will be the referee's and rarely your opponent will make a mistake. Most of these mistakes will result in the call going against the point in line. To foilists: If you intend to comate on todayâ€™s field, use the point-in-line sparingly and be prepared for your touch to be given away. To sabrists: The point-in-line is just as valuable as any other attack, but like any other attack, you have to have control of distance before you can score with it. It is more useful as a strategic ploy than as an actual weapon. Put it out, if they bite, attack into prep. [LPJ/2007]
Simultaneous actions: A point-in-line cannot ever be simultaneous with an attack. The line has no presence until it is established, if it has been established for more that one tempo it has right of way without question. If it has not been established for a full tempo before the attack lands it does not have right of way. If this cannot be determined the call should be "The action is unclear." Referee's without much confidence use the term "simultaneous" when they don't know what the action is. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." If the Ref' doesn't know what the action is, in many cases the action was not properly done. It is the responsibility of the fencers to make actions that are clearly theirs. Otherwise they risk winning or losing the bout at the whim of a Referee.
Lesson 5: STRATEGY All strategy depends on your lunge. If your lunge causes your opponent to really react, you will have the freedom to disengage anytime. Practice your lunge and recovery every day. It is more important than any other aspect of fencing, more than blade work, more than footwork. The lunge is the vehicle of all fencing actions. If your lunge is powerful, the game of fencing will open itself up to you. Strategy is how fencers adjust our actions to force your opponent into a game that favors you. If your opponent is better at attacking than defending, attack him and force him to defend. If he is better at running and flicking than he is at straight attacks, try keeping your guard outside or high, forcing him to concede that part of your lame' and try to hit with straight actions. And try to limit how hard you chase him and how far you will run. If you won't run then he can't either. The key of course is to first identify the action that is giving you trouble. Once this is done you should be able to adjust your action or reaction and determine a better course for the bout to follow.
In order to determine what adjustments need to be made during the course of the bout, first define the problem in the following terms: Location: At each stage of the action (initial threat, where? reaction, where? finish, where?) Intensity: Can the initial threat hit? Am I parrying too large/fast/hard? Action: Use terms like attack, lunge, adv. lunge. To describe tempo. This will clarify the tempo of your responses [LPJ/2007]
Location Break the action down by stages; Initial threat? Pulled back or disrobed? Were there more threats? Where? Where did the final lunge hit? Where were you at that time? Four: anything above your bell guard, and inside your bell guard. Six: above and outside Seven: below and inside Eight: below and outside. Back: a hit on the back with extreme angulations or by flicking. Back-while-squirming: a hit you couldn't parry because of incorrect en guard
position. Intensity Was the attack fast, slow, tight against the hand? Or wide? Did I react correctly? Too hard? Too small? Too soon? Am I over-reacting? Over-compensating? Sometimes threats seem worse than they are. Make your opponent prove his threat. Don't react as though everything your opponent throws at you will hit.
Action Lunge Advance-lunge Double advance-lunge Balestra / hop-lunge Extension / thrust Feint / feign Fleche Clarify the means they used to catch you and you will know what you need to do to avoid / evade them next time. Using the correct term will inform you of the correct tempo associated with the action. When you find yourself facing an opponent that is able to defeat you no matter how hard you fence. Fence smarter, not harder. Force your opponent to engage the action that favors you. Force him, entice him, coerce or cajole your opponent into an action that allows you a better opportunity than it does him. [LPJ/2007]
Your opponent makes a feint to your six, and then hits your eight with a simple lunge. ” HIT!” (against you) Ready …. Fence He comes forward again, feint to six. "What do you do?" Many fencers get too caught up in their own little tactical. They get a little too creative and over-estimate their opponent. When this happens you will find yourself getting hit with the stupidest counter-attacks you've ever seen. When this happens your opponent is not really counter-attacking. He may be trying to parry-riposte, or attack into prep, or even stop-hit. ANY of these things end up being a counter-attack when you come barging in with no regard for your opponent's reaction. Keep it simple, stupid. Remember, your opponent can only do what you tell him to do. Make your feint small and clear. If you show your opponent an attack to the four, he will try to parry four. If you show him something vaguely in the four areas, he may close his eyes and jump sideways for all you know. A proper disengage attack requires a properly executed parry. If your opponent does not react properly, your attack will miss. ALWAYS start from square one. Test your opponent's reactions with careful forays into his defense. Get in far enough to see him react, and get out before he has a chance to hit you. If you do this with your eyes open you will see what his favorite reaction is. Once you know what your opponent does when startled, you can plan your attack. Startle him, and then disengage the parry you expect him to take, and hit him.
