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What to do when you get in trouble

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Here are some suggestions that may help when your opponent has found an attack that is getting touches.

1. Maintain your composure

Easy to say, not so easy to do. It is natural to become concerned when a stressful situation occurs. Under such circumstances, it is also natural to overdo. In many sports, the result is that an athlete tries to do things that are faster than normal and beyond one's capability - - to 'hurry up'. For instance, your disengage may occur without the full preliminary feint under such circumstances. Without the proper feint, the chances are that your opponent will not try to parry, and the disengage will not work. Once you know that this can happen, you are one step up on the problem and can take steps to minimize it.

1. Change your blade position

There are several ways to do this. A slight move from the initial position of the arm toward the final attack area where your opponent is scoring touches can save time and effort. For instance, if you are getting hit on the flank, move the blade toward the flank in the en garde position. A minor movement of the arm is preferable, and too much arm movement can result in an invitation (the use of the invitation is discussed below). Arm movements are slow movements, so moving the blade closer to where your opponent's blade ends up yields a definite time advantage. Left-handed fencers generally prefer with feints and attacks to the flank, so a blade position towards the flank may help.

2. Try an "invitation"

The invitation involves the arm, blade and wrist positions such that it invites an attack in a certain area where you are prepared to counter the attack. The most desirable area to move your blade towards may be opposite from where you are getting hit so that the en garde position of his blade is drawn away from it. The parry seconde is a very powerful parry, so opening up the lower flank invites an simple attack to that target. The hand is in pronation, so you may want to begin with that hand position, which can also save some time in the parry. On the other hand, if the opponent is hitting you with a low line attack to the flank, that is his favorite target, and you can also try closing the line in the lower flank. Closing the line sometimes affects the opponent's strategy, when he sees that there is not much target to aim at. I have found that this tactic works well against fencers who are using the Russian style of attacking low line.

3. Move your position on the strip

A good example of making a change in position work is for the case of a left-handed fencer. Strangely enough, his weak area is generally his left flank, and many left-handers tend to move the blade toward their flank area. Therefore, a position towards your right on the strip can help, since your opponent can only go so far to his left. This allows you a better opportunity to hit his flank, since he can't move much further to his left in order to avoid the attack. I believe that the reason this works is that the left-hander's main advantage is for an opponent's attack toward the stomach area. Note that the director will require you to begin in the middle of the strip, but you can quickly move to one side or the other after the command to begin fencing has occurred.

4. How to handle the fleche

If the fleche is allowed in your type of weapon, then it may very well be the first movement of your opponent after the command to begin fencing. There are several things that you can experiment with in order to counter the fleche. One method is to thrust into the attack, which can produce a hesitation in the attack of your opponent. This doesn't work well against beginning fencers, since their reactions are not yet entrained. However, even highly trained experienced fencers may react by slowing their attack or even halting it. I have seen this tactic used successfully in the finals of the Nationals. A second possibility is to keep your blade in motion, with slight movements to one side or the other, up or down. The attacker has to follow these movements, and he may run out of time trying to follow them during his attack. A third possibility is to move your body out of line near the end of the attack. In one saber match, my opponent and I were tied at four-all (la belle). Fleches were allowed then, and he ran toward me with an attack to my head (he had used this attack successfully earlier). I dropped down into a crouch (not a full pasada soto) and did a stop thrust. My brand new blade hit his stomach and broke into three pieces. Even though I won the bout, I was more concerned about the loss of my new blade. I used a similar tactic successfully in a foil match against an experienced and capable Southern California fencer whom I respected. It was his third touch and he was ahead, but he was so affected by missing me completely in his attack that he lost his composure.

(Watch for future additions to this section)

 

 

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