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Thread: Epee hits: flick, pop, or poke?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tomas N's Avatar
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    Epee hits: flick, pop, or poke?

    I've been working on my basic attacks to the arm of late, trying to incorporate an effective flick into my repetoire. In the past, I've done 99% straight attacks, where I either come in straight or angulate to get the point on target. I'd call this my basic "poke" attack. I've been told by one coach that when I hit, I want to "pop" the point onto target with what is in effect a mini-flick. This ensures that as I'm attacking, there will be enough angulation at the tip to catch the target. Finally, I have the "flick" in all its glory, which for me is a larger motion than the "pop." At least that's how I categorize things in my mind.

    So one question that I have is, how do I transition mentally and physically between these different ways of hitting? When I do the basic poke, my hand is relaxed, I'm thinking about small finger motions and angulation of the wrist to get the point on target. Everything is nice and loose. But when I do a pop or a flick, there are varying degrees of tension required in the arm, wrist and fingers. I find that when I'm thinking about the small "pop" motion, my arm already tends to tense up and my disengages and straight hits to the hand go haywire. Any words of advice?

    Tomas

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    Senior Member darius's Avatar
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    Perhaps you should set up a drill where you're required to do one or the other.

    Option 1 :
    L - Searches for blade.
    F - Disengages and hits exposed target.

    Option 2 :
    L - Exposes top of hand (ever so slightly).
    F - Flick hit to hand.

    Since you won't know what's coming, you need to be prepared for both. That means controlling the tension in your hand in case you need to make a tiight disengage, and being prepared to make the flick quickly, without a lot of building tension. Since the drill is simple, it should be easy to diagnose any technical faults.

    darius

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    Senior Member RoninX's Avatar
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    The tension in either your "pop" or flick attacks should only come at the last second everything should remain loose up until that point. You should not (as you seem to realize) be holding a rigid wrist/arm in anticipation of the flick.

    As darius suggests a good way to get yourself used to this would be a combined drill involving either. Besides, to me the epee flick is not something that you "gear up" for but rather something that you unleash when the target presents itself.
    "I cannot ensure success, I can only endeavor to deserve it" - Capt. John Paul Jones

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    Quote Originally Posted by RoninX
    The tension in either your "pop" or flick attacks should only come at the last second everything should remain loose up until that point. You should not (as you seem to realize) be holding a rigid wrist/arm in anticipation of the flick.

    As darius suggests a good way to get yourself used to this would be a combined drill involving either. Besides, to me the epee flick is not something that you "gear up" for but rather something that you unleash when the target presents itself.
    Not only should everything be loose up until the pop or flick attack, it should immediately go back to loose afterwards to facilitate the disengage poke followup.

    This isn't easy, that's why people practice it in lessons or drills.

    gary hayenga

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    Senior Member acaba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhayenga
    Not only should everything be loose up until the pop or flick attack, it should immediately go back to loose afterwards to facilitate the disengage poke followup.

    This isn't easy, that's why people practice it in lessons or drills.
    Having an observant partner actively watching your drill also helps. When you go for the 'pop' or 'flick', have your drill partner watch your motions for the tenseness, and remind you to relax. It will help you learn when you are/are not relaxed and will help your partner learn to observe an opponent.

    Aaron

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    This post might sound utterly stupid, but try flicking ("popping" or as I call it "throwing the point") with a french grip epee (pommelled). It seems counter-intuitive, but if you try to overexert a blade-bending and stiff, overpowering motion with a french grip you a) really strain the hell out of your wrist, b) will lose your grip on the weapons, and/or c) will never be able to make the touch. Working with the french grip can teach you the proper coordination for the flick (not this sabre-cut nonsense in which the blade bends 90 degrees, but a good flick that drives to the target without 'windup'). It should be charge the point up slightly, bring the point down to the target (presumably, the hand) quickly, and stop the grip to produce a slight blade flexion. The hand should correspond by being loose-TIGHT-loose, the "tightness" requiring a rapid clench of the four fingers and simultaneous pressing down by the thumb. That's how I flick, anyway. It works for me. With the pistol grip, though, it's the same coordination except you can think of the "tightness" being "pulling the trigger" (works better with belgian than visconti). Remember to extend the arm slightly so as to give the point enough downward and forward impetous to actually make the light go on.

