ELEMENTARY CONCEPTION OF MOTOR RESPONSES IN FENCING.
from Understanding Fencing, By Prof.
All physical exercises,
movements, strokes, and actions which are the form and content of various disciplines of sport, display certain traits which
are characteristic of conscious, voluntary activity. Such activity occurs most often in the form of sensory motor response
commonly called reaction.
is a responsive action: it is a reply in which one knows or foresees a stimulus which is about to occur and for which one
prepares an adequate response in a specific way. Take, for example, the sprinter's start. The athlete knows the aim of his
movements, he knows how to execute them, and he knows the stimulus. He is waiting for the stimulus: the pistol shot. To this
known signal, he responds with a well known, well learned, and often repeated movement the start. Another example of simple
reaction: in a sabre lesson, the fencing master commands, "On my opening change of position from quinte to
seconde you execute direct cut to head." The beginning of the fencing master's movement acts as a signal
for the execution of the cut to the head.
Before I go into further discussion
on sensory motor responses and their application in fencing, I shall try to present a simplified scheme of the most important
processes of reaction.
PREPATRY PERIOD->LATENT PERIOD->EXECUTORY PERIOD
(Execution of a Given Stroke)
of reaction consists of:
1. Receiving a known conventional stimulus
2. Appreciation, or realization, of the stimulus.
3. Execution of the appropriate movements.
We can distinguish three periods of sensory motor response:
1. Preparatory period, which contains:
for the stimulus and
b) preparation for an appropriate movement.
2. Latent, or central, period.
3. Executive, or final, period.
The latent period of reaction, lasting from the appearance of the stimulus to the beginning
of the action, takes a very short time but it is very important, indeed. It strongly influences the speed and manner of execution
of a movement or action. The athlete is still immobile, but very dynamic and important processes are taking place in his brain
The latent period may be divided into:
1. Sensory part of the latent period of reaction: receiving the stimulus (signal).
2. Associative part of the latent period: realization that this is the stimulus
3. Motor part of latent period: excitation of the motor
area of the cortex and a flow of motor impulses along the nerves to the appropriate muscles.
The executive (or final) period of reaction consists of the time from the beginning of the movement
(action) to its completion. It is visible and therefore appears, to a superficial observer, to be the most important phase.
It should be understood, however, that the actual movement is prepared by, and depends on, the first and second periods of
A motor response is a sensory motor skill (motor habit), executed
and applied as a reaction to a stimulus. Figure 5.1 on page 91, depicts a simple model of a sensory motor response.
The preparatory period lasts from the signal, "attention" (or situation which
causes an increase of attention), to the appearance of the stimulus.
latent period lasts from the appearance of stimulus to the beginning of movement.
The executory period lasts from the beginning of movement to its completion.
When we say "reaction time," we mean the time of the latent period.
The time of motor response comprises the time of the latent period and the time of the execution of
Most autorsdistinguish and describe only simple choicie,
and differential reaction. In my opinion, however, we must distinguish seven varieties of motor responses: simple reaction,
choice reaction, differential reaction, reaction to a moving object, switch over reaction, intuitive reaction, and reaction
to a pre signal. All these varieties of motor responses are very important in fencing and other combat sports, as well as
in team games. In fencing, they form the basis of various technical tactical capabilities, like control of distance and choice
of footwork, recognition of the threatened line, choice between parry and stop hit, choice of the appropriate parry, intuitive
choice of an action, and the ability to change one's intention during a foreseen action as a reply to the opponent's unexpected
movement, etc. The most important varieties are: simple motor response and choice motor response.
SIMPLE MOTOR RESPONSE.
The essence of simple reaction is: a known, foreseen stimulus/a
known, foreseen response. For example: in a laboratory, on the appearance of a red light, you must press a button; in a fencing
lesson, when the coach announces, "On my step forward (the known, expected stimulus), you execute direct attack with
lunge (foreseen response)"; in a fencing bout, when one expects or provokes a given movement by the opponent and reacts
to it with a previously foreseen and planned action.
Figure 5.2 on page
92, shows the structure and essence of simple reaction. In simple motor response, the process of reaction is not very complicated.
There is only one well known stimulus (signal) to which one replies with one well known foreseen movement. In the preparatory
part of simple response, two important psychological processes occur: a) waiting for the expected stimulus (signal) and b)
preparing the reply: motor program of a foreseen action.
observation and laboratory experiments, it has been found that there are three main types of simple motor response:
differences lie in the preparatory period. The noted differences have an impact on the latent and executory periods of reaction
and above all on the duration of the latent period.