Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Why Fence Dry (or Steam or Standard)?

December 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 197

Today it is widely accepted that fencing without electrical scoring equipment, and especially holding tournaments without electrical scoring, is a waste of time. Such dry fencing (also called standard, or by the British steam, fencing) marks one as thoroughly out of touch with real fencing. Unfortunately, what is widely accepted is simply wrong, and in many ways limits the training of athletes in all three weapons.

First, let me establish that I believe fencing with electric scoring in practice is a key part in preparing for competition. The balance and handling of an electric weapon is different, the supporting electric equipment, especially the lame, imposes physiological loads on the fencer, the timing necessary to success in all three weapons is different. You have to fence electric in order to prepare for electric competition.

However, this is not the complete picture. For example, consider the hit. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has done research on what percentage of hits in electric competition in all three weapons result from accidental factors having little to do with correct mechanical execution of technique. For example, is the hit on the underlying body, or is the hit an accidental tag on a fold of clothing? If the percentage is 10 percent, accidental hits start to account for a significant cumulative number of touches in competition. Training with electric scoring may result in a picture of good enough placement of the hit, a good enough that is significantly vulnerable to swings in outcome based on chance.

At the same time, because the fencer is focused on whether the scoring machine is registering a hit, there may be a tendency not to feel what a good hit feels like. In terms of developing good technique, this is probably not a good thing, especially if the fencer wants to develop good point placement. However, there is a more mundane, but highly significant, outcome. The fencer may become so confident in the reliability of electric scoring that he or she does not realize the weapon has failed when it does in a bout.

I have seen fencers fence for as many as 5 touches in a direct elimination bout without realizing that the hits were not registering because there was no tip in their weapon - the hit was not solid enough, it must have not had enough dwell time on the target, somehow it hit outside the timing parameters of the scoring machine, etc.... any excuse was accepted in preference to realizing at the first hit that there was a technical problem. Because dry fencing is a more tactile experience, it promotes a good understanding of what is a light hit that might not trigger a light, a solid hit that should light up the scoring machine, and a graze that should not result in a hit. If we train for high probability hits, dry fencing can help that training.

Throughput on the fencing floor is another issue. It is not unusual for an electric bout to consume as much time in putting on equipment, testing, identifying and replacing equipment when it fails, etc., as the actual fencing requires. If your goal is bouts for training, with more bouts imposing increased training overload on the athletes, throughput (the number of bouts fenced per strip per hour) becomes an issue. Every year my Salle fences Fence Til You Drop, an informal and self-refereed tournament on New Year's Day, in which the goal is to fence the most dry bouts in two hours - last year the winning two fencers fenced 52 bouts each, and that was with getting off the strip after each bout so that others could fight.

Finally, the loss of judges has created a generation of fencers who do not have the building blocks for developing referee skills or an understanding of the referee's task level. In the 1960s and 1970s and even through the last years of dry sabre, fencers grew up judging and refereeing in the pools in which they were fencing. We were socialized to the difficulty of seeing and describing the action, and, even though we harassed referees, we had a level of sympathy for how hard the job is. More importantly we learned why referees called actions the way they did through watching and listening, and we learned a lot about recognizing opponent's actions on the strip.

Today, electrical scoring creates the impression that fencing is an objective sport. It is not - fencers compete in an environment dominated by the subjective interpretation of matters of fact by referees. Dry bouts have value in training specifically because they are even more subjective. Frustration over judges missing hits is not a bad thing if we wish to develop the ability to maintain focus in the face of bad calls and to adjust technique to the capabilities of the referee and the scoring system.

There are many good reasons to fence training bouts with electrical scoring - it is always desirable to practice the way you will fight in competition. However, there are also good reasons to keep dry training bouts and internal competitions specifically as a part of the training repertoire. Coaches and fencers should identify specific outcomes for each type of activity, electric or dry, and use the most appropriate tool for the training task.

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
Was this Helpful ?

 
0
 
0
 
Rate this Article
 vote(s)
Feedback
Print
Re-Publish

Article Tags:

Dry Fencing

,

Fencing

,

Fencing Training

LED boat trailer lights are designed to offer high-power output and low-power consumption for ultra-bright and reliable illumination; they are sealed to resist UV-radiation, corrosion, and water

By: Simon Liva l Recreation & Sports > Boating l December 12, 2012 lViews: 274

All these scooters are highly durable as they have been made using qualitative materials. They are ideal for extreme tricks, jumps and stunts for youngsters and are extremely light in weight. All

By: Simon Liva l Recreation & Sports > Extreme l November 24, 2012 lViews: 413

The interest in BMXing has grown massively over the past few years. With BMX hitting its peak in the 80's with freestyle riders, the sport has never looked back. Even more impressively BMX racing is

By: Alan Trotter l Recreation & Sports > Cycling l October 24, 2012 lViews: 452

Mountain biking has grown vastly over the years from simple, open entry competitions to global world cup and olympic events. There are still local enthusiasts and the sport has a dedicated following.

By: Philip Loughran l Recreation & Sports > Mountain Biking l July 10, 2012 lViews: 248

It's unfortunate but true that although summer holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day offer some of the best opportunities for families to get out and enjoy some quality time together, with

By: Dexter Luck l Recreation & Sports > Boating l July 10, 2012 lViews: 585

The term "Klunker" that for years became synonymous with heavy, clumsy machines, was actually the model of bike made by the Schwinn company that had something to do with the origins of freestyle

By: John D Meyers l Recreation & Sports > Mountain Biking l July 10, 2012 lViews: 270

Team fencing is a complex, yet fun way to train and compete in the sport of fencing. There are three distinct types of team fencing. Each is great for stamina training and all are good competitive

By: Elizabeth Armstrongl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl March 13, 2012 lViews: 198

Fencing bags come in multiple styles, sizes, and quality levels. Choosing a fencing bag that suits both budget and storage needs requires a fencer to consider a number of factors prior to making a

By: Elizabeth Armstrongl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl February 12, 2012 lViews: 201

As a new fencer, your first fencing competition can be a bit overwhelming. It is always a beehive of activity. Other fencers will help but are often very busy getting themselves prepared for the

By: Elizabeth Armstrongl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl January 02, 2012 lViews: 184

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,

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl January 01, 2012 lViews: 184

Countertime actions are what their name implies - actions against time actions employed by your opponent on the fencing strip. Traditional views of countertime often define these actions in terms of

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl October 23, 2011 lViews: 170

Second Intention actions in fencing are intended to create the impression that they are first intention, and then to hit on second intention. So what is first and what is second intention? First

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl October 16, 2011 lViews: 205

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,

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl January 01, 2012 lViews: 184

Countertime actions are what their name implies - actions against time actions employed by your opponent on the fencing strip. Traditional views of countertime often define these actions in terms of

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl October 23, 2011 lViews: 170

Second Intention actions in fencing are intended to create the impression that they are first intention, and then to hit on second intention. So what is first and what is second intention? First

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl October 16, 2011 lViews: 205

Conventional wisdom among fencers and fencing coaches often holds that the way to win fencing tournaments is to win more bouts and that the way to win more bouts is to score more touches. On the face

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl March 05, 2011 lViews: 132

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

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl December 22, 2010 lViews: 137

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

By: Walter Greenl Recreation & Sports > Fencingl December 22, 2010 lViews: 135