There is a great deal of battle in fencing.
By “battle”, what I mean is that to be effective, fencers must think about constantly about the tug of war that is happening between them and their opponent. Who has the high ground, who has the low ground, when to attack, when to retreat. This kind of thinking starts before the bout even begins, and in fact extends after the match is over. Just as a general works to position his troops to his best advantage in battle, so too must a fencer learn to exploit every possible opportunity on the strip.
Keep in mind that chess is a game of war and conquest as well. Just as when you’re in a chess match you’ve got to be thinking one or two or five steps ahead, so too in the physical chess that is fencing you’ve got to be able to think one or two or five steps ahead.
Here are five critical ways you can take advantage of tactical fencing.
Category: Coaching (Page 1 of 9)
There is a great deal of battle in fencing.
Fencing and tennis are not entirely different sports. Both are individual, with two opponents and a referee required. Both are prized sports in the Olympics. Both invoke a great deal of passion from their athletes. Both are famous for their grunting and yelling during matches. While we might not have a ball and they might not have a sword, the dynamics of the two are similar.
The furor surrounding tennis superstar Serena William over the last few weeks is almost impossible to ignore. From her Black Panther inspired catsuit that was banned from the French Open to her showdown with a referee in the U.S. Open Final that seemingly cost her the Grand Slam title, she has been an athlete swirling in controversy.
No matter where you fall in terms of her behavior or the behavior of the judge during that U.S. Open Final, we can all agree that there are plenty of lessons that athletes, including fencers, can learn from what happened.
Recently I had a thought-provoking conversation with a mom of one of our serious epee fencers. This experienced epeeist had gone to a fencing competition where he’d won all of his bouts against A and B rated rivals, but oddly lost two bouts against relatively “beginners”. How could this happen? The mom thought that it came down to nerves, however there’s much more to it than that.
This outcome, while it doesn’t happen every day, is at the same time not at all uncommon. How and why experienced epee fencers specifically can find themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard against beginners is threefold.
Hard work and dedication is at the foundation of any athlete, and fencers are no exception to this. Hard work can appear to be different to different fencers though, depending on their skill level, their training, and their passion for the sport.
But does hard work really pay off? Is it possible to see the results you want just from putting in hours and hours of training and effort? Let’s take a closer look at what is involved when you put in the hard work.
Youth fencing brings with it youth referees, an aspect of our sport that’s good all the way round.
As a fencing father and a fencing event organizer, I’ve watched as beginner and young fencing referees work their way through calling matches. They start officiating at tournaments at a very young age, down to age twelve and sometimes even to age ten! That’s a fantastic thing as it develops referees, it develops fencers, it instills confidence, and so much more. Handing over a match to a young fencer shows them that the adults in their life trust them to make smart, level headed decisions.
Making mistakes is a part of life. Refs at the national level make mistakes. Refs at the Olympic level make mistakes. However a lack of experience means that young refs make more mistakes than those veterans with years of calling matches under their belt. What’s more, young refs tend to make the same kinds of mistakes again and again. While we can’t instantly give our young fencing referees years of experience with a snap of the fingers, we can teach them how to remedy their most common mistakes by mastering fencing referee skills.
Note that when we talk about these important fencing referee skills, we aren’t talking about the details of technical decisions and rules. Those are aspects of being a ref that young fencers should go to their coaches and mentors to deal with. Instead these are guidelines for all of fencing refereeing that exists outside of the technical aspects of the sport.