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Thread: Need help on Epee Training techniques

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    Need help on Epee Training techniques

    Okay so I am quite new to fencing, i have been fencing for about a month or two ish, the footwork i have down and im starting to see openings and such in matches, but what i need help is having the ability to know if im in range or not. I have long arms as it is, but having to hold a 3 foot blade added to it is making it hard on me. Any tips on other than just attaching a giant 3footlong towel doil to my hand?

    Thank you

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    Senior Member D+F+P=Hadouken!'s Avatar
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    If you're having trouble holding the blade, you need to get on a strength training regimen. About footwork though.... you'll never be able to do enough. If you think you have it "down" you're wrong. You need to practice it alot, and refine it.

    Judging the distance is often a matter of experience, and it depends on your perception of your opponents footwork, as well as your own. Against some begginers, I am "in distance" with my torso 2 feet from their tip, and against some good fencers, 10 feet of distance isnt far enough. Footwork will allow you to be at the right place at the right time, and when that time comes, your perception of distance will not matter. You will be the distance.
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. And from this side only! The flight of a half-man, half-bird. Dinosaurs nuzzling their young in pastures where strip malls should be. Cookies on dowels. All those moment, lost in time. Gone, like eggs off a hooker's stomach. Time to die" -Phil Ken Sebben

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    My grip is fine, and my footwork is getting there i agree we work on it everyday. So are you saying that pointcontrol isnt as important comepared to footwork?

    and a drill to work on point control i was told by my coach to hang a tennis ball by a string in my doorway, how does that sound?

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    Senior Member D+F+P=Hadouken!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skeletorsnell
    My grip is fine, and my footwork is getting there i agree we work on it everyday. So are you saying that pointcontrol isnt as important comepared to footwork?

    and a drill to work on point control i was told by my coach to hang a tennis ball by a string in my doorway, how does that sound?
    As far as point control goes, if your footwork is good, you won't need it. It wouldnt hurt though. The tennis ball in a door way is a good drill for building point control. Concentrate on quantity over quantity though. Its so easy to get in the habit of wildy poking at the ball, but you don't want that. You want to practice hitting, not missing.
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. And from this side only! The flight of a half-man, half-bird. Dinosaurs nuzzling their young in pastures where strip malls should be. Cookies on dowels. All those moment, lost in time. Gone, like eggs off a hooker's stomach. Time to die" -Phil Ken Sebben

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    Senior Member veeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skeletorsnell
    but what i need help is having the ability to know if im in range or not. I have long arms as it is, but having to hold a 3 foot blade added to it is making it hard on me. Any tips on other than just attaching a giant 3footlong towel doil to my hand?
    You are in range when you can hit your opponent. It may sound a little dumb to say that, but there isn't any other definition that I can think of. What "you can hit your opponent" means is a lot different on the person in front of you, how they react and what your body can or cannot do.

    Basically, as it was said above, it comes with experience. You just need to get a lot of lessons, drills and fencing under your belt to feel comfortable to know you can hit someone when you want to.
    • Epee is the Louis Vuitton bag of fencing: only the best can get it, and the rest of the masses must content themselves with cheap knockoffs (sabre, foil)
    • To not recognize the power of the French grip is to be in denial

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    Senior Member needle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skeletorsnell
    and a drill to work on point control i was told by my coach to hang a tennis ball by a string in my doorway, how does that sound?
    Golf ball is even better. Hit it with extension, lunge, advance lunge, jump lunge, then same with beat or parry before extension. When you hit it so it swings straight away from you, keep your extension and catch the ball as it swings back.
    Cross me and you'll find that under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac. ~Blackadder
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    Gav
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    You are worrying about the wrong things.

    Practise your footwork. Practise the basics. Do more footwork. Watch other fencers and take note - especially of the experienced ones.

    Practise dissassociating your arm from your leg.

    Do footwork.

    Worry about hitting people later. A sense of distance will come with time. At the moment you are very naive - in fencing terms. Eventually this naivety will wear off so be patient. There will come a time when you will not be thinking about how far away the other guy is.

