Primary and secondary targets in epee
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Thread: Primary and secondary targets in epee

  1. #1
    Senior Member crquack's Avatar
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    Primary and secondary targets in epee

    Not so long ago a couple of members of this forum suggested in response to a related topic that an epee attack should be first aimed at an arm but should not stop there, the likelihood of success being low, but continue to a larger target, i.e. torso. Or so I understood it.

    I have been trying to implement this advice with a mixed success. About half the time I get skewered as I progress from the primary target (arm) to the secondary target (anything else).

    There is no-one in the club who is able to help with this. I got to thinking that there has to be a rational progression in the target selection (top of the arm to high chest or neck, for instance) while other combinations are less likely to be successful.

    Has anyone got views on this? What specific progressions, if any, do you practice/recommend?

  2. #2
    Senior Member LUDICROUS's Avatar
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    What I've been taught, is wrist to arm etc, but it's more in the style of making the hit than anything else (as far as I can tell) - placing the point down and pushing forward almost, in one motion. Can't explain it well, but I'm sure someone more qualified than me can explain, or help.

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  3. #3
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    Yeah, I think you pretty much got it. Although, to confuse you further, I wouldn't necessarily recommend ALWAYS progressing from one to the next. It's important to know what you're trying to hit. If you're trying for a feint to the bottom of the hand, and they happen to drop their hand, it probably isn't a very good idea to go any further in the same line. Best to switch to the top line and go from there. And, in general, I've gotten in the habbit of not going further than the wrist with most of my feints. If you over commit to these early attacks to provoke a reaction, you'll find yourself being hit rather easily by your opponent, as you put yourself too close.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member counterattack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crquack View Post
    Has anyone got views on this? What specific progressions, if any, do you practice/recommend?
    I have been working on the same thing and have had similarly variable success. What I have found is that it is very opponent dependent. Opponents who tend to counter attack vigorously or who greatly vary which line they counter attack in make it difficult to pick ahead of time two targets that will be open. On these I just pretty much work on scoring my first target, whether that be from a safer distance to a lower percentage target, or a more risky but more probable deeper attack.

    I still sometimes try two targets on other opponents, but keeping in mind before I begin which reactions by my opponent will make the second target pointless or worse.

    As for examples, as a lefty I will attack near 4 o'clock on my opponent's bell guard and as they try to parry 4 I will circle clockwise to the outside aiming for their wrist and then on into their flank. In this case I find that I really have to begin my attack to their 4 otherwise the initial response to the wrist shot is also good to parry my second target, while if they a froced to go towards 4 at first they often can only save their wrist but, as long as my footward is aggressivley closing distance, they can't save their flank. But all the angles have to be just right. If they go higher on their 6 it becomes impossible, and I have to go under to the flank still (which seems to me like it should work but I never have much success with) or pull up more and make their front knee my second target.

  5. #5
    Senior Member tehcow's Avatar
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    Well there are certain areas of target that are 'high percentage' in that it's generally easier to land a hit there, for example the upper torso on their weapon side, but it really depends on the situation. If you make a thrust to the forward target (wrist, hand, whatever) what you do next depends on your opponents reaction. Ideally you hit them and nothing else needs to happen. If they make a parry you can remise with disengage. If they do nothing you can just fleche. If they extend you can take the blade, or remise with opposition.

    What I'm trying to say is, don't be stuck with a list of patterns to use. Be flexible. It doesn't really matter which part of the deep target you go for as long as you hit it, since deep target is always far away. But you don't always need to go deep straight away, and it is often very dangerous to do so without their blade dealt with in some way. Perhaps think about using the forward target as a preparation, setting up a counter-riposte. Be creative

    Edit: Wow I take my time writing a reponse and by the time I'm finished three people have got in ahead of me
    Last edited by tehcow; 11-08-2006 at 07:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Allen Evans's Avatar
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    I hesitate to make "rules" when it comes to target selection in epee. Any rule you make about epee is likely to have some very glaring exceptions. With that said, here is something to think about.

    Always attacking a deeper target after a near one isn't a bad idea...but what constitutes a deeper target? For instance, a fencer makes an attack to the hand and the opponent makes a parry while standing still. In this case, it makes sense to disengage and continue to the body if the parry allows you enough time (and you have the skill).

    Suppose the opponent parries while stepping back? Now the "deeper" target is again the arm or hand, NOT the body. Attempting to finish to the body against this fencer is going to result in the attacker being hit with a counter-attack or picked up on a second parry.

