View Full Version : improving offensive skills

-6th March 2004, 18:14
i started fencing one year ago and i'm practising 3x/week. since a
couple of months (since the summer break to be precise) i find myself
having troubles with offensive actions. my parry-riposte is working
pretty reliable, but i simply can't find a way how to prepare a
successful attack. either i start advancing and just before executing
my attack i'm hesitating and waiting for my opponent to start an
action (which happens most of the times), or i'm already hit while
still in preparation. to make it short, i'm good at reacting to my
opponent's play but bad at imposing my own play on them. oddly enough,
it happened to be exactly the other way round before summer
break...also, my feints are pretty good during lessons, but complete
rubbish when bouting...
does anybody have some suggestions how to get over that offensive

-8th March 2004, 09:44
Try doing a practice with a partner where you attack, but he/she tries to stop hit you if he sees you attack (this may only work with a better fencer, not a beginner, as they need to be able to see your impending attack). You have to try and attack without telegraphing your intentions (when I do this, I think of being suddenly and unexpectedly yanked by the fingers). If you look carefully, you may be moving your feet before your sword. The arm must extend first, before any other part of your body even twitches. After you have tried this a few times with a partner, they will be able to tell you what you are doing wrong.
Note that getting the distance right is critical (as always) before you start.

The more you think about the attack, you more you will warn you're opponent in this exercise. Try to be unexpected (but don't try too hard - the most important person to suprise is yourself)

When you're fighting, you could always try preparations such as beats and pressures, but it's better to be able to attack without warning.

-9th March 2004, 11:45
If you start your attack with your arm in the correct place, you can almost fully extend it before your opponent even notices. Took me a while to twig on to that 'un.

-10th March 2004, 12:41
You've often only got a little bit of distance to make up with your feet, but you feet move very slowly (compared with you arm, which extends vitually instantaneously in comparison). As oddball says, get your arm out first and the time it takes you to hit is often only the time of lunging about a foot or so (which is not very long), but the time to lunge just a little bit further is a lot slower if your arm is a little bent.
If you extend you arm slowly as you lunge (as most beginners do at first) then your lunge is far less effective.
You'd be suprised:
a) how difficult it is to separate your actions (i.e. make your arm and legs do something different)
b) how effective it is. In the practice I said at the beginning, once you've got the hang of it, you can hit your partner from only just inside normal fencing distance before they can parry even though they are prepared for you to attack (although it is very hard!)
As for things that work in the practice but not in bouts try it against lots of different people until you find someone it works on. If you can't, then you'll just have to keep practicing it, first with movement, then into a more relaxed semi-bout, but with your partner's understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

Pointy stick
-10th March 2004, 16:45
Funny, I was discussing some of the same problems with my coach in my last lesson.

The way to avoid telegraphing a beat is to keep it small, tight, and from the fingers. Don't "lift" the blade to give it more momentum. Hold the grip loosely and snap it into the beat by tightening the last three fingers, and perhaps a small snap or roll of the wrist. So, in golf terms, no backswing.

And to get your offensive movements to work, the arm has to go out when your feet are ready to launch you into the attack, whether it is with a step or with a lunge. It is far easier to time all your beats, preparations and extensions to coincide with the back foot hitting the floor. I think of a trigger in my back heel and when that trigger hits the floor, the sword does its business.

If you attack with your back foot on the ground, that's a solid platform for your attack.

We discussed beating as the front foot hits the ground. there are pros and cons, but it definitely requires more commitment because it makes you vulnerable for a moment to a well timed counterattack.