    Until then practise your footwork. Practise the basics. Enjoy fencing.
    Last edited by Gav; 11-02-2005 at 03:38 PM.

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    I am not convinced that the tennis ball/golf ball/marble on a string approach to improving point control time honored as good advice is worthwhile at all. It fails to promote the natural extension of the arm, and fencers who do a lot of these drills seem to poke at targets rather than make the smooth extensions that they really need.

    Probably the best way to improve point control without taking lessons is in exchange drills with other epee fencers. The drills can be very simple: one fencer is passive and the other fencer is attacking to the hand. (The passive fencer can slip a cheap knee pad or some other protection over their hand so it does not get too abused.)

    The drill can start with the passive fencer standing in on guard and the active fencer making extension, extension with advance, and extension with lunge. After a few minutes of this, switch roles. Later, the passive fencer can start a late counter-attack to make the drill more realistic. The addition of some simple movement throws distance into the mix, as well as point control. Attacks can also be done with beats, remises, the passive fencer attempting to find the blade, and so on.

    With a little imagination a lot of good training can be built on this simple drill. The only difficulty is in finding another fencer willing to join you in working hard to improve.

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    ...and what Gav said. Good advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Evans
    With a little imagination a lot of good training can be built on this simple drill. The only difficulty is in finding another fencer willing to join you in working hard to improve.
    ... this is the thing that has never ceased to amaze me - how few fencers, in whichever weapon, are willing to spend time drilling.

    Asking soemone to do footwork drills generally gets the same response as a request to perform ungodly acts (fencers being such a straight laced bunch).

    But on topics Gav's advice is spot on.
    au revoir

  11. #11
    Senior Member needle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Evans
    I am not convinced that the tennis ball/golf ball/marble on a string approach to improving point control time honored as good advice is worthwhile at all. It fails to promote the natural extension of the arm, and fencers who do a lot of these drills seem to poke at targets rather than make the smooth extensions that they really need.
    Very good point. Nothing beats having a live partner to practice with and almost every "substitute" has negative effects to watch for. Knowing what these effects are helps to avoid them. In this case, a mirror to watch your actions (or if you are really into gadgets, videotapig your exercises and reviewing them later) could help recognize and avoid "poking". At this point, don't try to be fast, but try to do it correctly.
    Cross me and you'll find that under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac. ~Blackadder
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    Hi,

    I hate to start off forum life with a contentious post, but I've had a modest amount of success training beginning fencers up to their first competition and frankly this topic interests me. I'm going to advocate a drill that ignores footwork and point control, in favor of developing an intuitive understanding of distance. Here is that horrible suggestion in terms of classical teaching technique, one that leads rather directly to improved performance.

    If you're taller than your opponent (ie. have a longer reach), stick out your arm with the point aimed down and in towards their elbow to upper arm. You arm should be fully extended but relaxed enough that you can depress the point by gripping your weapon. *Walk* back and forth on the strip keeping your weapon ahead of you and on their target at all times. At your level the opponent will get frustrated and attack. If they hit your blade out of the way, step back, if not wait for them to impale themselves. You will rapidly gain an understanding of just when they can hit you, and you can hit them.

    I know it seems odd to forgo the engarde, and footwork, but that's just formalism that is there to help you develop a simple defense, and enough balance and body consciousness to avoid injury. It does not directly lead to an understanding of distance, tempo, or a sense of threat from your opponent. Which is as far as I'm concerned the core of any fencing game, and all to often ignored in favor of training individual classical techniques.

    -DAC

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    I'm wondering, in this drill, what the shorter fencer learns?

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAgeCat
    I know it seems odd to forgo the engarde, and footwork, but that's just formalism that is there to help you develop a simple defense, and enough balance and body consciousness to avoid injury. It does not directly lead to an understanding of distance, tempo, or a sense of threat from your opponent.
    It seems more than "odd" to me, it seems completely backward to not give a fencer the tools they are going to need to fence, and simply try to show them how to "out reach" their opponent. I'm also unclear where the lesson in tempo is in this exercise. The drill seems to be a simple lesson in the fact that one person's arms are often longer than anothers.

