Monday, August 06, 2012

Fits and Starts

Another post in quick succession.

We had fencing twice more last week, which is twice more than I am used to, but it was well worth it. Again we had the two coaches from Oahu, Mike Aiao and Saul Mendoza. (This time I learned his name and saw it written as well.)

Saul worked us pretty hard Thursday and Saturday. I was pretty happy with going through drills and just getting in some good practice. I almost put a complaint here, but lets just say I will be working harder to get people to do drills. I will need to work with whoever shows up at the right time, beyond that it is up to them. That was tough not complaining.

Last time I wrote about the footwork, Saul worked us for more than a half hour trying to correct some of our bad habits. But the most recent two the footwork was a minor compared to the bladework. We paired off and he went around teaching and correcting. On Saturday he specifically talked to me about how to do the exercises as a teacher with a student. That was excellent although I am still trying to figure out what... I guess if I write down a bit maybe it will clear up the thoughts about teaching.

One of the big things is to start out basic. Just hit target and keep that up for a few minutes, maybe switching target areas just to get the right hand position. This is is from very close distance, where an extension hits, no movement of the feet. This reminds me, if I am going to have people stab at me over and over I will need to bring my black jacket with me. I can stand getting hit again and again, but it is much more comfortable with padding and the like.

The next is just to add an advance-attack. Just an attack with an advance, not much simpler than that. The big idea here is to watch for the arm coming out first in order to establish right-of-way. If the arm isn't preceding the footwork then it needs to be worked on a bit. This helps in another way as well: If the arm is extended than the footwork can adjust to the correct distance. As the instructor, because I am no way a coach, yet, I need to vary the distance and get a similar attack each time, in other words, they need to hit the same way no matter the distance.

With that working smoothly, and a bit of varying targets, it is time to move on to beats and disengages. This gets exponentially more complex, and there aren't even parries on the student side yet. A strike against the blade is usually a good way to get the opponent to parry in that direction. A beat 4 and then a disengage to the six line as they parry 4 is one of the simplest combination attacks ever. After a beat 4 direct though, it can be another point. Here is a short list of more:

  • Beat 4, direct 4 (no response to the beat)
  • Beat 4, disengage to 6
  • Beat 4, disengage to 8 (Is it really a disengage? Yes.)
  • Beat 6, disengage 4 (Against the same handed person this might not make sense if they are already in 6 guard, but it is much like the direct 4 listed above, if they stay in 6 then 4 is open, why not take it?

Part of getting someone to react the way you want them to is to have a convincing feint. Does the opponent think that they are being threatened? If not then the feint can be continued into a direct attack, all the better. But anyway this is getting long winded, and I am starting to see where I need to be for drilling with most people. I will write more later.

In other news I glued my fencing shoes back together. Unfortunately I would never recommend Absolute Fencing for shoes, they are cheaply made and wear down quickly on wooden floors, not even the cheese-graters of fencing strips. That being said I have bought both my helmets from them after a very denty Italian helmet. They have held up quite well along with the jacket and knickers that I wear 2 to 3 times a week for a moderate amount of fencing. So consider them for most things, but not shoes.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


I am not very good at staying motivated. I can get really excited and start something, but it is tough to keep going. This blog may be an example of gaining and losing interest. Do an inverse on the number of days between posts divided by the average number and you will see a not so good trend. So let's try this:

Tuesday Mike Aiao and a few fencers came out from Oahu. Mike started us out on the footwork for about 10 minutes, I would like to comment on how late everyone started fencing, but let's keep to the subject at hand.

Mike drilled us on Basic footwork, then handed it over to another experienced fencer, whose name completely escapes me. He is a coach too. He took us through footwork, correcting people with too wide of a stance and getting us to move and work for it. Here are a few of the exercises:

  • Advance-Retreat - of course, really simple and basic, but many people don't focus on this after they think they have "mastered" it.
  • Double advance-Double retreat - Again, but getting moving a bit faster and not pausing between the movement, sort of as a smoothing exercise.
  • Check-check - basically just picking up the back foot and then picking up the front foot. Checks to see if you are balanced and not too spread out.
  • Half advance-Half retreat - Again checks to see balance and gets the body used to moving with the correct leg first. The half advance is basically just lifting the front foot and putting the heel where the toe was, then bringing it back to on guard. The retreat is the same, just the other direction.
  • Then add the check-check  in between advances and retreats, that is, on the change of direction.
That was all on the really basic stuff. We also did quite a bit of lunging, he was definitely against over-lunging, which of course is not good for you.

Enough for now, I will write more tomorrow after another evening of fencing.

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