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Introduction to Fencing 113

Updated on September 15, 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.

Introduction

In fencing, there are several major moves that can lead to a touch. There is an attack, a parry/riposte and a stop thrust. In my opinion, the stop thrust is the most deadly move in epee. I will focus on some stop thrust ideas.

- Sept. 2017

Background

What is a stop thrust? This is one of the defensive actions in fencing. What it is, is like stealing the tempo from an attack. If executed correctly, you can stop your opponent dead in his track.

In a typical bout situation, two fencers will move back and forth trying to gain some advantage. At some point, one fencer will initiate an attack by moving forward towards his opponent. At this point, the opponent has a few options to take. He can retreat and try to keep his distance far from the attacker. This only works if one has room to retreat. Some times, you don't have enough room. If a fencer goes off the strip, he looses the touch. Second, you can stand your ground and attempt a parry follow by a riposte. This is a good option if you can read the attack and know where the attacker is going for. Your parry is an anticipation as to where the attack is coming from and your action will deflect the blade and give you just enough time to follow with a riposte. Finally, there is the stop thrust. This action is not quite like the regular defense. If an attack starts at time 0, and the contact of blade is time 1 and the final touch is time 2, A parry would occur sometimes around 1. In a stop thrust, the action is somewhere happening around 0.5. This requires some guessing on the part of the defender. He must look for some sign that the attacker is about to make his move. By jumping in, in the middle of his attack, he is in effect "stealing" the tempo away. Because it is unexpected, it causes the attacker to stop temporarily in the middle. When executed properly, the stop thrust will literally "stop" the attacker dead in his track.

A typical stop will target the wrist or the forearm. This is the closest target. It is a small target to hit especially when it is in motion. Another technique that allows a stop to be successful is by using the guard to block the attack. The epee guard is larger and covers the whole hand. It is semi-spherical in shape and when the opponent's blade or point hits it, it is deflected away. When a guard is used properly, it acts as a shield protecting the defender while at the same time allow the point to impale the attacker.

There are many variations of the stop thrust. One particular deadly is executed while retreating. This is possible when the attacker is on the move and the defender retreats. Instead of stopping, the attacker thinking he has the upper hand decides to continue the attack by chasing after the defender. At this point, the attacker is vulnerable. He is leaning foward and moving, and trying to hit the defender. The defender, if he time it right, can execute the stop while retreating. Because he is leaning back, he has the advantage of distance. He can try and hit the attacker in the high forearm or shoulder.

Advanced Strategy

One way to counter a stop thrust is called "counter-time". This requires the attacker to anticipate a stop and then when it happens, he quickly perform the action to prevent the stop and score a touch. More details on this in another lecture.

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