These are truly challenging times and we will make it through together. We will do so through a continued focus on safety, patience, and our ability to adapt to ever-changing landscape challenges posed by the Corona outbreak.
We have been working hard to adapt to this situation and find the best way possible to provide you with effective, fun, exciting resources to help you maintain and advance your fencing skills. We are excited to launch our Virtual Membership Program (VMP) a multi-modal approach to distance learning that will provide you with some great tools to get in shape, keep in shape, sharpen your skills, and learn some new concepts.
We are confidant that your active participation in this program will provide you with great benefits and ultimately help you be a better fencer. So, grab your spoons and get read for action! Oh yeah, we’ll explain the spoons shortly.
However first a point of great importance, perhaps best stated by the Father of Modern Medicine Hippocrates (460-370 BC): Prinum non nocere – “First do no harm“
One problem posed by distance learning is that we cannot monitor your safety practices, hydration, warm-up/cool-down routines… so it is vitally important that take all proper safety precautions to protect yourself and those around you, be sure to stay hydrated, warm-up before attempting any intense physical activity, cool-down afterwards, store your gear carefully, and advance your workouts gradually.
Another challenge posed by distance learning is that we are limited in how we can monitor your fencing form and so we will be giving a good deal of attention to maintaining good form and it is important that you do the same.
As mentioned earlier your active participation in this program will be key to your success and your input is both welcome and necessary to make this the best program possible.
Which reminds me of another quote attributed to Hippocrates!
So, if you are ready do away with any reasons holding you back from being the best fencer you can possibly be – review the safety rules posted below, grab your spoons, and come along!
Extra Credit Assignment: Research Hippocrates thoughts on eating earwax.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Albert Einstein
To succeed in fencing, as in any other aspect of life, we must learn to deal with adversity, challenges and setbacks. All top fencers have had to deal with adversity, and we can draw inspiration from their hard work and perseverance.
One source of immense inspiration is the story of Professor Zbigniew Czajkowski – known as the “Father of Polish Fencing”.
Coach Czajkowski took up fencing at age 14 but his fencing was disrupted by WWII. He joined the Polish Navy to fight Nazis and saw action against Soviet invaders. He was captured twice and ultimately served time in the notorious Vorkuta labor camp in the Russian arctic.
While imprisoned Czajkowski maintained his fencing skills, as best possible, by fencing against fellow prisoners using spoons.
Professor Czajkowski went on to become a world class fencer, coach of champions over four decades – including the first Pole Olympic Fencing Gold Medalist, Egon Franke, a medical doctor, and a prolific author writing more than 200 academic papers and 30 books; including Understanding Fencing – The Unity of Theory and Practice.
Wonder what it would be like to train under and break bread with such a legend? You might ask our own Head Coach Witold Rutkowski!
Coach Czajkowski giving an epee coaches clinic
Extra Credit Assignment: Start a Fencing Diary. Write down a few sentences regarding where you are now as a fencer. Write down a few areas that you feel you most want to improve. Write down some goals that you want to achieve over the next 3 to 6 months. You can also write down any long-term goals.
Your short term goals should be specific and could include things like: develop better blade control, acquire tactics to improve competitive skills, explore a new weapon system like foil or epee, and/or compete in a tournament.
Fencing footwork is super important and something you can practice at home without any special equipment. However, you must be sure that you are keeping good form and reinforcing proper technique.
So, be sure to review stance and footwork basics and maintain a focus on technique rather than speed or number of reps.
Below are two short clips reviewing the en garde stance and footwork basics.
Below is a video developed by Coach Nellya Secvostyanova of Manhattan Fencing. Nellya a past Olympiad and National Champion of Kazakhstan provides a nice set of footwork exercises you can do at home with just 2 meters of space. Just remember Nellya’s rule: If you mess up on an exercise it doesn’t count and you have to do it again!