    As a one time exercise to illustrate a lesson ("Your opponent must always come past your point to hit you") it has some merit. But I certainly wouldn't use this as a drill.

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    I'm wondering, in this drill, what the shorter fencer learns?
    This was styled for a taller fencer, which is what I assumed this it what Skeletorsnell is based on previous comments. The job of a shorter fencer in the same senario is much harder. They either have to displace the blade, or succede in an attack to the arm, to avoid the disparity in arm length.

    I'm also unclear where the lesson in tempo is in this exercise.
    It takes a bit of doing to realize just when you need to step back to clear distance vs. holding your ground, and while that's not necessarily a large tempo component you have to admit that's a lot more than you get hitting a tennis ball on a string.

    [quote] It seems more than "odd" to me, it seems completely backward to not give a fencer the tools they are going to need to fence, and simply try to show them how to "out reach" their opponent. [quote]
    As a one time exercise to illustrate a lesson ("Your opponent must always come past your point to hit you") it has some merit. But I certainly wouldn't use this as a drill.
    A reasonable point, its a better illustration than a drill. However, it will score an unreasonable number of points in competition, even with repetition against the same opponents. The other thing I like about this as a technique (or tool) if you will is that it is easily extensible which other techniques such as:
    introduction of disengage to avoid the blade, counter beat to deflect the blade, counter-attack with opposition, and angulated trusts to the wrist with replacement in the classic wrist, elbow, shoulder sequence.

    -DAC

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    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAgeCat
    However, it will score an unreasonable number of points in competition, even with repetition against the same opponents.
    I certainly wouldn't argue that it will score points, but as a technique, it's a evolutionary dead end, and probably not the best drill to build more actions on.

    How about:

    Starting just inside lunge distance:

    Fencer A: attacks with lunge to Fencer Bs hand.
    Fencer B: retreats but does not parry.
    Fencer A: recovers arm and recovers from lunge.
    Fencer B: as A recovers, starts an attack of their own to Fencer As hand.

    Fencer A can vary the timing of the recover of their arm and their lunge, forcing Fencer B to observe A closely, or risk lunging onto an extended arm. You can do this drill with advance lunge, with manuevering footwork, and so on.

    To me, this drill teaches tempo, distance, and point control, without necessarily relying on "individual classical techniques".
    Last edited by Allen Evans; 11-03-2005 at 11:20 AM.

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    Senior Member cfaustus's Avatar
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    As far as the footwork vs point control... they are not separable... you need good control of your feet to have good point control/ blade control. If you are off balance or if you toe points diagonally away from your opponent, it is amazing how much this can adversly effect your point control - especially in the heat of a bout. Your blade work must be connected to your footwork and your footwork must be connected to the ground beneath your feet... if you are constantly off balance your point control will suffer.
    "Si tu no sabes todas las acciones es como si un msico no supiera tocar todas las notas." - Fernando Chiriboga

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    Senior Member RebelFencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAgeCat
    Hi,

    I hate to start off forum life with a contentious post, but I've had a modest amount of success training beginning fencers up to their first competition and frankly this topic interests me. I'm going to advocate a drill that ignores footwork and point control, in favor of developing an intuitive understanding of distance. Here is that horrible suggestion in terms of classical teaching technique, one that leads rather directly to improved performance.

    If you're taller than your opponent (ie. have a longer reach), stick out your arm with the point aimed down and in towards their elbow to upper arm. You arm should be fully extended but relaxed enough that you can depress the point by gripping your weapon. *Walk* back and forth on the strip keeping your weapon ahead of you and on their target at all times. At your level the opponent will get frustrated and attack. If they hit your blade out of the way, step back, if not wait for them to impale themselves. You will rapidly gain an understanding of just when they can hit you, and you can hit them.

    I know it seems odd to forgo the engarde, and footwork, but that's just formalism that is there to help you develop a simple defense, and enough balance and body consciousness to avoid injury. It does not directly lead to an understanding of distance, tempo, or a sense of threat from your opponent. Which is as far as I'm concerned the core of any fencing game, and all to often ignored in favor of training individual classical techniques.

