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Fencing Speed Bouts

January 01, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 183

The speed of fencing bouts has increased over the years, and at the same time the amount of time allowed for the bout has decreased. Today the standard for pool bouts is 3 minutes of fencing time, down from the 6 minutes for men's weapons and 5 minutes for women's foil that were the rule when I started to fence in the 1960s. Although 3 minutes seems like not much time, almost no sabre bouts require the full 3 minutes, relatively few bouts go the full time in foil, with epee probably having the greatest number of bouts that run the full time limit. That suggests that, although the 3 minute limit is important in training, shorter times may have benefits as well. Enter the speed bout.

In the 2008 Olympics, Hungary was down 19 to 33 for the United States in Women's Foil, when the Hungarian foilist Mohamed Aida stepped onto the strip for the last period of the team match. She ran an amazing 14 touches for only 2 answering touches in 3 minutes, or 4.7 touches per minute with a 7 to 1 ratio. Hungary lost 33 to 35, but Aida's performance almost won the day for her country. In individual 15 touch bouts, with a regulation fencing time of 9 minutes, the fastest time to win with 15 touches was 21 seconds in sabre to 4 minutes 31 seconds for epee. The ability to fence fast when you are down is obviously critical in team events, and fencers in individual events have to be prepared to be equally quick.

One of the best ways to train to fence bouts is to fence practice bouts, a lot of them. Therefore, it seems logical that one of the best ways to learn to fence fast when time is important is to fence fast bouts. I have found two approaches useful.

First, impose a time limit on practice bouts fenced without a referee. Instead of using fencing time, the time between the commands to fence and to halt, use an actual time limit the same as the bout's fencing time limit. From the first "fence" to the last "halt" is 3 minutes, including time spent walking back to the on guard line, adjusting the mask, discussing whose touch it is, etc. Using an organized rotation, this can be made into the fencing equivalent of speed dating, moving fencers on to new opponents every 3 minutes.

When you first do this, the high score in 3 minute bouts will drop from 5 to 3, or even 2, especially among intermediates without tournament experience. However, the fencers will adjust to the reduced fencing time by fencing faster and eliminating time wasters that eat up practice time.

Second, fence for a maximum number of bouts in a set time period. My Salle runs Fence Til You Drop as a fun event each January 1st, with the rule that the winner is the fencer who fences the most bouts, won or lost, in 2 hours. Because the objective is to get people moving after the doldrums of the Christmas-New Year holiday season, we do not worry about the won-loss ratio or indicators. However, these would be easy enough to add to the equation to more closely model competition, and to eliminate losing as quickly as possible as a strategy. To increase throughput we fence dry - the record set in January 2012 is 75 bouts in 120 minutes.

These approaches may be useful as part of a training program. They should not be the only way in which your fencers fence bouts. The standard competition pool and direct elimination bouts have a tactical rhythm to them that depends on the interval between halt and fence to plan the next touch. Being able to manipulate that interval with delaying techniques has always been an important part of bout tactics. However, the speed bout prepares fencers for the specific case when time is limited and touch production must be rapid, and it may contribute to athlete conditioning and increase bout throughput in your practice sessions. As such it should be in the fencing master's technical repertoire.

Walter Green is a Maitre d'Armes (Fencing Master) certified by the Academie d'Armes Internationale. He teaches modern competitive and classical fencing, historical swordplay, bayonet fencing, and Asian martial arts swords at Salle Green ( http://www.sallegreen.com ), the fencing school he operates in Glen Allen, Virginia. Maitre Green also trains fencing coaches through the Pan American Fencing Academy ( http://panamfencing.com ). He serves as a Head Examiner for the certification of professional fencing coaches for the United States Fencing Coaches Association, and chairs the USFCA's Club Committee.

Copyright 2010 by Walter G. Green III. All rights reserved.

Source: EzineArticles
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