View Full Version : overmovement

-1st March 2004, 08:39
i'm new to fencing -i think it's been 4 months now- and i'm loving it (who wouldn't :) ) . But i've been having a lot of trouble with keeping my movements as a whole under exaggerated (grammer?(spelling?)) everything i do just becomes too big and therefore takes too long. most of it is probably just lack of practice but after reading another thread on here i wondered if it was because i'm using a pistol grip? is it teaching me bad habits? should i change to french and does anyone have any advice on what to do?
ps i'm a leftie :grin:

-1st March 2004, 10:32
It just comes with practice. Try practicing very small circles, as small as you can in the air with your foil. Then try figure-eights. Then very small disengages in both directions. Try straightening your arm to hit something like a lunging pad or target of some kind. This should help your point control, it will improve over time :)

-1st March 2004, 10:45
don't worry its all to do with wrist strength and finger play ;)

when you start fencing its quite natural for most of the actions you try to come from the shoulder and arm hence the big slow movements. Practice moving the blade by just using your wrist and fingers and you'l find that your actions become far more tightly controlled and much faster as a result.

-1st March 2004, 11:26
I'm new myself (started Novemeber last year). When I bought my first foil I bought a pistol grip (I had previously been using a French Grip) and also found I was making big movements.

After a while practicing on lunging pads and practicing disengages etc. I found I was gripping too tightly so all of the movement was being forced to my wrist and arm. I think the shape of the grip makes it easier to grip too tightly (not a problem with the grip as such just how tightly I was holding it).

I found by slightly relaxing the grip of the last three fingers and just using the thumb and forefinger I was able to make the movements more easily and with smaller movements. (I practised this by 'bobbing' the blade up and down).

I suppose it all comes down to a quote I saw in a fencing book about holding a foil was like holding a bird; too soft and it will fly away, too tight and you will strangle it!

-1st March 2004, 12:57
When I was originally taught to fence (in the late middle ages) the prevailing view was that a fencer really shouldn't move on to using an orthopaedic grip until they'd got the hang of point control etc.

I think that the choice of grip depends on what your own goals & objectives are. My own observation is that there are real gains to be made from going orthopaedic in modern fencing terms:

- these days beats & parries are harder (often taken in pronated forms) which can lead to a fencer with a French grip being disarmed;

- it's a lot easier to deliver a flick hit from, say for example, high prime;

- fatigue erodes your control far more quickly with a French grip.

But I think that these are mainly short-term gains & that if you start on orthopaedic grips too soon it can limit your fencing style.

As to actual advice - difficult. Going French until you've mastered point control etc would be painful in the short-term & you may not enjoy your fencing as much. Sticking with the orthopaedic grip is going to make learning delicate play difficult but is likely to be a whole lot more fun.

Perhaps the best answer is to borrow a foil of each type and have a play & see what you prefer.

-1st March 2004, 15:00
Apparently the pistol grip helps develop the hand muscles that allow you to use the french grip properly so I would say use the pistol but remember it is what you feel most comfortable with.

I was finding that pistol grips kill my hand until a number of people here said i was holding it too tight.(thanx btw) Use your fingers not your wrist and practice, thats all i can say.

-1st March 2004, 15:09
Originally posted by Petch66
Apparently the pistol grip helps develop the hand muscles that allow you to use the french grip properly so I would say use the pistol but remember it is what you feel most comfortable with.

:transport To be honest, I think that's a myth. Pistol grips effectively allow you to hold the foil with your whole hand, while a French grip is manipulated with the thumb and forefinger, the rest of the hand is there only for stability (for example, I've never been able put my little finger on a French grip).

If you've learnt using a pistol grip, it'll be nigh on impossible to transfer to a French grip without a dip in your fencing performance (you just won't have the muscle tone in the hand).

-1st March 2004, 15:12
Thats very true!:rambo: I learned with a french grip and changed to pistol grip and found i much easier to use. But thats just me....:rolleyes:

-1st March 2004, 15:48
Bearing in mind how important the flick is in foil these days i'm not sure how effective using a french grip would be, as an epeeist I'm used to coming across alot of predominatly foreign fencers (especially the French) who fence with a 'french' grip, and they use it to increase the length of their attacks and can be very accurate with stop hits to wrist and arm where being as far away as possible while scoring the hit can be crucial.

At foil I daresay a french grip will be a hinderance as you will find it very hard to flick effectively and anybody with a fast sixth repost would pretty much have you beaten. But thats just my view and what do i know i'm an epeeist!

Pointy stick
-5th March 2004, 06:33
One exercise you can try to help you restrict the movement to your fingers is to sit at home in your comfy armchair, with your forearm and the side of your hand resting on the arm, and holding your foil. Now practise small circles with the foil tip, without moving your forearm or hand. Also, just practise lifting and dropping the tip. Whatever grip you are using, you will find that resting your forearm and hand against something will help you to focus your attention on the fingers.

-5th March 2004, 11:45
Hi Rusty,

It could be just a matter of practice as you say -- beginners using either french or pistol grips are likely to do wide & exagerated actions in any case.

But if you are using a pistol grip I wound second slimrbp's suggestion to relax the last three fingers (you can even tuck the last two under the grip) as a way to improve point control and manipulation. Also you should be holding the pistol grip mostly with the pads of the fingers rather than wrapping your hand and fingers fully around the grip with full contact. Specifically, there should be a hollow space between your palm and the grip.

Here are some quick technical points that will give you smaller, tighter and as you say -much faster- actions:

* Deceives
Do not circle around the parrying blade as this is bound to be a bigger action and likely to engage more of the arm. Instead simply dip your point straight down slightly, let the parrying blade pass over, and then lift your point back up to where it was. Doing a big circle likely means that you really aren't tuned into the timing of the parry and so you are trying to doing a big deceive to avoid all possible parry tempos (going around your opponent's blade rather than deceiving the actual parry).

So it should be point going down and up achieved just with a slight relaxation of the thumb and forefinger, not big circles around the blade using the wrist or arm.

* Parry-reposte
Especially in foil, beat parries predominate so you want to keep you hand in its "home position" and move it as little as possible. The parry is executed only with a slight turn of the hand and, most importantly, a sharp squeeze of the grip to the smack the opponent's blade sharply. Think less of parrying the blade then of parrying the point in space the blade occupies. Why? Because many people will swing there blade across in a parry and the parry will keep going until it hits something, if not the blade, then the floor. You want small tight parries such that if the blade isn't there, you can execute another parry quickly. Squeezing the grip is key because it stops your blade as with the crystal clarity of a freeze frame. Your blade should be a complete blur and then become crystal clear as you hit the blade (or stop in the air).

Also, make sure you practice predominantly parry-reposte and not just parries in isolation. You don't want to get in the habit of parrying and then stopping or hesitating! The parry-reposte is a unit. In doing the reposte, make sure you lead the forward movement with the point and not the arm and start to roll your hand into hitting position before the thrust.


-5th March 2004, 19:11
Well said, Epeecurean!!