1, A Bent Foot. The bent leading foot is generally the most
common characteristic of a beginning fencer. It is natural for the foot
to bend or twist inward in the en garde position. This
tends to automatically move the attack direction, and the point of the
blade, off target toward the left (for a right-handed fencer). In addition,
the lunge extension tends to become off balance, make it difficult to
recover from the lunge.
2. An Excessively Bent Arm. This is another common problem.
Too much bend in the arm requires more motion in the extension to a
straight arm for the attack, and this takes valuable time. An arm movement
has much more inertia than a hand movement and is therefore generally
much slower. The elbow of an inexperienced fencer is often bent, thus
bringing the blade much too close to the body, which requires much more
motion and time in the thrust. It also leads to less accuracy in placing
3. A Tight Fist. This is one of the first things that a fencing
master will try to correct. A tight fist locks the hand an wrist to
the arm, making various movements slow and difficult. As the hand tightens,
the wrist and arm also tend to tighten.
4. Elbow Out. An elbow projecting outward from the body is a
sure sign of an inexperienced (or poorly trained) fencer. It inevitably
leads to the point going off target. In epee and saber, it becomes a
great target for the opponent.
5. Bent Wrist. This is almost as faulty as the Elbow Out, although
the inertia is lower. The blade and arm must be brought in line with
the target, by first straightening the wrist, for the thrust to hit
the target accurately. The director of a match will be looking for a
thrust with the point in line with the target in order to grant "right-of-way".
6. Full Open Body position. The full open body, with the shoulders
off-line of the target, has several disadvantages. For one,
it opens up the full width of the torso for a direct attack. Secondly,
the body must be twisted sideways for the full lunge, which takes additional
time and motion. Some good fencers do utilize this position, but most
all great fencers have both shoulders nearly fully in line with
the target. This can be a little uncomfortable at first, but
you can get used to it.
7. Poor Balance:. The body weight should rest on the left
foot for a right-handed person. The left arm position
is important for balance and recovery from the lunge. The obvious indicators
are: palm, fingers or arm pointed downward. The most experienced fencers
use a left arm position with the palm upward and the arm toward the
rear. In foil, an advantageous position is with the left arm is bent
upward and the fingers pointing forward, in line with the weapon arm.
A little additional forward motion is obtained by the extension of the
left arm at the end of the lunge.
7. Difficulty in Recovering from the Lunge. A poor lunge leaves
the fencer off balance and makes it difficult to return to the en garde
position. A fast recovery is necessary when the attack fails. The causes
are generally due to the bent right foot, fully exposed body position
and/or the knee not directly above the foot when en garde. If the lunge
is executed properly, a second lunge can be executed directly from a
full lunge extension!
8. Running Into the Opponent. This will happen to any fencer
on occasion, since both fencers can cause a collision. However, when
this continually occurs, it is a sign of improper control of distance
and timing that is typical of a new fencer. For the most part, stay
back! Keep slightly out of distance and close the distance when you
choose to do so.