The drills in this sequence are useful for developing many of the
skills and abilities-both mental and physical-necessary to successful fencing. These skills include weapon control, body control,
balance, conditioning, distance perception, distance maintenance, timing, and conceptualization of tactics. The following
progressions will prove excellent in group settings. First, the students learn to execute a simple direct attack; then they
learn to execute it at the right time and distance by utilizing distance stealing footwork. The progression
then takes the students through a series that begins to address sentiment de fer-feeling for the blade (both the
fencer’s own blade and the opponents blade)-and control of the opponents weapon by the preparations of engagements and
change of engagements.
DIRECT ATTACK AND RETREAT
Progression for Direct Attack and
Retreat as Defense.
early phases of learning, students should be instructed to hold the final position of thrusts and lunges briefly to learn
the feeling of the touch. Holding a position momentarily allows students the time to concentrate on form and make self-corrections.
This is known as fixing. Each exercise should be repeated for a set amount of time or for a set number of trials. The former
is preferred since beginners tend to work too fast and carelessly, as if it were the mere number of repetitions that lead
to improvement rather than repetition with attention to the details.
Paired Drills. V
Part 1: Distance
From extension distance: The attacker extends the arm and touches the opponents target, holding briefly and then recovering.
b. From lunging distance: Lunge and
touch the opponents target, hold, and recover to on guard.
From advance lunge distance: Advance lunge and touch the opponents target, hold, and recover to on guard.
Part 2,: Defense by retreat-Tutorial drills.
a. The attacker lunges, and the defender takes one retreat to avoid
being touched. The defender is not to lean backwards.
The attacker executes an advance lunge, and the defender takes two retreats to avoid being touched.
NOTE,. The students may find that the designated steps in these defense-by-retreat
drills are either not enough or perhaps too much. Students must learn to assess each situation and respond appropriately.
Some opponents will require three small retreats to escape from the advance lunge, while others can be avoided with one large
Part 3,: Direct attack-Exchange
progression includes two exercises (b and c below) that introduce very basic distance-stealing footwork tactics. The tactics
introduced are sometimes referred to as hypnotism tactics. We recommend that fencing teachers include various other
distance-stealing footwork tactics in addition to those introduced in this manual (see footnote 10).
a. Attacker lunges to body; defender takes one
or two balanced and complete retreats as the tactic to avoid the touch; the attacker recovers from the lunge and
the fencers then reverse roles so that this becomes a continuous exchange drill.
b. The designated attacker first establishes a set
pattern of movement, e.g. advance, retreat, retreat. The pattern should be very simple and not include more than four steps.
The defender must follow the attacker’s footwork pattern, allowing the attacker to predict the defenders movement. After
repeating the pattern several times, the objective for the attacker is to break the pattern at an appropriate moment and execute
a direct attack just as the defender begins to advance. Fencers reverse roles after each attempted attack.
c. This time the designated defender sets a footwork pattern,
e.g, advance, advance, retreat. Again the pattern should be very simple and limited to no more than four steps. The
attacker uses the defender’s pattern to his or her advantage and attempts to attack on the defender’s advance
with a direct attack. The defender may attempt to avoid the touch with a retreat. Fencers reverse roles after each attempted
d. Utilizing the basic distance-stealing
footwork in the above drills or any other distance-stealing tactics that may have been introduced, the attacker leads footwork
and then may employ a distance-stealing technique to gain critical distance and attack. As soon as the attacker begins to
recover from the lunge the fencers immediately reverse roles so that this becomes a continuous exchange drill.