WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Fencing lessons cost up to $40 dollars each, totaling up to $120 dollars per week for three lessons. And what are lessons, but investments that we make to understand fencing better? Lessons are training sessions for the mind. But, a coach only has so much time to discuss the specific details of actions during a lesson—in short: every second costs you money.
So, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take as much time as you wish to understand the key insights, without it costing you more? If anything, wouldn’t that make your lessons more productive and save you money? The idea here is NOT at all to eliminate fencing lessons but to make sure you’re getting the most out of them. This course is a complement to your lessons and practice: a way to help you get a guaranteed edge on your competitors by developing your mind further. If the idea of strengthening your fencing lessons and practice with key insights from Olympic fencers appeals to you, you are in the right place.
“Fencing is like playing chess on a physical, high level”—Fabian Kauter
This guide will not teach you how to be more physical in your fencing, but SMARTER. Nothing will help you improve more than using your mind when you practice. To do that, you must THINK about what every action means. Yuki Ota brilliantly explained that when we fence, “we are talking, using the brain.” This guide will break down complex actions to reveal what’s going on inside the minds of world-class fencers so that you may start thinking the way they do.
KEY INSIGHTS IN THIS COURSE INCLUDE:
- How to establish and make your opponent play your game to your advantage: the importance of mixing up what your opponent thinks you will do next
- How to open up your opponent’s most vulnerable target zones: using your distance and timing like a pro while switching the line of attack
- How to significantly increase the speed of your attacks with simple and yet very powerful tricks: essential footwork setups
ADVANCED FOIL ATTACK STRATEGIES—EXPLAINED WITH VIDEOS:
Straight-attack (Italian style): attack your opponent directly by moving your back foot first. This will give your attack much more explosiveness than if you start with your front foot.
The way in which Sanzo (left) finishes his attack reveals a key insight into how you can increase the speed of your attacks. The secret is to start attacking with your back foot, rather than your front foot. Notice how when Sanzo starts to lunge, his front foot stays in place. This makes his attack faster because by bringing his back foot forward, he builds up momentum. Then, he immediately kicks forward with his front foot to finish a very explosive attack. The speed of the attack should make it look like it’s just one movement. Don’t just take my word for this. Try it out, and you will see it for yourself.
Important: if you look closely, you will see that before finishing his straight-attack, Sanzo took the time to set up his action. Specifically, in the example above, he established a pattern where he would bend his knees and move his head forward. So, when he started to finish his attack, it just looked like he was bending his knees and moving his head forward again. But, in reality, he was giving impulse to his attack. This is a great example of how a seemingly simple action (straight-attack) actually had a whole set of steps to it. It was not just a bunch of random movements, but a carefully executed plan.
This video shows another example of the Italian straight-attack. Notice how even the step forward in preparation for the attack starts with the back foot. This setup both disguises and increases the speed of the attack.
Important: one of the biggest takeaways from the setup of attack is the importance of the half-step. The Italian straight-attack is basically making it seem like you’re taking a half-step, when what you’re really doing is finishing your attack. In other words, this setup shows you how you can use half-steps to hit your opponent with a surprise attack.
Indirect Attack: feint on one line and finish on another. In this example, Ota feints that he will attack on fourth, then disengages Sanzo’s blade and finishes on sixth.
This specific touch is textbook-like because of the way it is set up. Ota knew that Sanzo wanted him to attack him on fourth. So, on second 0:09, Ota shows Sanzo his blade feinting on fourth. Then, two seconds later, Ota attacks indirectly by disengaging Sanzo’s parry fourth. The next moment, you see Sanzo pointing his head indicating how he fell for Ota’s trick.
Important: Ota’s “jumping footwork” is a great way to time his moves. It’s almost as if it was music: he sets his movements by the tempo of the jumps. Specifically, in the example above, he creates the following sequence:
- Start with your blade down
- Take a half-step forward and extend your arm halfway to show a feint on fourth
- Put you arm back down and take three jumping steps back
- Instead of taking a fourth jump-step back, start your indirect attack with a jump-step forward
Why is this such an effective footwork style? The jumps not only help you pace yourself, but they also hide the action that you are getting ready to execute, which makes you faster.
Indirect flèche (OTA style): feint on one line and finish on another. In this example, Ota feints that he will attack on fourth, then disengages Sanzo’s blade and finishes on sixth.
Speaking about this particular touch, Ota’s fléche is definitely one of his signature moves because of the way he feints. Most fencers were taught to feint by using their fingers to make the movements as small as possible. However, the way Ota fléches is different: he uses all of his forearm.
Specifically, when facing a right-handed opponent, Ota’s fléche has three steps to it. Firstly, he starts by pointing his blade up so that his opponent’s blade is also up (in case it isn’t already there). The point of doing this is to uncover his opponent’s bottom target. Secondly, he feints on the bottom target by moving his entire forearm downward (moving his entire forearm is critical because that’s what makes the feint visible to the opponent). In other words, making his move look very apparent is key because that’s what makes his opponent fall for his feint. Thirdly, he finishes on sixth (or up), which is the line he uncovered in the first two steps. When done right, these three steps can make your indirect flèche unstoppable, just the way Ota makes it look like in the video above.
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