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Teaching The Fencing Tactical Plan - Part I

December 22, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Views: 137

Many fencers step up on the strip with only a rudimentary idea of how they intend to beat their opponent. As a result, the fencer is constantly trying to find a way to hit, shifting from technique to technique without a clear plan of how best to deal with the opponent. The cliches that "failing to plan is planning to fail" and "if you have no plan, any outcome is successful" actually do capture the challenge for the fencer. So how do we train fencers to develop a tactical plan for a bout?

First, a caveat. Most fencers at the beginning and intermediate levels will never attempt to plan their bout at any useful level. They either lack the necessary desire or intellectual capacity to be successful. As a coach you have to accept that. The ones who want to learn how to plan the bout, who do plan, and who carry out their plans are the fencers who are worth your efforts to develop them as serious competitors.

The initial step in developing the fencer's ability to plan is developing the ability to see what is happening on the strip. This is a two part process. First, every fencer should spend as much time as possible watching fencing. Video from major competitions, video online, and just sitting watching bouts in the club when not fencing, all contribute to the fencer's ability to see the action.

Second, every fencer should learn the process of refereeing a bout. This is a step-by-step progression: (1) recognizing which fencer originates the attack, (2) identifying whether the opponent's actions deceive, stop, or block the attack, (3) recognizing the opponent's riposte, etc. The fencer must be able to recognize the flow of the bout, and then recognize which specific techniques are in use.In refereeing practice bouts, the fencer's ability to recognize actions is improved when he or she is required to identify how the hit was made, not just make the correct hand signals.

Seeing what is happening is one tool for the critical first step in planning, developing intelligence about the opponent's physical, technical, and tactical capabilities. Other information is equally important.If the fencer, or members of the fencer's club, have met the opponent before in competition, they should have made and shared notes as part of a regular debriefing process after tournaments. The debriefing process is a critical part of every competition. The availability of competition results on FRED provides current information on classification, competitive record, who the opponent has fenced before from your club,what the scores were, etc.Gathering and sharing this data is a significant effort, but even a rough idea of opponent strength can be valuable in planning.

All of this can be modeled and practiced in club competitions. Like all fencing skills, the various steps of making a plan must be practiced until they are automatic. In the next article in this series we will examine how to teach the fencer how to inventory and compare their skills against the opponent's as part of the plan.

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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