Here are some suggestions that may help when your opponent has found
an attack that is getting touches.
1. Maintain your composure
Easy to say, not so easy to do. It is
natural to become concerned when a stressful situation occurs. Under
such circumstances, it is also natural to overdo. In many sports,
the result is that an athlete tries to do things that are faster than
normal and beyond one's capability - - to 'hurry up'. For instance,
your disengage may occur without the full preliminary feint under such
circumstances. Without the proper feint, the chances are that your opponent
will not try to parry, and the disengage will not work. Once you know
that this can happen, you are one step up on the problem and can take
steps to minimize it.
1. Change your blade position
There are several ways to do this. A slight move from the initial position
of the arm toward the final attack area where your opponent is scoring
touches can save time and effort. For instance, if you are getting hit
on the flank, move the blade toward the flank in the en garde position.
A minor movement of the arm is preferable, and too much arm movement
can result in an invitation (the use of the invitation is discussed
below). Arm movements are slow movements, so moving the blade closer
to where your opponent's blade ends up yields a definite time advantage.
Left-handed fencers generally prefer with feints and attacks to the
flank, so a blade position towards the flank may help.
2. Try an "invitation"
The invitation involves the arm, blade and wrist positions such
that it invites an attack in a certain area where you are prepared
to counter the attack. The most desirable area to move your blade towards
may be opposite from where you are getting hit so that the en
garde position of his blade is drawn away from it. The parry seconde
is a very powerful parry, so opening up the lower flank invites an simple
attack to that target. The hand is in pronation, so you may want to
begin with that hand position, which can also save some time in the
parry. On the other hand, if the opponent is hitting you with a low
line attack to the flank, that is his favorite target, and you can also
try closing the line in the lower flank. Closing the line sometimes
affects the opponent's strategy, when he sees that there is not much
target to aim at. I have found that this tactic works well against fencers
who are using the Russian style of attacking low line.
3. Move your position on the strip
A good example of making a change in position work is for the case
of a left-handed fencer. Strangely enough, his weak area is generally
his left flank, and many left-handers tend to move the blade toward
their flank area. Therefore, a position towards your right on the
strip can help, since your opponent can only go so far to his left.
This allows you a better opportunity to hit his flank, since he can't
move much further to his left in order to avoid the attack. I believe
that the reason this works is that the left-hander's main advantage
is for an opponent's attack toward the stomach area. Note that the director
will require you to begin in the middle of the strip, but you can quickly
move to one side or the other after the command to begin fencing has
4. How to handle the fleche
If the fleche is allowed in your type of weapon, then it may very well
be the first movement of your opponent after the command to begin fencing.
There are several things that you can experiment with in order to counter
the fleche. One method is to thrust into the attack, which can
produce a hesitation in the attack of your opponent. This doesn't work
well against beginning fencers, since their reactions are not yet entrained.
However, even highly trained experienced fencers may react by slowing
their attack or even halting it. I have seen this tactic used successfully
in the finals of the Nationals. A second possibility is to keep your
blade in motion, with slight movements to one side or the other,
up or down. The attacker has to follow these movements, and he may run
out of time trying to follow them during his attack. A third possibility
is to move your body out of line near the end of the attack.
In one saber match, my opponent and I were tied at four-all (la belle).
Fleches were allowed then, and he ran toward me with an attack to my
head (he had used this attack successfully earlier). I dropped down
into a crouch (not a full pasada soto) and did a stop thrust.
My brand new blade hit his stomach and broke into three pieces. Even
though I won the bout, I was more concerned about the loss of my new
blade. I used a similar tactic successfully in a foil match against
an experienced and capable Southern California fencer whom I respected.
It was his third touch and he was ahead, but he was so affected by missing
me completely in his attack that he lost his composure.
(Watch for future additions to this section)