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 better understand fencing? 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.
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 an 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 purpose of this guide is not to teach you how to be a more physical fencer, but a smarter fencer. Nothing will help you improve your fencing faster 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.” A fencing bout is like a conversation between two opponents because each action (or lack thereof) reveals information. The best fencers are the ones who pick up on that information and use it to their advantage.
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.
FLICKING LIKE A PRO—EXPLAINED WITH VIDEOS:
Three Must-Know Keys:
These three main themes are the keys to flicking like a pro:
1) Drawing your opponent’s reaction: tricking your opponent into doing the action that you want them to do, when you want them to do it. Knowing how to set up effective second intention actions is the way to being in charge. It’s about working your opponent’s mind so that he will respond the way you want him to. The importance of setting up an action is that every movement has its purpose.
2) Changing the line of attack: feint on one line and finish on another. The importance of opening up your opponent’s most vulnerable target zones
3) Timing and distance: knowing exactly when to score. Not too early, not too late, not too far, and not too close. Timing and distance are the two most important keys of fencing: mastering the combination of both is the single most important thing you can do to bring your fencing to the next level
The purpose of this guide is to help you become a flicking master. This includes knowing how to find the perfect moment to flick and learning techniques to maximize your chances of successfully landing a flick. Through a series of videos, specific defending and attacking actions are explained step in order to show you how to turn knowledge into action.
The most important lesson about flicking is that it’s not about learning how to flick, but when to flick. Therefore, it is essential to identify the perfect moment to flick your opponents in both defensive and offensive actions.
Two-step flick parry-riposte: if you are new to flicking, one of the best ways to get started is to practice flicking your opponents when they do straight attacks. The reason for this is that when your opponent extends his arm to try to score, he naturally uncovers his shoulder, making it a perfect target for a flick. In the video below, when Cheremisinov attacks, Foconi parries and immediately ripostes to the shoulder since that is a vulnerable target.
Pro tip: when doing a flick parry-riposte, the motion that you do when you defend yourself should simultaneously be your parry and the movement you do to prepare your flick. In other words, the flick parry-riposte should not be completed in three steps (1. parry, 2. prepare flick, 3. flick), but in two steps (1. parry with a motion that also prepares your flick, 2. flick). In the video, pay attention to how Foconi’s circular fourth parry is also the motion that he uses to prepare his flick. This makes his flick-parry riposte much faster because it is completed in two steps, rather than in three.
Drawing your opponent’s attack in order to flick parry-riposte: move toward your opponent while exposing your target area in order to draw your opponent’s attack, and then do a flick parry-riposte when your opponent tries to hit you.
In this second example, it is critical to recognize how Safin drew Cassarà’s attack. Specifically, notice how at the start of the action, Safin takes a long step forward and seemingly exposes his target area. This made Cassarà want to finish his attack in an attempt to hit Safin—Cassarà thought he was catching Safin off-guard. However, in reality Safin wanted Cassarà to finish his attack because Safin was ready to do a parry-riposte. In other words, Safin presented an invitation (a trap) to Cassarà, and Cassarà fell for it.
Pro tip: in order to draw your opponent’s attack, it is helpful if you open up your target area by positioning your blade in a way that makes it look like you’re being caught in preparation. For example, if you move towards your opponent with your blade pointing outwards (that is, not threatening the opponent’s target area), your opponent may be tempted to lunge at you and in order to hit you with a straight attack.
The key to getting this action right is that your invitation should look like you’ve made a mistake, rather than looking like you’re setting up a trap. The following steps are a great way to draw an attack from your opponent so you can do a flick parry-riposte against their attempt to hit you.
- At the start of the action, take a step forward with your blade threatening your opponent’s target area. Your opponent will usually also take a step forward with his blade threatening your target area.
- Take a second step forward, but this time make the step longer and move your blade away from your opponent’s target area, exposing yourself to an attack on preparation. This is the invitation for your opponent to lunge at you.
- If your opponent falls for the trap, he will lunge at you in an attempt to hit you. When this happens, defend yourself with a flick parry riposte.
The key aspect of this set up is to make your opponent think that he’s caught you off-guard, even though in reality he has fallen into your trap. Your invitation should be clear enough so that your opponent notices that there is an opening, but not too obvious so that your opponent will suspect that maybe he’s falling into a trap.
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