Sunday, April 19, 2020

Fencing At Home

So we’re in a pretty weird time. Around the world people are stuck at home, limiting their activities, keeping distance from one another. When I was running our Division’s National Qualifier we had to begin using the new rule of saluting with no handshake and minimizing fencer contact with paperwork. That didn’t last long because pretty quickly everything shut down. Quickly enough that no one had time to respond or plan for it. So many of us are still trying to find ways to keep up with fencing and keep athletes ready for the new season once things go back to normal.
          The first thing we can do is keep working out. Fencing provides a work out, but even when we’re in our clubs and on the strip we need to do a lot of additional work out activities if we want to be competitive and successful. So now that we aren’t in our clubs we need to make sure we’re working out even more. Most areas still allow people to go out for runs so keep that up. Otherwise at home work outs.
          With the at home work outs we should get some home drills in too. I’ve been doing Zoom classes for my students where we talk about the mental end of fencing stuff. One of my students warmed up for class today by running while we waited for his teammates, when the team did a social chat he had his golf ball and was working on point control while on the chat. This is a great commitment.
So lets go over some drill ideas.

Foil and Epee

Point Control

The easy obvious one is a golf ball. If you don’t want to set up a permanent hook from which to hang a golf ball you can get a command hook with removable double sided tape to temporarily attached to the ceiling. You’ll need an eye hook and rope. Drill a hole in the golf ball for the eye hook, and tie the rope between the eye hook and the hook from the ceiling.

Start off at lunge distance. For a lot of drills we begin close and move further out, but an extension distance doesn’t give you room to aim until you start to get your point control down.

Lunge, hit the ball, stay in the lunge, and manipulate the tip with your fingers so that you can hit the ball a second time as it swings back. The remise hit will allow you to focus on fine control a little more.

Once you have that down move to an advance lunge. Once you’ve got that will you can try from an extension distance, or an extension with an advance. Or try moving in and out and lunging.

If you can’t set up a golf ball you can set up a target. Some scrap leather framed with some padding will work, but to go a simpler route take a spare pillow and some tape. Make some cross marks on the pillow with the tape and set it against a wall and use the crosses as targets.

Epeeists if you have an old shoe tape it to the floor or put a weight in the shoe. Something to hold it down. You can work on point control hitting the toe of the shoe. Again, add movement back and forth,  then add making a feint to an imaginary wrist and drop to the toe.  


When I learned to make disengages they told us to practice with door knobs. It’s still a decent option. Take your weapon extend and move the tip under the knob from one-side to the other. Make sure the movement is done by manipulating the grip with your fingers only so it stays a small motion. You can add the double, or the completed circle, by practicing rotating in a single direction fully around the door knob. Then try the other direction.


Set a mask on the back of a chair from an extension distance make a cut to the left side of the mask and then recut from the fingers. Rotate the hand to the top of the head and cut from the fingers and then recut again. Rotate again to the right side cut from the fingers and then recut. Make the same rotation going back. The idea is from the extension to develop quick sharp small finger motions in a controlled fashion.

If you can situate the mask roughly the height of the head of someone standing en garde you can practice making head cuts. Begin at an extension distance, then advance with extension, then lunge, then advance lunge and double advance lunge. Then add back and forth movement. Then if there is room add a recovery with a distance pull.

You can also combine moving with the head cut and the double tap rotation. Move in and out and then lunge in and make the cut rotation sequence once then recover and retreat back to your movement and repeat.

Thanks for reading. Try these out, post in the comments about how it goes and about how you’re keeping your head in the game.

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