All strategy depends on your lunge. If your lunge causes your opponent to really react, you will have the freedom to disengage anytime. Practice your lunge and recovery every day. It is more important than any other aspect of fencing, more than blade work, more than footwork. The lunge is the vehicle of all fencing actions. If your lunge is powerful, the game of fencing will open itself up to you.
Lesson 6 DEFENSE Defense is a weakness for many fencers. One of the problems that might keep you from being comfortable and effective on defense is your mindset. Don't think of defense as avoiding getting hit. Defense is drawing your opponent in so you can hit him. Dare your opponent to come and take his best shot.
One huge problem I see in defense is fencers reaching and leaning and searching to defend a barely perceived threat. If nothing else you will learn more by getting hit in a balanced position with your eyes open, than you will by getting hit while swinging wildly with your eyes closed. The purpose of feint attacks is to draw your opponent's guard position away from the center. The smaller and more controlled your reaction to each feint, the harder your opponent will find hitting you. Keep your parries small and your opponent will have to hit you with a decent attack. These are more easily parried. React like a man being attacked by killer bees and the openings are too many to count.
Splitting the offense When threatened with a large attack and you are out of distance or off balanced for an attack-into-preparation, you are often overwhelmed. Here is one way to gain some time and space to successfully defend yourself. A forward guard position with the point threatening and the elbow bent can limit the opponent and force him to choose between the defender's choices of lines. When you are being chased backwards down the strip the first thing you must do is match speed to maintain distance. Once you have done this you can take control of the speed by maintaining a solid guard position and slowing the pace. Your opponent will not want to finish unless you are off balance so he will slow down with you and try to feint an attack to move your guard position. If you can keep yourself from swinging at his first pitch, he will either back off or allow you to attack him, or he will finish. If he finishes against a balanced defender he should be quickly punished by a parry[LPJ/2007]
riposte. The best way to accomplish this is to have some idea where he intends to finish. If you can threaten him while defending, he will be cautious and tentative in his attack. Threaten him with point in line as well as a hard, fast attack into prep. A tentative attacker is usually an easy target. If you sense hesitation in him, Attack! Whether he is in preparation or not, he will usually find a way to miss. By keeping your point out, you force your opponent to decide between a simple attack (trusting his speed) and a compound attack (trusting your reaction) his decision will be more obvious the more often you force him to decide. By moving your point to his blade, you force him to decide which side of the blade he will attack on. He will find his attack limited from the entire spectrum of actions in his arsenal, to a simple choice of seven, eight, or the unwise flick over the top of an extended arm. Once this has been established, the defenders choices are easy; in eight, you can parry eight or second or prise d' fer. In seven you have the same choices; parry seven, prime parry or prise d' fer. You can also hurry the attacker whenever he gets too close by beating his blade. This will lead him to pull his blade out of line and opening the door for a good counter-attack.
Lesson 7 Disengage
Disengage: To evade a parry by changing your line of attack. One of the biggest misconceptions about the disengage is that it is over before you hit your opponent. Ideally it is completed just as you make contact with the lame'. The disengage is not a two dimensional half-circle or even a "V" shape. The disengage, when properly done, is a three dimensional shape. A corkscrew or spiral that starts in the line threatened, then moves around the opponent's blade or hand as it moves toward the lame'. Beginning fencers often focus on the "changing lines" part of the action and forget the critical "hitting" part! Disengage should have only one part. From the moment your opponent takes the bait and starts his movement toward your blade, you must make no pause in your action. Move your point forward and around your opponent's parry as you extend and begin your lunge. If you find yourself finishing your 'half-circle', and staring at an opening that you haven't yet hit, you are doing it terribly wrong.
