There are no quick fixes in life, and mastering fencing takes a lifetime. However, there are absolutely things that you can do right now to improve your fencing, and they aren’t all that difficult nor do they all take that long.
Here are a dozen quick ways that you can help you change your routine right away and let you look at your fencing a bit differently, and by that, they can help improve your fencing skills starting right now.
1. Try the opposite day
Shake up your bouting! If you continue to do the same things over and over again, you will get the same results. To do this, go into a bout and just do the opposite. If you usually attack first, hang back and let your opponent come in for you. If you have the urge to counterattack, step back and use parry instead. Do the opposite of your instincts, and you will absolutely feel your brain melt a little, in a good way. Of course, you will likely go back to mostly the way you were, but you will definitely learn something immediately.
2. Add another private lesson
Even if you are already taking private lessons, adding another lesson time each week will boost your skills quickly and with great guidance. Because fencing lessons are so short – just twenty minutes – hopefully you can add another one in without altering your schedule drastically.
3. Transform into a sponge
The idea of a growth mindset is a buzzy one in sports circles, but that’s because it’s incredibly helpful. All you have to do is to shift your focus to truly being a student of fencing, like a sponge that is soaking up every little thing that you possibly can.
This is really helpful if you have been fencing for a really long time. We can get stuck in a rut so easily after training for a while, and that just isn’t going to help you get better. The sponge mentality can be an instant game changer, leading you to see improvements that you didn’t even know you needed to make.
4. Stop going through the motions
After a while in fencing, or doing anything, everyone starts to just go through the motions. It stalls out progress, but the good news is that it’ll give you a boost when you check back in. During a bout, even a simple one against a clubmate that you have bouted a hundred times before, turn your focus onto what exactly is happening and take each hit as a way that you can get better.
5. Add conditioning
This is a physical sport, and your physical fitness is a big driver. There is so much focus on cross-training because it is important for stamina and agility. Cardio in particular will help your body to support your fencing goals. With regular cardio workouts, you can train in fencing for longer before you get tired, and that will make you better able to improve.
It does not matter what kind of cardio you do. It can be running, swimming, biking, the treadmill, the elliptical, anything. You want to get your heart rate up. Think thirty minutes, three times a week to start with. After just a couple of weeks, you will already see some improvement in your ability to train and thus your ability to be a better fencer. As always, talk to your coach for guidance as they know your personal needs and condition.
6. Practice the hundred
Choose some fencing movement that you can improve on and practice it with your teammate. It might be a lunge or a flick, whatever you need to work on. Make sure you are doing it exactly right, and that is so important, it MUST BE PERFECT. Then do it perfectly a hundred times. That is not an exaggeration. It might take a while, and you might have to stop and take a break halfway through, but this exercise will improve your form instantly. Don’t phone it in when you’re repeating it either, make sure you are focused and checked in with each movement.
Once you do a movement perfectly a hundred times, it’s ingrained in your body. Repetition is the key to automatic movement, and it doesn’t take long for that to happen.
7. Do a half time session
Similar to the hundred, you can improve your fencing by slowing to half time. Whatever your drills are that you are working on, slow them down and dig out the details of your movements. That very slow speed lets you see things that you have missed and as such fix them.
This is a lightning fast sport. So often, fencers just go for it and keep trying to move faster, and that is really a great goal in the competition. However, your form has to come first. If you move quickly but sloppily, you’ve got a lot of room for improvement. Slow it down, get it right, then speed it back up and watch how much better you are!
8. Ask your coach what you can improve right now
Just come right out and ask your coach “Coach, what can I do today that will improve my fencing right now.” Your fencing coach will most definitely have ideas for you that no blog could ever be able to tell you.
9. Shift to a tactical mindset
You can outsmart your opponent. Period. Don’t question this. Realize that most of your opponents are fencing on autopilot a lot of times, and all you have to do is be more in the moment and responsive than they are. That simple shift will change the game for your fencing in one swift stroke. You don’t have to be the fastest or most technical fencer ever to use your wit to beat your opponent. Think of fencing as a chess game. All the time.
10. Watch a video of yourself fencing
If you have never watched a video of yourself fencing, why haven’t you? There is almost nothing that will improve your fencing faster than looking at what you’re doing from the outside perspective. You cannot see everything when you are living it, and seeing yourself on camera is a powerful shift for any fencer.
Did you know that you hold your arm this way, or that your body is too forward facing? Why aren’t your lunges longer or your parries more accurate? Even if you’ve analyzed videos of your bouts before, by all means, do it again! The more you watch yourself, the more places you will see that you can grow. And if you have some difficulty to decipher your bouts, your coach will gladly help you.
11. Identify your biggest weakness
You probably already know what your biggest weakness is in fencing. You probably thought of it just when you read #11 Heading. If something didn’t immediately jump to mind, then take a minute and think about it. If something did immediately jump to mind, then dig deeper and make sure that you’re focused in on the right thing. You can always ask your coach if you’re unsure.
Once you have identified your biggest weakness, focus on that for a while and you’ll see a major jump in your skill quickly. That’s because you have the furthest to grow in this particular area, so it’s a bit of an easy thing to do. Growth is growth!
12. Train more
We will leave you with this last big of golden wisdom about how to improve your fencing – just fence more. If you really want to improve your fencing quickly, there is no way around practice. Practice. Practice. If you want to improve at twice the rate you are improving now, there is no magic except to train twice as much. That could look like anything from attending more open fencing events to adding in competitions to attending more classes, private lessons or practicing at home. If you put in the extra time, you will be rewarded with improvements in your skill. It is as simple and as difficult as that.
Though there are no real quick fixes in fencing, these dozen tips will definitely help you to get better as fast as is possible. It’s all about training both smarter and harder.