The 2016 Torino GP Finals broadcasted THREE UNIQUE MATCHES showing how fascinating the sport fencing is. Why so? It’s because these amazing bouts give us answers to some of the MOST INTRIGUING QUESTIONS fencers ask:
- How to beat someone FASTER than yourself? (Massialas vs Kim)
- How to beat someone TALLER than yourself? (Foconi vs Lefort)
- How to beat the NUMBER ONE ranked fencer in the world? (Foconi vs Massialas)
There is no doubt that to be the best fencer you need more than just speed, height, or talent. The key is to be SMARTER than your opponent. Fencing is not just a sport, but an art. Keep reading to find out about the key insights from the 2016 Torino GP finals.
MASSIALAS (USA) vs KIM (KOR):
How to beat someone FASTER than yourself?
One of the biggest keys to stopping someone faster than yourself is this: you don’t allow your opponent to set up his rhythm. If you let someone faster than yourself lead the match, you will quickly realize what a bad idea that is. YOU have to set your own pace, which means that you never cooperate with what your opponent wants you to do. If he takes an offensive approach, you don’t give him space to elaborate an attack. If he takes a defensive approach, you don’t let him lure you, but you attack him with your own timing. It’s all about breaking the expectations, which doesn’t let the faster fencer move comfortably.
In this semifinal, notice how Massialas doesn’t give Kim space to finish his attacks. Specifically, as soon as Kim starts his attacks, Massialas stops him by either parrying him forward or closing him out. Kim wants to push, but Massialas stands his ground, not allowing Kim to unfold the way he wants. In other words, Massialas does not do what Kim is expecting, which is retreating. Rather, Massialas frustrates Kim with actions that stop Kim’s attacks dead in his tracks. When Massialas allows Kim to lead in his attacks, having Massialas follow Kim’s timing, Kim is the one to score.
The bottom line is this: when fencing a faster fencer, impose your game. Fence at your distance and your timing. It’s very important that you don’t let their speed lead your timing. In that scenario, you are doomed to play a game where your opponent is stronger than you.
FOCONI (ITA) vs LEFORT (FRA): How to beat someone TALLER than yourself?
One of the best tips to beat someone taller than you is very simple yet often overlooked: don’t fence in a long distance. When you let a tall opponent fence in a long distance, you’re on a playing field where he’s stronger than you. Given the reach that each fencer has, the tall fencer has an advantage because he can always hit you from farther away. Long attacks and stop-hits are the deadly enemies.
The shorter fencer benefits from short-distance fencing because he’s faster than the taller fencer. Picture Ota Yuki (JPN) vs Lei Sheng (CHN). While a taller fencer may have more reach, the shorter fencer can be more explosive. The key is to bring your opponent onto the playing field where he is at a disadvantage. Make the slower moving extremities (long legs and arms) of your opponent become too big, and thus an hassle to him. Especially in corps-à-corps situations, the target zones will play to your advantage: his will feel larger and vulnerable, while yours will feel smaller and hard to hit. When approaching your opponent, shorter steps also help you keep your opponent from stop-hitting you, and they hide your final attack. In other words, short steps allow you be in control during an attack because you gauge the distance and timing of the hits better.
Notice how Foconi uses all of the above mentioned tips to his advantage. Foconi is constantly closing the distance with swift, short steps; he also keeps his blade ready to parry and riposte potential stop-hit attempts from Lefort; and he is sneaky about making his target zone really hard to hit. Lefort, on the other hand, tries to keep a long distance: he tries to fence from afar, where his body can stretch to take advantage of his physique. But, Foconi succeeds in pushing Lefort to the grounds where he has the advantages to win.
FOCONI (ITA) vs MASSIALAS (USA): How to beat the NUMBER ONE ranked fencer in the world?
Well, that’s a really tough question. He is the number one fencer in the world for a reason, after all. However, it’s interesting to notice some of the things that Foconi did really well in this match.
First off, Foconi avoided trying to hit Massialas in the target zones he covers best. Instead, he focused on flicking Massialas on his shoulder and back. What is more, Foconi prepared a lot of second intention actions to do this. Specifically, he would attack Massialas, who would make a parry-riposte, and then Foconi would counterparry-riposte to the back. Finally, Foconi also took great advantage of the momentum when it was on his side. An emotionally intense fencer, he built up his confidence even more from a roaring home crowd who was delighted by his passionate spectacle. In summary, he led the match by establishing his game with an initiative that could not be stopped, even by the current number one ranked fencer in the world.
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