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How to Spot a Poor Fencer

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How to Spot a Poor Fencer

1, A Bent Foot. The bent leading foot is generally the most common characteristic of a beginning fencer. It is natural for the foot to bend or twist inward in the en garde position. This tends to automatically move the attack direction, and the point of the blade, off target toward the left (for a right-handed fencer). In addition, the lunge extension tends to become off balance, make it difficult to recover from the lunge.

2. An Excessively Bent Arm. This is another common problem. Too much bend in the arm requires more motion in the extension to a straight arm for the attack, and this takes valuable time. An arm movement has much more inertia than a hand movement and is therefore generally much slower. The elbow of an inexperienced fencer is often bent, thus bringing the blade much too close to the body, which requires much more motion and time in the thrust. It also leads to less accuracy in placing the point.

3. A Tight Fist. This is one of the first things that a fencing master will try to correct. A tight fist locks the hand an wrist to the arm, making various movements slow and difficult. As the hand tightens, the wrist and arm also tend to tighten.

4. Elbow Out. An elbow projecting outward from the body is a sure sign of an inexperienced (or poorly trained) fencer. It inevitably leads to the point going off target. In epee and saber, it becomes a great target for the opponent.

5. Bent Wrist. This is almost as faulty as the Elbow Out, although the inertia is lower. The blade and arm must be brought in line with the target, by first straightening the wrist, for the thrust to hit the target accurately. The director of a match will be looking for a thrust with the point in line with the target in order to grant "right-of-way".

6. Full Open Body position. The full open body, with the shoulders off-line of the target, has several disadvantages. For one, it opens up the full width of the torso for a direct attack. Secondly, the body must be twisted sideways for the full lunge, which takes additional time and motion. Some good fencers do utilize this position, but most all great fencers have both shoulders nearly fully in line with the target. This can be a little uncomfortable at first, but you can get used to it.

7. Poor Balance:. The body weight should rest on the left foot for a right-handed person. The left arm position is important for balance and recovery from the lunge. The obvious indicators are: palm, fingers or arm pointed downward. The most experienced fencers use a left arm position with the palm upward and the arm toward the rear. In foil, an advantageous position is with the left arm is bent upward and the fingers pointing forward, in line with the weapon arm. A little additional forward motion is obtained by the extension of the left arm at the end of the lunge.

7. Difficulty in Recovering from the Lunge. A poor lunge leaves the fencer off balance and makes it difficult to return to the en garde position. A fast recovery is necessary when the attack fails. The causes are generally due to the bent right foot, fully exposed body position and/or the knee not directly above the foot when en garde. If the lunge is executed properly, a second lunge can be executed directly from a full lunge extension!

8. Running Into the Opponent. This will happen to any fencer on occasion, since both fencers can cause a collision. However, when this continually occurs, it is a sign of improper control of distance and timing that is typical of a new fencer. For the most part, stay back! Keep slightly out of distance and close the distance when you choose to do so.

 


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