Controlling distance is a key factor in fencing and there is no better way to develop this critical skill then training with an opponent under the watchful eye of your fencing coach. So what can you do to work on your distance skills from home with no partner? Glad you asked!
In this lesson we’ll look at some distance drills you can do solo and Coach Simon demonstrates a drill you can do with a volunteer non-fencer (played quite convincingly by Coach Mark!)
But first a few words about resources. There are a lot of helpful fencing videos out on Youtube many are available for free or for a modest donation. Of course, there are some videos that you would be better off skipping over or discussing with your coach before attempting to follow. We will help guide you through the resources available and put these in a context that can help you in your home training.
The video below presented by Coach Tyler Kvols-Rieder of Fencer’s Edge demonstrates drills that simply require a little space and a roll of tape. As always, be sure to warm up before doing any physically demanding activities and to cool down afterwards.
Also, take your time and work on maintaining good form.
In the next video we show you how to resolve the “solo” problem. Hope you enjoy!
Extra Credit Assignment: Think of what other drills you can do – safely -to improve your skills working with a non-fencer (response time, hand-eye coordination…) and share via a posting.
Fencing has its own specialized language and it is helpful to develop a grasp of some of the more frequently terms to strengthen your understanding of the tactics and techniques that make up fencing.
In this lesson we will be discussing Renewals and specifically the Redoublement.
Renewal is an offensive action made immediately after a previous offensive action has failed due to a miss or parry.
There are three types of renewals: Remise, Reprise and Redoublement.
An offensive action made immediately after a previous offensive action has missed or been parried. There are three types of renewal: the #Remise (direct), the #Redoublement (indirect or compound) and the #Reprise (made after returning to the en garde position).
In this lesson Coach Simon demonstrates how to make renewals more effective and the over-arching issue of ensuring your fencing moves make sense given the situation you are facing on the piste.
The fencing community is an interesting one. When we are not busy trying to slash and/or skewer one another we are, quite often, do all we can to help one another with extraordinary generosity.
We can see this manifested in the awesome train-at-home videos being posted by outstanding fencing clubs and individuals around the globe and we take great pride in our contributions to this noble cause.
So take comfort in knowing that you are not alone at this challenging time but rather part of an extraordinary world-wide community of fencers ready to offer a helping hand … and looking forward to getting back on the piste where we can all get back to mercilessly drilling each other full of holes!
Here are some train-at-home clips from the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Chicago USA (including drills presented by Coach Habala a five time national champion of Team Romania).
In following these videos remember to warm-up before attempting any physically demanding activities, cool-down after, stay hydrated, always follow safety practices, focus on your form and do not increase your speed until you can execute the moves properly at a slow or moderate pace.
Finally, please let us know which videos you find most helpful, fun, engaging…
Bath Fencing Club – United Kingdom – Saber Drills
S-Class Fencing – Canada – Multiply your attacks
Red Star Fencing – Chicago USA – Footwork Drills
We are including a link to L’ escrime à la maison, in case you would like to practice your French while working on your fencing skills et pourquoi pas?
A fencer’s universe when bouting is a strip that is 14 meters long by 1.5 – 2 meters wide. This strip or piste is a very important piece of real estate where we carry out our craft, bring all our training and conditioning to bear, and use every technique, tactic, and strategy possible – and legal – to beat our opponent; who is, of course, trying to do the same.
Piste awareness: Knowing where you are on the piste, understanding the best moves given your positioning on the piste and your opponents capabilities and reaction to this positioning is critically important to your fencing.
In this lesson we take a deep dive into the fencing playing field so you are prepared to take best of advantage of this important factor in fencing.
Set up your own piste at home
Piste Footwork Drills
3 Situations on the Piste
It is important too to know what penalties you may incur by stepping off the strip under different conditions and which moves are valid when one fencer passes another on the piste.
Assignment: Review Chapter 5 of the USA Fencers Regulations on Competition (click here for PDF file)