    Good luck

  7. #7
    Senior Member OROD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhayenga
    Not only should everything be loose up until the pop... it should immediately go back to loose afterwards to facilitate the disengage poke followup.
    Are we still talking about fencing??


    .

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    Senior Member Tomas N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OROD
    Are we still talking about fencing??
    .
    Boy, I hope so.

    Thanks for the advice. I will follow as suggested.

    For those of you who are competitive epee fencers what's the ratio as a competitor of the "pop" vs. "poke" attacks? Do you, like someone has suggested, almost always hit with a mini-flick? For those who are coaches, when do you start teaching the "pop" motio in epee?

    Tomas

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    Senior Member darius's Avatar
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    I'm not an epeeist by any stretch, but I definitely watch a lot of high level stuff. The flick to close target is common, but the true power of the action isn't in hitting with it, it's that it doubles as a preparation.

    I approach it with the mentality that if it hits, great. If not (and it won't, more often than not), then you are gathering information/triggering a reaction from your opponent. From there, you can develop the appropriate responses:

    L initiates action by flicking to wrist.

    Option 1 -
    F - counterattacks.
    L - takes the blade and hits with opposition.

    Option 2 -
    F - attempts to parry.
    L - either derobes the blade or waits for the riposte and counterripostes.

    Option 3 -
    F - pulls hand back, away from the flick
    L - hits with a fleche

    That should give you a framework to build from. Of course, it doesn't have to be done with a flick; this works fine with a thrust as well, but the extra hand movement in the flick tends to draw the counterattack more.

    Coachingwise, I teach it when I believe the student is ready. Namely, when they've got the hand strength to flick without flaying my hand open, and the spatial sense to actually be a threat to the wrist.

    darius
    Last edited by darius; 03-10-2006 at 10:57 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ReverseLunge's Avatar
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    Forget about popping and flicking for now. Find or create your target, extend your arm, drop your point and advance.

    Do not do Epee as though it is a game of tag. A big mistake many people make is retract the blade after they have missed or been parried and go for a renewel of attack. This often puts your at a disavantage because you opponents blade is going to follow your retraction and by the time you are decide to barry or bind his tip is way too close and he will either force himself in or remise/angulate around your parry or bind. Also when you retract and he keeps extended you might simply walk into his tip as you are renewing your attack.

    Chose you line and follow though, there is a good chance that your opponent might parry or bind you right into himself.
    Last edited by ReverseLunge; 03-10-2006 at 05:15 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member counterattack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomas N
    Boy, I hope so.

    Thanks for the advice. I will follow as suggested.

    For those of you who are competitive epee fencers what's the ratio as a competitor of the "pop" vs. "poke" attacks? Do you, like someone has suggested, almost always hit with a mini-flick? For those who are coaches, when do you start teaching the "pop" motio in epee?

    Tomas
    I would say that there are many top level fencers(USFA only, I don't fence internationally) who hit with mini-flick (pop, as you call it). Not for every point, and not on every opponent obviously. It is certainly something every epee fencer should be able to do, since some people's biggest openings are the sort that either require a mini-flick or are much easier to stick with a mini-flick tacked onto the end.

  12. #12
    Senior Member D+F+P=Hadouken!'s Avatar
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    Listen. This flick/poke/pop thing is not something that you think about. Just do you dummy work, fence enough bouts, and it will come with time. Its like bouncing, so dont force it. I just cant stress it enough. If you try to force these little "feel" things, then you'll miss out entirely, and be stuck with a trick that doesnt work.
    "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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