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Teaching The Fencing Tactical Plan - Part II

December 22, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Views: 134

In the first article in this series I introduced the process of teaching the tactical plan for a fencing bout by stressing the importance of teaching the fencer how to gather information through observation and data gathering and sharing in the club. The next step in developing the plan is for the fencer to make an inventory of their skills and abilities and compare them to the opponent's capabilities.

The process of teaching fencers to do this starts in a beginner's class. At the start of every beginner's class I ask my students to list the skills they have been taught. At the start of intermediate training sessions I ask what techniques we learned or reviewed in the last training session. This questioning process helps the fencer recall and understand the variety of technical tools they have available.

The whole list, however, is not the actual set the fencer will use in competition. Most fencers have a smaller subset of offensive, defensive, counteroffensive, and footwork actions which they believe work for them and in which they have confidence. The next step in the process is to ask the fencer which techniques he or she believes they will be able to use in a bout.

Now the fencer is in a position to compare capabilities. The following questions need to be learned and used to help develop the baseline for tactical choices:

... is the opponent taller, shorter, the same height, with long or short legs or arms?

... is the opponent same hand or opposite hand?

... does the opponent appear to be relatively faster or slower or the same in movement and bladework speed?

... how does the opponent predominantly fight - offensive, defensive, counteroffensive?

... what are the opponent's favorite actions?

... how does the opponent use the available terrain on the strip?

... are there patterns to the opponent's actions?

The fencer then has to learn to apply the same set of questions, honestly and accurately, to his or her own game. The answers meet in a comparison which highlights for the fencer areas of advantage and areas of disadvantage.

This is my list; other coaches may have different and equally valid lists of questions. The important thing is to teach the fencer to have an organized means of assessing the opponent, because this assessment will give the fencer the framework for developing the plan. For example, an opponent who is taller, with long legs and arms, is of the opposite hand, and is faster is a nightmare in the making. But if that opponent has two attacks, a straight thrust into 6th and a disengage into 4th, and does not parry and counterriposte effectively, my assessment that my 6th and circular 6th parries are very good and my riposte fast and accurate significantly reduces the level of concern.

This process has to be taught. One way to start doing so is to give fencers a worksheet before each practice bout, and require them to answer the questions first in writing, and then transitioning to orally. After the assessments are being done smoothly orally, take away the worksheets, and have the fencers answer the questions from memory.

The data gathering stage of the planning process gives the fencer a picture opponent. The assessment stage highlights the fencer's and the opponent's strengths and weaknesses. In the next article in this series we will examine the actual plan and how to teach its use.

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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