Disengages start at the parry, or at the feint, and end at the lame'. Your feint (which always proceeds a disengage even if you don't mean to) should be in a clear line. Remember to treat your opponent as if he was stupid. This not only helps your ego, it will keep you from making that fatal mistake, assumption. If you assume your opponent is quick, you will aim where he is about to be and then be upset when he doesn't quite make it in time to be hit. If you assume he will parry your perfectly valid threat, he may not, and you will be busy disengaging nothing while he counter-attacks. You must lead your unfortunate opponent carefully down the path you want him to take. Show him where you want him to parry by clearly presenting your blade. If you present your blade in the four then he will parry four. If you present your blade in kinda-sorta the four only lower and half extended and too close to his hand, where will he parry? Counter-four? Counter-six? Nine? In order to do a precise disengage, you need a precise parry. You need your opponent's cooperation to do the really sublime actions like disengage attacks. [LPJ/2007]
How do I get my opponent to fall for a disengage? First you must gain his respect. A fencer has many degrees of parry. He beats lightly at a blade that is close enough to annoy him but not a real threat. These beats are far too fast to disengage and even if you could, nothing is to be gained since no real opening is created. He parries with his foible when a feint is close but his real defense is his feet. A quick retreat and then an aggressive action of his own to correct distance. An opening is created here but not a direct one. Against an advanced fencer it is sometimes necessary to disengage this type of parry to get them to commit to the next type of parry. The "truly worried parry." When an attack has a real chance of hitting, fencers will take it seriously. They will put some effort into their parry and focus their attention on it. When they are thinking about parrying, they are not thinking about the possibility of a disengage. So you disengage. If you can make your opponent believe in your ability and willingness to hit with a straight attack, he will react. Only then can you determine how and where he will react, and disengage accordingly. The best way to do this is setting up a pattern, and drawing a reaction.
Setting up a pattern. Everything you do is not a surprise attack. Quite the contrary, most of your fencing bouts are in the club where everyone will soon know you back to front. Spend some time setting up a small pattern. Lunge and hit the six, then recover. If you get a point, fine, but your focus should be not on hitting, but on making the action and recovering without getting hit. Do it again. Be careful to make the action simple, fast, and exactly like the first one. When you do it the third time, your opponent, might have caught on and is probably ready to parry six with all his might. That is when you disengage. Slip your point into the eight and your opponent will be too busy swinging at the simple attack he was expecting to see you change lines.
Lesson 8: FLICKS
People should not try to flick until they have practiced more fundamental fencing actions for at least two years or have reached a "D" rating or higher. Practicing advanced actions will teach you bad habits. The more success you have with it, the worse your habits will be. Make sure your good habits are well in place before you tackle the flick. "Flicking" or "Whipping" What is it? In ancient times when the occurrence of a swordfight wasn't too rare, gentlemen trained at a game called foil with the express purpose of learning to duel. In other words, to learn how to survive these occasional swordfights by killing their worthy opponent. To facilitate the training of these men, it was necessary to practice with flexible steel weapons. The blades acted like light swords but when the fatal thrust was delivered the blade would bend rather than penetrate. The action on the part of the victor was almost identical to that of running a sharp weapon through the vitals of an enemy, and so it was proper training. As civilization progressed and the duel was outlawed the need to learn to swordfight was replaced by the desire to simply play foil for its own sake. Since it was a game, there was a simple object; to hit the opponent with the point of the blade. It was not necessary to bend the blade and simulate thrusting through organs to score a point and a victory. Fencers soon realized that to score a point and win a medal one needed only to hit with the point in whatever manner possible. The flick is another method of hitting with the point of one's weapon without thrusting. If you simply swing your weapon laterally it will hit flat. Modern weapons have a tiny sensor in the tip that must be depressed before it can be called a hit. A flat hit will not depress this sensor anymore than hitting the side of your keyboard will depress the keys on top. When you flick, you stop the progress of your blade suddenly and allow the flexibility of the blade to swing the tip only forward. This brings the sensor around and allows it to hit as though thrusting. The flick is very useful for going around your opponent's defense. Like a jumpshot in basketball or an end run in football, when the defense closes the direct approach off, the attacker must simply take another approach, around or over. [LPJ/2007]
How to do the â€œFLICKâ€?