    -DAC
    Congrats, you've created someone who will get their *** handed to them by anyone worth a damn. If that person has no aspiration but to be middle of the field in an E and under tournament, then please continue to teach that.

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    Senior Member achilleus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAgeCat
    Hi,

    I hate to start off forum life with a contentious post, but I've had a modest amount of success training beginning fencers up to their first competition and frankly this topic interests me. I'm going to advocate a drill that ignores footwork and point control, in favor of developing an intuitive understanding of distance. Here is that horrible suggestion in terms of classical teaching technique, one that leads rather directly to improved performance.
    This first paragraph says it all...

    One of my first tournaments, I was so upset since (it was pools all they way) I had beaten the guys who took first and second, but still finished 4th. The top guy got a D, and the second guy got an E. I felt I was better, since I had beaten them both, but obviously lost more bouts than them overall....

    So, the fencing master walks up to me, and says, 'Why so glum?' I explain my reasons...

    He laughed, and said, you're young, this is your second tournament, don't get so worried. Those guys who won, know their one move. You, you're learning how to fence properly. Continue to do that.'

    Within a year, I was winning, and they stayed where they were. Within 2 years, I was an A, and the D was still a D who couldn't score more than 4 points off me in a DE.

    If the purpose is to get a good competitive result at the first competition, then I'd say you were on the right track with your method. If you're interested in building stronger fencers overall, well, I think you're doing a disservice to your fencers by not teaching them how to fence.
    We're no threat, people, we're not dirty, we're not mean
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    I'll rephrase my complaint about a *focus* on footwork and point control, when the issue the original question was about was how to improve the presception of distance. While good fundamentals such as foot work and point control are necessary to advance a high level of play. They do not *in themselves* result in an understanding of distance. No one is suggesting that they be discarded completely from a training regime. I'm certainly not, however as a tool for teaching distance they are not particularly useful, and asking a student to concentrate wholy on them while they are attempting to learn something else is likely to result in them doing none of the actions correctly.

    Oh, and while critism of my suggestions is very useful, I and perhaps the original poster, would likely find posts that suggest an alternative such as Allen's more useful. Achilleus you're an A what do you or did you do to train distance when you where a beginner?

    -DAC

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    Senior Member achilleus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAgeCat
    I'll rephrase my complaint about a *focus* on footwork and point control, when the issue the original question was about was how to improve the presception of distance. While good fundamentals such as foot work and point control are necessary to advance a high level of play. They do not *in themselves* result in an understanding of distance. No one is suggesting that they be discarded completely from a training regime. I'm certainly not, however as a tool for teaching distance they are not particularly useful, and asking a student to concentrate wholy on them while they are attempting to learn something else is likely to result in them doing none of the actions correctly.

    Oh, and while critism of my suggestions is very useful, I and perhaps the original poster, would likely find posts that suggest an alternative such as Allen's more useful. Achilleus you're an A what do you or did you do to train distance when you where a beginner?

    -DAC
    Well, first, my coaches really drilled into me technique. I hated it, but that was the prereq. before we worked on anything else. After all if you can't execute simple actions, whether it's a step forward or a parry, you'll get killed regardless of everything else.

    Then come the distance drills. For me, there were a variety of partner, of the same or slightly better level, drills. Such as holding a rope or cord between the two, moving the opponent and hitting with a straight lunge, 'Get away Go', etc...

    Also, one of my mentors said the easiest way to learn your distance is to do wall target practice, and lots of it. His theory, the more you get used to hitting a stationary target with 3' of reach, the easier it becomes for you to recgonize how far away you can be.

    Personally, the guys to ask however, are Allen Evans and Jason. Jason posted some great drills in another footwork thread, and both seem to be able to explain drills a whole lot better than I.

    But, really, almost every coach works technique before anything else. In a number of the distance drills I used to do, we would lose 'points' if we fell over, did it incorrectly, etc...

    However the focus of my coaches, and myself was not the next tournament, but overall improvement and an attempt to reach a much higher level of fencing.
    Last edited by achilleus; 11-03-2005 at 02:32 PM.
    We're no threat, people, we're not dirty, we're not mean
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    When the weather's fine,
    We go fishin' or go swimmin' in the sea
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