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Thread: the disengage

  1. #1
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    the disengage

    The other day a student and I were having a discussion about how valuble is the disengage in modren foil. I feel it's important to know , but in truth I seldom use it except in a reposte. He feels that not that many foilists use it anyway. Ok how many of you foilist realy use the disengage, why or why not?
    big poppa

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    Senior Member edew's Avatar
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    Only the top fencers use it, and only the top fencers can master it. The flick is now so easy to parry that it's not much of a hindrance anymore. The simple disengage is still the best "complex" attack in foil. I quoted complex because it's not technically a complex action (which according to the rules, would require multiple disengages and coupes and such). A simple disengage can and still should be used to keep your opponent honest.

    If all you do is flick, then I have a lot more dimensions to hit: I can step back and let the flick land short, and then make my riposte. I can step forward and make a counter-attack into a soon-to-be flat hit. I can watch the arc of the flick and make the appropriate parry.

    But a disengage keeps that tip right in front. It kills the step-in counter-attack. It makes the second parry a desperation move (the first parry is almost always a false one, but when the opponent's blade is just inches from your body, the second parry is most likely desperation). It almost forces the opponent to make retreats, and parry wildly at the same time.

    But, the simple disengage is extremely tough to master. Most people can't see the parry and react fast enough to go around it. So either they make big disengages, or they pull back to make withdrawn attacks (which are equally good, but does offer the opponent a chance to gather his thoughts).

    In my DE bouts, depending on whom I'm fencing against, I would say 4 touches are ripostes, 6 are attacks using timing or simple disengage, 2 are flicks, and 3 are counter-attacks/point-in-lines. Of the four ripostes, three would be simple no disengage, no flicking to the chest, and one would involve flicking to the back or chest.

    The bulk of my touches are nothing more than jockeying for position and making a simple straight attack, getting the opponent to step into my attack with his counter-attack. If I know what he's up to, I'll add a simple disengage to get around the parry.
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    Senior Member greenchick's Avatar
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    I love the disengage -- although I'm sure I'm years away from mastering it. Edew did a better job than I ever could of giving good reasons to use it.

    You might point out to your student that if the fencers he's competing against don't use disengages, there's a pretty good chance they can't defend against them very well either.

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    Senior Member peircer's Avatar
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    I'm just starting to feel comfortable disengaging after 4 years of practice. I think a lot of it is you need to learn to keep your shoulder relaxed at speed.

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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    Originally posted by edew


    The bulk of my touches are nothing more than jockeying for position and making a simple straight attack, getting the opponent to step into my attack with his counter-attack. If I know what he's up to, I'll add a simple disengage to get around the parry.
    And the bulk of your touches against me (hell...ALL of them!) are nothing more than:
    "Fence"

    :Eric sticks his arm out while Sam obediently walks forward and impales himself 5 or 15 times in a row:

    Sound about right, Eric?
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    Senior Member Tomas N's Avatar
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    Disengage--moving your point under your opponents blade to change the line of engagement, right? I ask, only because I may be confused between the disengage and something else. Eric's response that "only the top fencers use it" throws me off a bit, because I think I'm doing lots of disengages, but I am not a top fencer. I'd certainly be a better fencer if I saw and reacted to parries in a manner that he suggests.

    I'm not a big flicker, but I'd guess that many of my hits come from disengages or the threat of disengages. There are few things in fencing more satisfying to me than doing nice tight disengages around an opponents wild parries.

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    I'm not a foil fencer, but I've watched a lot of my friends who are. It seems disengages and double disengages are very popular with them. They like to reserve their flicks for ripostes. The times I got conned into fencing foil with them I got nail mainly through disengages. The few times I managed to parry and attempt a riposte I get counter-parried and flick to shoulder or chest.
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  8. #8
    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    No, the disengage consists of telling your fiance that the wedding is off. I understand it's tougher than it sounds.

    Ahem. But seriously, folks...

    On the few ( think fingers of one hand ) times in the last decade that I have been wheedled, bribed or otherwise induced to fence foil ( brrr! ) my fencing, if I can call it that, consisted almost entirely of straight attacks and simple disengages. The latter were responsible for the bulk of my successful touches, and once got me into the 16 of a fairly strong field. ( As to the flick, I had few problems with it, thanks to sabre retreats. )

    It is a very useful action, whether you are an advanced fencer or a bumbling dabbler, IMO.

  9. #9
    Senior Member peircer's Avatar
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    I still gotta agree with Edew's discussion on it (and the topic starter) I remember having a heck of a time doing simple disengages on anyone except beginners for a really long time. Any decent fencer is going to execute several parries, and unless you've got a really great disengage you're going to get parried, especially if it's an opponent you're not familiar with. Until you get really good, you're not going to pull it off unless the other guy has a problem with habitually using a patern to parries.

  10. #10
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    The key is timing and the quality of your 'feint'. In fact I believe the use of the word feint is wrong, you should really intend to hit on the 1st action and continue on for the disengage and 2nd hit. I'm speaking really about Epee I suppose. I also wouldn't attempt more than a couple of disengages - even after 1 you are looking at the serious possibility of being stopped.
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