Though most common in foil, the flick is used in all three weapons. The most important thing to remember is that the weapon should be held loosely until the moment of the flick. It must be allowed to move freely in the hand to develop the momentum it needs to bend in upon itself. Relax the hand, and push it forward, above your opponent's lame if you intend to hit the back or shoulder. Sharply close the hand and pull the grip down without interrupting the forward movement of the hand. As the tip moves down toward the lame', push the hand into the target to ensure that the tip hits point first and scores. There are many different ways to flick, and many different ways to learn each way. The best advice I can offer you is to exercise your hand a lot. When you can hold your hand still while flexing your weapon in mid air, then you can begin to flick. If you can hold your hand out in front of you with your fingers open, then using only your fingers bring the blade down and sharply stop it, making it flick severely, then start trying to do so while moving. Once you can do it while moving, without lifting your hand or throwing your point backwards to gain momentum, without lifting your hand in preparation, and without hitting with anything but the point. Then you are flicking.
People should not try to flick until they have practiced more fundamental fencing actions for at least two years or have reached a "D" rating or higher. Practicing advanced actions will teach you bad habits. The more success you have with it, the worse your habits will be. Make sure your good habits are well in place before you tackle the flick.
Lesson 9: FOIL REPAIR
Every fencer should know how to troubleshoot / repair his/her weapon. 99% of all foil problems come from improper wiring. White light goes off when you beat the blade? Learn to wire foils. Wire pops out of the blade and gets cut? Learn to wire foils. Can't score touches at all? Learn to wire foils without grounding them,
12 STEPS TO OVERCOME IMPROPER WIRING.
1st Clean out the blade grove. Avoid using acetone, it leaves a residue that most glues don't stick to well. Use an old screwdriver or any piece of metal that will do the job. If you used crazy glue, acetone is the only way to get off large amounts of it, just one of the reason that I avoid crazy glue AND acetone. Scrap the glue out from every possible angle until you hear an annoying screeching sound.
2nd Prep the wire. Carefully remove any kinks by running it through your fingers. These kinks will push the wire out of the groove while the glue is drying. 3rd Glue the threads. Placing a little glue on the threads before applying the barrel makes a big difference in how long the barrel stays in place. Just a drop on the threads and another on the first inch of the blade.
4th With the wire most of the way through the barrel and wet glue on the threads, carefully thread the barrel onto the blade. Make sure the wire doesn't get cut by the threads by holding the wire down in the groove with your thumb. Tighten the barrel finger tight before getting out any tools. 5th Most important. Tighten the barrel. Place the blade in a vice when possible or use a second pair of pliers or vice grips to hold the blade while you turn the barrel. You may have to learn the hard way how tight is too tight. Until you've broken a few barrels, you are probably not tightening them enough. 6th After it is tightened (and it had better be) pull the wire down until the contact touches the barrel. Then use a seating tool to push the contact and cup down to the bottom of the barrel. Gently pull the wire along at the same speed the cup goes down so that the wire doesn't get bunched up behind the contact. 7th Carefully straighten the wire again by running it through your fingers. Do not put too much pressure on the wire, they break easily. 8th Place the blade in a vice to hold it still while applying glue. Generously apply glue quickly to the length of the blade. Glue first, then the wire. 9th Using tape or a padded clip, attach the wire to the tang. The wire should be straight, but don't worry too much about how tight it is. That comes later. 10th Carefully guide the wire into the groove. Start at the point and work down.
