Basic Pointers for All Three Weapons:
(This picture indicates the position of a lunge with both feet on the ground and not rolling the ankle, which causes long term damage to the joints.)
- Balance - Always keep about the same amount of weight on both feet at all times. Yes, there I said it twice. It is very important to not lean back when moving, or to lean way forward when lunging. And don’t rock back and forth while moving.
- Keep Both Feet Flat – Especially when lunging, try to keep both feet flat on the floor. I see too many fencers, even high level ones, drag their back foot on the floor in an effort to get a couple more inches on their attacks. This hampers, to some degree, the recovery, but is also very hard on the Medial Collateral Ligament (the one on the inner side of the knee, the one that holds the knee stable) of the trailing leg. This can lead to pain, reduced range of motion, and even, surgical intervention.
- Pay attention to your Opponent and the Director/Referee – One of my pet peeves is people who score a hit (or think they do) and immediately look at the scoring box to see if it is true. You should fence until the Director calls halt. This bad habit WILL cost you points at a tournament. [Directors (especially new ones) If you are directing a bout, always call HALT in a loud and clear voice to stop action on the strip, for whatever reason. The fencers are counting on you!]
- Learn the Rules – Far too many young students (and older ones, too) don’t know why they do what they do, except that they were told to do so, either by their coaches or other fencers. The Rules seem intimidating, but there are really only about forty pages that a beginning fencer needs to know (presuming only one weapons being learned.) Read the Techical (t.xxx) and Material (m.xx) that apply to All Weapons and to the weapon you are using (Foil, Epee, or Saber). Get a copy of the Penalty Charts (t.140) and keep it in your back pocket for reference. These are the ones you’ll get penalized for, and really should know to not do.