quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Thursday, May 31, 2007

shoes, blisters and taking the blade

I was late to fencing. My train was late home, there was no lift, so I stuffed my kit into backpack and sword bad and set out to walk.

I haven't yet replaced the old trainers with holes, which finally lost all efficiency. It was wet, so sandals wouldn't do. I thought about walking boots, but for some reason could find only one. So, rather than wear the white trainers I keep for fencing, I put on my blue work shoes. After all, the heels aren't that high.

By the time I'd left the house, returned for the things I'd forgotten and set out again, I realised I was going to be late. With only a few yards covered, my feet began to hurt. I stuck out my thumb in a hopeful attempt to hitch. After all, if any driver proved dangerous I did have three swords with me.

The drivers didn't stop. They must have thought a middle-aged woman with large rucksack and three swords was most likely mad. I could see their point. I staggered on.

It's school half-term so there was plenty of space in the hall. Unfortunately some of the space was caused by the absence of epeeists. There were only two other epeeists: male, experienced fighters, taller than me and with a longer reach. I managed a few hits, possibly because they were being kind. They managed quite a few - but this week most of the hits I took were painless, which was an improvement.

I struggled quite badly in the second bout. "You have to take my blade," my opponent said helpfully. I tried in the approved manner - forte to foible. Every time I tried he still managed to control my blade, force it into a circle, take it out of the way and land a hit.

"So what do I do?" I asked. "Exercise to strengthen my wrist?" It didn't seem likely I could make my wrist that much stronger.

"Aim here," he said, helpfully, indicating his wrist just behind the guard.

"But you take my blade first," I complained. "And anyway, I'm already trying to be accurate."

"You could win on speed," he encouraged.

"But I don't do fast. I think this is as fast as I get."

My opponent smiled.

OK readers - any ideas?

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Anonymous Jim said...

It is very difficult ( if not impossible ) to read something about fencing and then do it.

However, here are some things I have some success with, maybe you can give them a try.

Take the blade in eight and attack the thigh. Always go low when taking the blade in eight.

If you are fencing taller people than you and they are fencing with a French grip, do a couple of very hard beats on the blade before trying to take their blade. It makes them tighten their grip on the French grip and slows them down a bit.

Do not worry so much about doing a circle six in opposition, just place your bell guard on their point ( form the triangle ) push it out to past six ( if they are right handed ) and angle the blade in to target.

Try beating lightly with the bottom of the blade on their weapon. This keeps your point in line with the target and is faster. Go for the cuff or elbow. This beat works best if you fence some one who keeps their blade parallel to the floor and not with the tip up.

Try this type of press. Gently and friendly like ( this is important ) place your tip to their tip ( if they will let you) press slowly and firmly to the left ( if they are write handed ) like opening a door part way and then with all your speed...attack the arm.

More later.

4:19 am  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

A foilest who fences epee and is 5'6" or so wins well by using counter pressure as a trigger, she pushes slightly on the outside of the blade from the six and when she feels the slight pressure on her blade, she disengages while lunging and hits the inner bicep, using the brief time the person's slightly push outward means they are committed to resist, which means one beat to realize there is no resistance anymore, and one beat to find where the blade is now - apparently that gives her enough time.

9:00 am  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

As for myself, I found a male with the strongest arm, and fenced toe to toe with him for 45 minutes a week, I could sway my body but not step back. I knew I was weak in "feeling" with my blade when to parry, how much and when not to. Working with him for two months, I developed an sense which did not require looking whether an engagement or even attack was primary or desired to move me from position (also a change in guard position reenforced this) - so, I could ignore or move a minor fraction during engagements, waiting for the opponent's arm to extend. This is when people started switching to binds. Sadly I could not find someone proficent in binds to practice within target distance with - I don't know if this will be of use to you, I only did it because I found I was loosing almost every time someone would engage my blade because I either 1) reacted to slowly or 2) overreacted - I needed to train myself to learn how to see the opening during an engagement (hit as engaged) or to use minimal angulation or effort to move the point to a neutral position and get back to target as quickly and efficently as possible.

9:09 am  
Blogger kathz said...

Thanks very much for the helpful advice. It will probably take me a while to work out how to do it - and even longer to put it into practice - but I'll have a go. I've got a feeling I'm still not fast or accurate enough - and perhaps never likely to be.

I'm the only epeeist in the club fencing with a French grip, I'm afraid - so I'm the one who's vulnerable to that attack. But I sometimes try to use the extra distance it gives me, as almost all my opponents have a longer reach.

I think the counter pressure idea might work but it will take time and practice - like most things in fencing.

It's really great to be able to get your advice. (I'm nearly 5 ft 9, by the way, so quite tall but the men are taller. Fencing women is a different problem altogether because all the women I get to fence are smaller than me and so my usual strategies don't work. There are also a couple of left-handed coaches who help me and let me fence them occasionally - and I find that's fun.)

10:14 pm  

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