Anti-foil epee

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by PeterGustafsson, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. PeterGustafsson

    PeterGustafsson Rookie

    Nov 1, 2002
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    When I am coaching, I from time to time give the students some competely new drill, in order to mix up things, and get students out of their comfort zone. Many of those drills are thought out on a whim, I let them unfold and if they seem to work well, I retain them for later use, and if not, I simply dump them. Most are dumped, but some turn out to be worthwhile. On balance, I think that the cost connected to dumped drills is a little wasted piste time, and the upsides with the useful drills can be quite big. In either case, there is also the upside that students do not get stuck in rote actions, but are forced to think things through - the point of that is that students, when they are faced with a difficult problem at a competition, should be in the habit of thinking things through and not be stuck with trying to do whatever that they currently are doing without success again, but just harder and faster this time.

    Yesterday, I saw that one student was winning epee bout after bout against another, so I decided to try something else. I decided that they would fence, but with another target area than they were used to. This time, they would only be awarded points if they scored hits on the parts of the epee target that are not foil target.

    It sure did change things, there was more infighting, and decidedly more attempts at leg hits. The shorter fencer, who previously had lost every bout, this time came very close to winning that one bout. The longer fencer, who tends to rely a lot on distance, had noticeable problems with adjusting.

    I am not sure what to make of this exercise. Do you think that it can cause students to learn the wrong lessons? Any comments in general?

    Have a nice time!

    Peter Gustafsson
  2. edew

    edew Podium

    Jun 15, 2000
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    I'm a short fencer, especially for epee, and I hit primarily to non-foil targets in epee. I would say about 60% of my hits are to the weapon forearm. 10% to the thigh (by getting parried there when I can opportune the parry), and the remaining 30% to the torso. The 60% may include some torso, but it's aimed mostly at the upper arm or shoulder. I have to hit those spots because the taller fencer has the reach over me to hit my torso way before I can hit his or her torso.

    I think the game modification is an interesting one.
  3. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

    Nov 8, 2002
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    We do this for our advanced kids. "X, you only score on the leg. Y, you only get the arm." It really gets them thinking. You can also adjust it where you can score between your opponent's en-guarde and meter-lines; X can score past Y's en-guarde line. So now they have a reason to move their opponents. Very effective for the "rabid badger" fencers who retreat to their meter-line and wait.

    Having a nice time!
  4. badpenny

    badpenny Made the Cut

    Jan 30, 2009
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    It is theorized that Brazil is one of the worlds' great soccer countries because of Futsal. The game is played indoors, with a smaller field and heavier ball, and it forces the participants to pass and dribble more accurately than football. Those skills translate well onto the soccer field, and are harder to learn in soccer than on the futsal field, hence more pros per capita come out of Brazil than any other country. (I wouldn't know either way, as soccer == lame, but I'm relating what I read. Is this really true? I don't know, let's get somebody that plays fulsal to confirm.)

    Anyway, I personally think you are on to something, about looking for games/methods to build skills outside the realm of traditional epee. If you can describe anything you have found particularly effective, I would be very interested to hear about it.

    As an epee'ist, I have the hardest times practicing real, effective, parries. The same dozen or so characters I usually bout with know this, so they throw in a zillion disengages all the time, with the result that I get a lot of stop hit practice. When I get impatient to practice parries, I often purposely close the distance and force something, which costs me points but at least I can try to get my parries in.

    I think a fun game to try would be to limit an epee bout to 2 meters. Another fun game might be to remove grounding from the epee bell, which would really make you fence "no-blade" style. Oh, and at my salle, sometimes we let certain actions count for more, like let leg/foot touches count for 3 points, to encourage more lower quadrant actions.
  5. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Podium

    Mar 13, 2003
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    Another variation is to let each person pick two or three targets without telling their opponent. The more advanced fencer is required to divide the body into smaller targets than the less advanced so, for example, the more advanced fencer could pick forearm and low-outside quadrant of the body, and the less advanced could pick body and arm. Each fencer keeps track of their own score and at some point they just announce "I win!" This has the added bonus of each person needing to intuit what targets their opponent has picked, which leads to purposely hitting targets that do not count to hide which targets do count.
  6. Superscribe

    Superscribe Rookie

    Feb 10, 2004
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    that's funny. i thought foil was supposed to be futsal to epee's football.

    also, basketball to volleyball. I think.

    there are some people here who feel very strongly about training for their specific needs. a debate that's happened here before is whether girls get any benefit from fencing guys.
  7. AllezCat

    AllezCat Made the Cut

    Aug 9, 2003
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    I've done this exact drill in some of my epee classes, but technologically. Dress them in foil lames and use a grounding wire to connect the lame to their C line. Voila, you can't score to the torso. It makes them work on hitting alternate targets, and it also teaches them to not stop if they think they hit or got hit.

    I like drills like this because it jolts the students' brains out of their familiar grooves and gets them thinking about how to solve the problem.

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