11th Bend the blade and place it somewhere to dry. The bend pulls the wire down through the glue to the bottom of the groove. It should be bent into a space about 30". Most desks or tables are about that far from the floor. 12th After a few minutes, check the wire for pop-ups. There should be none, but if there are, you can nip them in the bud by pushing them carefully back into the groove. The glue is getting thicker so it will help hold them in place.
Truisms of Fencing
1. Never underestimate ANYONE!! 2. Never give up - even if you're down 14-0. 3. Have fun...not many people can stab a total stranger with a sword and get rewarded for it! 4. Don't let yourself get psyched out by a higher rated opponent; you never know when you're going to be hot. 5. Don't look at anything (even the scoring apparatus) when fencing other than your opponent. Stay FOCUS 6. Be gracious when you lose â€Ś. More importantly, be gracious when you win. 7. You may be big, tall and strong, but remember the power means nothing without control. 8. Finish the attack! 9. Retreat, don't just run away...there's a difference 10.
Don't stop until the director calls "halt!"
There is NO FRIEND ON THE PISTE
Do not get upset and lose your self control
Respect your opponent's skillâ€Ś.. Even though you do not like him
Show support to your salle mate. Encourage them by your cheers and not jeers. [LPJ/2007]
SOME COMMON TERMS USED
Advance (Marche) : Step forward with a fencer's front leg Attack (Attaque) : Movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point against his opponent. Beat (Battement) : Sharp tap on the opponent's blade to initiate attack or threat of attack. Counter Attack (Contre-attaque) : An attack made against the right-of-way, or in response to the opponent’s attack. Corps-a-Corps (Corps á Corps) : meaning “body –to-body”, physical contact between the two fencers during a bout. This is illegal in foil and sabre. Counter-parry (Contra-parade) : A defensive movement by which the fencer makes a small circle with the tip of the blade, around the opponent's blade and moves the opponent's blade away. Counter- Riposte ( Contre –riposte) : An attack that follows a parry of the opponent’s riposte. Disengage (Degagement) : A circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent's parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of engagement. (by moving the blade under the opponent’s bladed) Engagement (Engagement) : Contact of blades. eg. during a parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule' En garde (En Garde) : Position taken before a bout begins. Feint (Feinte) : A false attack intended to get a reaction from the opposing fencer which will open them up to a genuine attack. Fleche (Fleche) : meaning “arrow”. A running attack. Lunge (Fente): Most common attack in which the fencer closes the distance by moving the front leg forward while the back leg remains stationary and straightens out. Parry (Parade): Defensive action in which a fencer blocks his opponent's blade. Recover: Return to the en garde position after lunging. Remise (Remise): Attacking again immediately after the opponent's parry of an initial attack. Riposte (Riposte): Defender's counterattack after parrying an attack. [LPJ/2007]
STANDARD FENCING KIT – FOR TRAINING
1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Weapon Mask Glove Fencing Uniform Weapon Bag Chest Protector Lame (Electric Vest) Body Wire
Foil, Epee and/or Sabre 3-weapon mask comprises of jacket, inner plastron & breech for girls/women fencers
Foil Epee Mask
Chest Protector (for Girls/Women) Glove
Foil/Sabre Body Wire
Epee Body Wire
Foil Lame [LPJ/2007]
FENCING EQUIPMENTS â€“ FOR COMPETITIONS 1. Weapon
- minimum 2 pieces
2. Body Wire
- minimum 2 sets
- 1 piece
4. Mask Clip (for Sabre)
- minimum 2 pieces
5. Glove 6. Complete fencing uniform
- clean with permitted logo size
- clean and without holes
- minimum 2 sets (for Foil & Sabre)
9. Shoes 10. Chest Protector
- for girls/women fencers
11. Repair Kit
- Allen keys, precision screwdrivers, quick dry glue, pliers, cloth & insulation tapes, pen knife, sandpaper, gas lighter etc
12. First Aid Kit
- containing basic things for cuts and bruises.