When I was growing up practicing meant sitting on the hard piano bench and maybe playing, but mostly waiting for a half-hour to roll by. Homework was a once or twice a school-year occurrence mostly consisting of a science fair project or some other large project, even through high-school. So I do not have a stellar record for discipline and practicing, but I am beginning to see the purpose.
Right now there is a severe lack of discipline in our fencing group, everyone wants to fence, by which they mean sparring, not learning to fence but just beating each other about the head in hopes of landing a point. It isn't that bad, but it is getting worse. I am not the most disciplined person in the world, but somehow my meager practice and discipline stand out over most of the rest of the group.
A Call for Discipline
We could all use more discipline as a group. The good thing is that there does seem to be a bit of warm-up discipline, most fencers will jog around the gym a couple times and do high-kicks and side steps. This is a good thing to keep up, however, it should be slightly expanded for most to include arm stretches and individual footwork.
The point of the warm up is to get muscle groups working together and warmed up. This may help to develop muscle groups for those who don't do anything else throughout the week, but for someone in decent shape the warm up will do nothing but get the blood, muscles, and bones moving. If a fencer were to commit a solid thirty minutes to working on cardio, muscle group strengthening, and fencing specific individual things such as footwork and point-control, then and only then would I say that is a start.
In fact I would say that 30 minutes once a week of intense individual fencing practice would be for those who plan to never go to a tournament, who enjoy fencing just for fencing, but who need to maintain a level of activity and skill in order to keep up with those who plan to be competitors.
The leisure fencers should also work to maintain their bladework and distance skills by doing partner practices for about 30 minutes a week as well. This is to keep from injuring their fellow fencers. This is a sport based off of three weapons, there will certainly be injuries and bruises, but they can be lessened by in large by good form and decent control.
Competitive fencers, or really any fencer who plans to go to a tournament, even if they claim just to be fencing for fun, should be held to a higher level.
Cardiovascular Condition: Should be able to maintain intensity through a 3 minute fencing period. For direct eliminations, or larger tournaments, should be able to maintain 3 of those periods with 1 minute breaks in between. Smartly choosing intensities and tactics for different bouts in order to conserve/be ready for all day fencing. I run 5 to 10 miles a week currently, but I have very little good experience and knowledge at correctly choosing intensity and overall tournament strategy. I feel stronger and more energetic on the strip than I have for nearly 3 years before I picked up running again. I would suggest anything from power-walking for 2-3 hours a week to running 5 to 20 miles per week.
This could get very long pretty quickly so I will be writing up several more posts of what a competitive fencer should be doing each week in order to advance beyond just talent. I know this is hard for some to take as it seems that I am just pointing a finger, but truthfully it is something i need to consider to. Some questions we can ask ourselves: Do I want to get better? What bad habits should I try to eliminate? Do I want to be fencing as strong at the end as I was in the beginning?
Until next time work on some cardio. Next time is footwork.
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