How can I get faster?
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Thread: How can I get faster?

  1. #1
    Just Joined
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    Sep 2012
    Cleveland, Ohio

    How can I get faster?


    I'm a very old -- over fifty -- and a newbie. I really have enjoyed the seven months of fencing instruction I've had, but because of my age, I'm SLOW. I know there's no way to speed my actual physiological reaction time, but what can I do to be a bit quicker to riposte? Any other oldsters out there wanting to fence better, even though we're not destined for the Olympics? Any ideas, anybody?

  2. #2
    Just Joined
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    Oct 2011
    Mostly from pure practices to build up the muscle memory and the ability to predict actions. Also efficent movements can make actions look faster, since you'll only be using the needed muscles. Otherwise, increase the distance to give you more response time. Most of these will get drilled into you in the lessons over time.

    Just curious, which club do you fence at?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Maggie's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Maryland, USA
    Welcome to fencing from another oxymoran (novice veteran)! Speed will come with practice, especially on ripostes. Even your feet can get faster with practice, if you are also staying/getting in shape at the gym or elsewhere outside the salle. Just keep practicing and don't worry about it too much yet. Seven months is not really all that long, especially for us oxymorans. Old dogs can learn new tricks but it takes us longer (extra treats help, too).
    "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    May 2005
    NJ, USA
    I agree with Loki6602 to that practice and training will improve your speed. But it isn't clear exactly what sort of speed you need to improve. Physical speed takes physical training, and while you can make significant progress there even after 50 (if you weren't in good shape beforehand), it's not going to come as quickly as it would have when you were 18.

    On the other hand, if it's your effective reaction time you need to improve, two things will improve this. The first, as mentioned before, is practice -- practice of the specific combination of movements that you need to execute. The second is anticipation. When your opponent totally surprises you, you are stuck with pure reaction time. But when you learn to anticipate your opponent's actions, and even better to provoke a foreseen action from your opponent, then you will be ready with the appropriate response much sooner.

    This ability will come naturally with experience, but you can push it along by making an intentional effort to create the situations for which you have a planned response. Don't wait for your opponent to attack you, and then hope to parry and riposte; instead, trigger their attack at the moment you intend, so that your parry-riposte is primed and ready.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    As others have mentioned, practice and repetition (correct repetition!) will refine your mechanical execution. More broadly, be aware that timing and changes of speed (even if you're only going from 'really slow' to 'middling fast') are just as important (if not more so) than raw speed.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member dharmaqueen's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    Strength training. I have to say building muscle will provide for more speed. Reaction timing however will come from practice and training. Put the two together and you will be unstoppable at any age!!!
    "Chance favors the prepared mind." Louis Pasteur

    "I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds." Grig, The Last Starfighter

  7. #7
    Senior Member jeremyb215's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
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    Almost my entire beginners claas, coaches were yelling "Slow down!!" at me. It's a problem I'm still trying to solve.
    IMHO, "speed" is not so important as acceleration. How quickly one makes the trasition from zero to "hitting speed" plays a very key role.
    mrbiggs likes this.

  8. #8
    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Somewhere in your nightmares!
    Look up "overspeed training"...and develop specific exercises for what you are trying to improve. Consult your coach and possibly a professional physical trainer in the process.

    But you're still going to make very small incremental improvements at best. Speed is mostly genetic determined.
    Use the Shift key, people! Keyboard manufacturers everywhere are ineffably saddened when you ignore what they made just for you!

  9. #9
    Senior Member EldRick's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Portland, OR
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    Keep at it - you will be amazed at how much faster you will become after a couple of years of practice.
    dharmaqueen likes this.

  10. #10
    Senior Member shlepzig's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Princeton NJ
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    I would suggest that you not think of success in terms of beating the other player in a drag race to some point in space. The real problem is being in the right place at the right time. If you are fencing a weapon of convention you have to include, having ROW when you get there.

    Going faster is just one way to approach the problem, sometimes it's the wrong answer.

    The other side of the coin is convincing your opponent that the right place and time is somewhere else.

    You will need time to learn how to use all the tools to do this, but that's the fun of discovering this sport. I would suggest you focus on a couple tactics.
    1. Drill yourself in proper technique and sequence, proper sequence can make you appear much faster than you are (such as hand before feet, small parries are faster than big ones, establishing the leverage on the blade before coming forward in pris de fer)
    2. Experiment with very smooth movements to conceal your intention.
    3. Use changes in speed/direction rather than absolute speed/acceleration to make your touch.
    4. Play with the space between you and the other fencer to see how the opportunities to make a touch change.
    5. Explore the use of second (and third) intention to make touches without requiring phenomenal speed
    6. Frustrate your opponent by making him doubt his options.

    Always be dangerous.
    foibles and Natureboy like this.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by jeremyb215 View Post
    Almost my entire beginners claas, coaches were yelling "Slow down!!" at me. It's a problem I'm still trying to solve.
    IMHO, "speed" is not so important as acceleration. How quickly one makes the trasition from zero to "hitting speed" plays a very key role.
    This a million times. Many new fencers think that speed is important, or that speed is how they're losing touches; this is rarely true. Speed is obviously important in fencing, but it's almost trivial to make up for it at lower levels through things like technique, acceleration, and experience.

    In fact, when I fence beginners who go fast, I almost always try to go as slow as I can rather than matching their speed. Keeping up with them just causes mistakes.

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