technical versus natural approach (lunge)

Discussion in 'Coaching Corner' started by Spenzario, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. Spenzario

    Spenzario Rookie

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    Nowadays it is very popular to promote a natural way of learning. A complete technical way is quite boring and with a natural way one can make very fast advances in fencing. And natural means also self-discovering. Natural sells.
    For me it all depends how one teaches the student fencing. With the technical approach, I had a lot of fun, it all depends on the didactical approach of the teacher.
    In commercials the term natural is often used, it implies that the product is healthier and thus better. Natural in fencing implies that the approach is better. I am referring to the thread: how to make a lunge.

    Some points to consider:
    1st of all: why is it taught, to lift your toes in the beginning of the lunge? Well first of all to make a stable landing (first heel and then the rest of the foot).
    2nd: I had students that were always landing on their toes; it was never taught to them and it was very difficult to correct them.
    3rd: It is not very important to lift up the toes in the start of the lunge, of somewhere in the middle, one lands stable.
    4th: lifting up your toes at the start, means one can also make false lunges (your preparation) to mislead the adversary, to provoke the attack of the adversary. Playing with your feet, is very important, to dominate the game of 2nd intention.
    5th:What is faster: a natural lunge or the one which starts with lifting up your toes?
    Well, one can consider that your frontleg can also increase the speed while throwing it forwards with force. It helps also to pulll your body forwards. Only few teachers know this, but this is very interesting! So the frontleg also helps to accelerate the lunge. So if you start your frontleg later, than you have lost some speed.
    6th and last point: natural movements means better? No way. There was a research about what is the best way to button a shirt. One sees, that most of the persons, start with the button below, since it is a very unnatural movement to start with the buttons on top. It is measured, that starting with your buttons on top, one is much faster (although maybe just a few milliseconds). However it is unnatural and less confident. So when do we start with lifting up our toes? At the start, at the middle? Just think about it.

    A long time ago somewhere in the beginning of the 80-ies. There was an interview with Borella. He had already won several world-cups. He said he felt that his level was going downwards. So he told to the magazine Escrime, that he was training again the basis of footwork, with the emphasis on making good lunges and good footwork.
    My conclusion: On worldtop level, it really matters, if one controls all the small details on footwork. That is the difference between the champ and the large subtop. All the small details matter.
     
  2. sdubinsky

    sdubinsky DE Bracket

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  3. Spenzario

    Spenzario Rookie

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    Thanks fo mentioning the article, that shows another point of view and it is not complete at all. It could be only valid for sabre. However it never mentions that starting with your front leg one already starts to accelerate, a special training therefore is adquired. So my conclusion, at the end of my story is, that one has to start with the front leg and afterwards you throw the body forwards. Although on epee you have to be very careful.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  4. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Lunging is considerably more complicated than simply throwing the front leg forward.
     
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  5. Spenzario

    Spenzario Rookie

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    I completely agree Allen Evans.Just consider: normal lunge, semi lunge, misleading lunge and the distance. What bothers me that nowadays they are mentioning the natural way, like natural is always the best way.
     
  6. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Can one accomplish all of what you are describing by having the student execute the lunge without lifting the toes first? I would suggest that you can, and a review of video of top fencers shows that they often do not lunge "toes first" except perhaps in very specific situations, such as the attack into the preparation.

    There are several reasons why a student would "land on their toes" when the lunge is taught "naturally"#. Invariably this error is produced when the coach/trainer emphasis the kick as separate from the extension of the back leg when making the movement. By isolating one body part and making it responsible for the entire action, strange artifacts occur. Additionally, coaches often emphasize long lunges far too early in the student's training. The combination of a "kick-centered" approach and over reaching causes awkward foot placement and a variety of problems, including pointing the toes on the front foot in the lunge.

    In my own teaching, I do not now emphasize lifting the toes to lunge (though I was taught that way myself). I never ask a beginner to lunge much further than 10-12 inches, to start. I emphasize the role that both the front and the rear legs play in making a lunge, and that the goal is to transfer the center of mass of the student towards the target to deliver the point or edge. I don't encounter many problems with landing on the toes.

    A

    # "Natural" is a designation I'm moving away from in my own conversations about the lunge, for a variety of reasons.
     
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  7. Spenzario

    Spenzario Rookie

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    Allen Evans:
    It is great to share views about fencing. Many things are not written, many things are not told and are not well thought about. So every analysis is welcome on this forum. It helps me a lot.
    I like your detailed description. Just before I read, your comments I was recalling the clip about the Korean sabre fencers in my mind. So what I saw that while stepping forwards they were already closing the step (almost the back foot against the front). That means the smaller the guard the more you will lift your front toes after extending the back leg. This is quite logical.
    My analysis with landing on your toes is that if you land on your heel, that the toes are used as a brake, because they come afterwards and you land stable.
    Of course there is no sense in teaching the perfect lunge, cause ther isn't one. Even I do not teach or insist that you have to raise your toes first. I just emphasize that it has to happen somewhere. Preferably in the beginning.
    Ahhh and landing on the toes: I observed that this was done by sporters who were originally also into gymnastics or ballet. That was quite funny. Cause I asked them: " did you practiced this or that sport?" And they were surprised.
     

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