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How and Why Excellent Footwork Leads to Incredible Fencing Moves

Posted on August 11th, 2015 at 11:37 am, in Fencing Improvement

Originally posted at Fencing University (click the link below to read the full story!):
Fencing University – Daryl Homer’s Incredible Footwork

To start with, fencing is a game of positioning, and footwork is the mechanism that positions you to properly make any successful move, from attacking to defending. If you don’t have good footwork, even if you have a good sense of distance, you will find yourself unable to get yourself into the right position and unable to complete successful moves consistently.

There are many aspects to footwork that require mastery to achieve greatness, but there are a few things that may surprise you:

1) Proper footwork is controlled footwork. A lot of people think that faster footwork is better footwork. This couldn’t be more incorrect. 4-time Olympic coach Yury Gelman has a saying “Good speed is speed if you can control it. If not you are stu-peed.” Say what? Ok, it did take me a year to figure out what he meant, but it was an important point and I’m here to interpret!

What Yury meant was that you have to have to have a fencing speed that allows you to see what is happening and then respond in the right time. For example, a lot of fencers get locked into an advance lunge because they are going too fast. If their opponent retreats, they either can’t see their opponent is no longer in range or they see it but can’t adjust to make the second or third step because they are going too fast.

 2) The best footwork is simple. Great fencers work hard to remove all the hitches, kinks and extra movements from their footwork. Even a small extra movement tells your opponent what you’re doing. Fencing is played with the mind and the body, but you can’t let your body give away what your brain has planned! Having fluid and efficient movement is essential.

3) Good footwork overcomes bad strategy. If you can move well, you can fall back on good footwork when other things aren’t going your way. It’s better to have good footwork and a mediocre strategy than vice versa.

Mastering footwork takes time, effort and focus, but it is absolutely essential for fencing success. There is no point in trying to fly through the air to take a parry if you don’t have down the basics. Bad footwork habits are one of the biggest stumbling blocks that inhibit a fencer’s ability to improve.

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