The Fencing Lesson
The one on one individual lesson is the best opportunity to develop a fencer’s mechanics and skills. The rapport between coach and pupil allows for variation, experimentation and exchange thereby honing the pupil’s ability to cope with a wide range of actions and manoeuvres. The coach doubles as teacher and sparring partner, much as does a boxing trainer and the boxer. He submits bout situations, sometimes accommodating, sometimes surprising, and varying the degree of difficulty and changes in tempo. The traditional character of the duel is maintained with a combative style lesson involving fault finding, correction and athleticism.
The lesson is very much a developer, physically as well as mentally. It should be maintained continually for at least 12 to 15 minutes in order to obtain a cardio-vascular training effect. The intensive bouts usually following the individual lesson, ensures that the fitness quotient is built into the fencer’s routine. In the off season, some fencers add an isotonic and or an athletic component to their programme. Quite often fencers reflect their coach’s attitudes and techniques, but their mannerisms and personalities remain, as every single fencer has his own idiosyncrasies, characteristics, and temperament.
It is worth remembering that, for a fencing coach giving lessons intensively, one after another in a training session, the mental and physical effort is energy sapping in the extreme. A few coaches retire prematurely from the stress, while others continue until they drop. Coaching can be an addiction (There is no other way to describe it).There also is a saying, “old fencing masters like old soldiers never die” but the young ones wish they would.
Sometimes the question arises, why coach at all? The answer is that to coach talent, and be part of the reasons for the unfolding of skills, is enormously creative and rewarding.
Lesson presentation mechanics:
1. Cues, contacts, pressures, invitations, openings etc.
2. Presentation of the blade, emphasising point proximity to target
3. Rock step and dismissal of the blade
1. The lesson must simulate the bout
2. The lesson must be mobile and a sense of distance emphasised
3. The lesson must have continuity
4. Conditioning of exchange reflexes
5. Control of the point
6. Manipulative and point passing skills developed
7. Anticipation, and ability to identify and correct faults
8. Enhancement of touch and feeling for the blade
9. Proximity of point in presentations
10. Appreciation of touch, timing, cadence and rhythm