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Introduction to Fencing 111

Updated on September 6, 2017
jackclee lm profile image

I am retired and a former epee fencer at CCNY Varsity and USFA. I have achieved the rank of A and have competed in National tournament.


These set of mini lectures are a good start for anyone who wants to learn the basics. If you are serious, I suggest joining a local club and get some private lessons. They are not cheap and a typical lesson of 20-30 minutes will cost $50. It is worth the investment because the practice of timing and reaction can only be learned with a live subject. Good luck.

- Sept. 2017

Frame of Mind

Fencing as a sport is both a physical and a mental game. It is similar to tennis and boxing and some other competitive one-on-one sports. It is important to prepare yourself mentally before each bout.

Have Respect for your opponent – In fencing, before and after the bout, we salute the judges, the director and the opponent. Having respect for your opponent is absolute. No matter how experienced or inexperienced your opponent may be, you need to respect that person.

Be Fair – Part of being a good sportsmanship in fencing is to follow the rules. Follow both the spirit and the legal part of the rules. A sense of fair play must guide you. You want to win but only by your skills and not by cheating.

Control your emotions – don’t let the moment get the best of you. In the heat of a bout, some may loose their temper. Others may get upset by a bad call of a judge. Always maintain your composure and dignity. Even when you loose a bout, shake hands with your opponent and walk away with your head held high.

Present a Cool Front – Never show your opponent your insecurity or doubt. Put up an air of confidence and strength.

Study and remember your opponent – Keep a mental log of each opponent. You will face them again and again in the future. Any information, no matter how small, can give you an advantage.

Block out any distraction – When you walk onto a strip, leave all your thoughts and worries behind. For that next 3 minutes, you are focused on winning.

Take your time – Don’t rush. Especially against a new opponent, and take your time to feel him/her out. Test his/her reactions to certain moves.

Breath – When we are tense or excited, it is hard to control our breathing. We usually don’t need to think about breathing because it happens normally. However, in the middle of a bout, remember to breath. It is oxygen that will give you the energy and the clear mind that will allow you to win. When standing on guard, take a deep breath.

Picture your attack – when you plan your attack, make a mental picture of how you envision it will play out. It will help you in executing the complex moves.

“Psyching out” your opponent – When you start a match, it may be to your advantage to play some head games on your opponent. It may not always work but it can give you an upper hand. It could be as simple as taking an extra second to salute. Or, making a loud noise when you score a clean touch. Or, dropping your guard after the “fence” command by the director. Any unusual move will stop your opponent and make him/her think twice. This slight time delay is all you need sometimes to score a touch. A great example is to go for a toe touch in the very beginning of a bout. Against a formidable opponent, this may just give him enough doubt to hold back. Also, a touch on the wrist will impress him/her that you have great point control.

© 2017 Jack Lee


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