    After an initial attack, the second attack should be aimed at a target that is within one fencing tempo, no matter what that target might be. The exception to this rule is if the first attack allows the attacker to take control of the defenders blade. Then, a subsequent action can cover more than one fencing tempo, since the opponent's blade is under the attackers control.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Redblade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crquack View Post
    I have been trying ... with a mixed success.
    It takes time to develop skill. You can expect to continue to experience "mixed success" for a while. The advice is not a magic pill.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mr Epee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Evans View Post
    I hesitate to make "rules" when it comes to target selection in epee. Any rule you make about epee is likely to have some very glaring exceptions.
    Brilliant... this should be posted daily.

    Also, don't' get stuck in rut of assuming that you always progress to deeper targets... a good fencer will often be able to take a shot to the shallow targets on the way out.

    The best coaches I've seen regularly work this into practically every lesson.
    Take your time. Read carefully.

  9. #9
    Senior Member telkanuru's Avatar
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    I wouldn't really phrase it as shallow -> deep, I'd phrase it as preperation -> attack, the main idea being acting like the action is over at any time is a mistake in epee.

    The example given is with the hand, so I'll use that although I find the toe useful as well. Basically a shallow attack allows for a distinct threat with the minimum of risk. A threatened opponent is a reactionary opponent is a hit opponent. Any time you attempt this action, it is a eyes open action. Going deeper regardless of what your opponent is doing is rather foolish. I'll provide an example of a lesson I've been given and then stop this as I seem not to be able to form cohesive thoughts this early

    C: Present blade
    S: Beat-extend-step (attempt hand hit)

    Coach either parries (student disengages), counter-attacks (student binds), or just bails (student continues no further)

    If 1 or 2 after being hit C. disengages again w/ retreat, student picks up blade and redoubles

    C. is hit, retreats and lunges, student stop-hits into recovery.

    The idea is obviously that an action that would hit in lesson might not in a bout, and therefore a student must be trained to simultaniously believe that every action will hit while being fully prepared for it not to.
    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

  10. #10
    Senior Member RITFencing's Avatar
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    My .02: When going for a deep target, it's generally good to open up with some sort of an attack to a short one. However, it's not just a random first attack followed by a random second one. The first one acts like a preparation, setting up the second one by hopefully creating a situation in which it is much easier to hit. Ex: I attack to your wrist, you attempt to parry, I disengage and continue to your arm. I might not have been able to hit your arm like that without that first action drawing that parry to open up my target.

    Prep for deep target (or any target) doesn't always have to be a fient or short attack, it can be a whole lot of things, but it should generally be there. Don't think of it as a "before going deep, always attack short," but rather as "before making your attack, set it up." Attacking short to draw some sort of reaction, be it a parry, a counter attack, whatever, is just one thing that should be in your bag of tricks.

    Hope that helps.
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  11. #11
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    i don't have the source of this statistic, but its something i've heard and had reinforced -- 70% of the hits in high-level epee are to the body.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Durando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Epee View Post
    a good fencer will often be able to take a shot to the shallow targets on the way out.
    Amazing how many touches can be picked up this way.
    Bon qu'à ça.

  13. #13
    Senior Member parrythis's Avatar
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    While the advice you’ve been given – to follow through from missed primary target to secondary – is good advice, it is not that simple. You have to take into account how your opponent responds to your initial action. It is likely that you are getting skewered because your opponent is doing something to cause you to miss your attack on primary target and then launching some kind of counter-attack before you can proceed to secondary target. You probably won’t be able to just drive blindly on through from primary to secondary unless your opponent is a mannequin.

    As you launch your attack against primary target, do so with no real intention of landing the touche. Make it look real, and be prepared to complete it if your opponent does nothing, but your head should be focused on watching for your opponent’s response. Do they retreat and throw a counter attack? Do they parry with opposition and attack? Do they beat your blade and seek out primary target exposed by their beat? Consider what your opponent is doing between your attacks on primary and secondary targets and have a response of your own ready for each action they could throw at you.

    Don’t forget that your opponent’s knee is probably almost as close to you as their wrist is and should also be considered to be primary target. You don’t always have to go from primary to secondary. Sometimes you can go from one primary to a different primary target.
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  14. #14
    Just Joined Cpt.Rutherford's Avatar
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    Good timing and distance should ensure that an attack is exploited at the oppertune moment. If an attack to a shallow target is parryed or countered, being a cautius fencer I withdraw. To procced to a secondary target is to proceed in to uncertainty.
    After great consideration i have found that it is impossible for a worm to fall over.

  15. #15
    Senior Member crquack's Avatar
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    Thank you all.

    It seems that I have been treating this as an "eyes closed" issue whe in fact it should be "eyes open". That will require much more fencing experience and not something I can practice with a piece of wood. Shame.

    Further I suspect I do the second attack too quick. It took me a while to learn that a simple disengage has to be done at the "right" speed, not necessarily fast.

    Next, I shall discover electricity...:-)

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