Being more aggressive

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Claire Pittet, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Hi,
    I was wondering if you guys had some advice about how to be more aggressive during a bout. Most of the time I wait until my opponent attacks to score. It works, but not when I'm losing the bout... Also when I do feints they are never very believable. Overall I'm not very aggressive during the match and tend to not attack first, especially with more experimented fencers.
    If you hand a tactic, exercise or tip it would be nice :)
     
  2. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

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    Which weapon do you fence?

    How long (how many months / years) have you been fencing?
     
  3. keropie

    keropie Podium

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    Short answer: talk to your coach (if you have one) or fencers you fence with (if you don't have a coach). None of us know you or can see you fence, so our 'suggestions' are more just ideas that may or may not be relevant to you.
    Also, what weapon? How much experience? Who are you fencing with (in terms of experience)? Where are you fencing (in case someone knows the local scene, could suggest a coach, etc.)? What does your practice look like? What sort of training resources do you have? (I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be *something*...)

    That being said:
    - feints should feel like attacks; given that you state that you don't attack much, it's hard to imagine how effective a feint would be. If you can't make your opponent at least respect your simple attack, feints are hard to make effective.
    - being more aggressive is a mind set; commit to it, understand it will be a work in progress (and your results may get worse, temporarily), and see what works for you.
    - being aggressive doesn't necessarily mean attacking (though it often does); aggressively moving forward to draw an attack/counterattack to setup counter-time can be plenty aggressive.
     
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  4. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    I would check out this:

    http://www.coachescompendium.org/LIES.HTML

    As for being aggressive, that's a longer story, though Keropie hit much of it on the head. Taking the initiative in a bout (which is, in my view, a better way to say "being aggressive") takes confidence in your attacks, belief in your defense (since so many attacks fail), and a certain amount of raw confidence. It's hard to tell from a simple post which one of these things might be lacking in you. This is definitely a discussion to have a with a coach or very trusted teammate, while keeping in mind that unless you're fencing saber, taking the initiative in the bout isn't always a necessity to have a successful "game" in the other two weapons.
     
  5. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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  6. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Thank you for your answers! I have fenced for 4 years and then had a break of a few years, but started again almost year ago. I fence with a french grip (so epee). I fence with a lot of different fencers: from beginners to my brother that is in the swiss senior national team. I fence in Switzerland. And I normally train about 3 times a week, but am doing a break because of knee problems. We have one of the best fencing room in the country, so no problem of training resources.
     
  7. keropie

    keropie Podium

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    So, a few things:
    1) Given that it's epee, and assuming tbryan responds, look at his response more; he's an epee fencer, I'm very much not.
    2) Given that you have strong coaching resources and bouting resources, I would absolutely ask them as they have more information to give you a better informed opinion.
    3) 'Aggressive' in epee may mean different things; there's certainly a school where you want to play it safe and keep the distance fairly open. To me, this is rarely 'aggressive.' There's another school where you want to push the action and make strong, first intention offensive actions when the distance is right; this is much more 'aggressive.' But there's also valid schools where you want to hang out near the edge of distance, waiting for an opportunity to make a counter attack, or a conservative attack, or maybe even a strong attack or open distance, all to force you opponent to make good choices through out the whole bout. This is certainly a version of being aggressive that may not end up meaning any attacks.

    For instance, there's a vet fencer in our area who fences a largely defensive game; he wants you to attack, and then he wants to parry and riposte (relatively few counter attacks or strong offense from him). But his parry/riposte game is CERTAINLY aggressive.

    Just some things to think about.
     
  8. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    Go fence some sabre, you will learn aggressiveness organically. Then transfer that back that to your epee.

    If an Olympian like Arianna Errigo can take up sabre---and she is doing rather well at it---I don't see why one could not do the same, even if only for training purposes.
     
  9. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Thank you for your answer and the two articles :)
     
  10. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    I'll talk about all this next time I see my brother! I often play it safe and wait for the opponent to attack, and even though it works, if I'm losing or fencing against somebody that is also more defensive I tend to struggle. I think I need to work a little bit on ways to provoke my opponent and my feints.
     
  11. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Thank you! It's true that the fencers that know my actions probably have already noticed my lack of attacks. Distance is probably not the problem, as I tend to fence with a too small distance. I will ask my trainer if we can work on my attacks and feints this week.
     
  12. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Unfortunately we only do epee in our club :/
     
  13. Redblade

    Redblade DE Bracket

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    You might also consider changing your personal lexicon and substitute "assertive" for "aggressive" when you think about fencing behavior. The latter tends to carry a lot of conceptual baggage related to violence and anger, whereas the former is more focused on getting what you deserve (i.e. bout-winning points your opponent refuses to give up).
     
  14. piste off

    piste off Podium

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    Alex? Yeah, talk to him about this. He's a very smart cookie.
     
  15. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    You know him ?
     
  16. piste off

    piste off Podium

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    How many beers does it take to really know a person? We've also fenced a ton together.

    Oh, and trust in Allen Evans.
     
  17. ladyofshalott99

    ladyofshalott99 DE Bracket

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    Shift in approach is needed. It's not about waiting for your opportunity to score; it's about *creating the opportunity yourself*.

    What you want to do is get to a mental space where you are "setting up an attack". What that means is that you need to be the person tricking your opponent into doing certain stuff--maybe getting just a bit too close, maybe it's doing something they read as a movement that causes them to make another particular movement that you are engineering them to do--that gives you the opportunity to hit them.

    A good example of this is tempo change in your footwork. This is the most commonly overlooked thing for beginner and intermediate fencers, because most classes at that level are focused on the correct blade work, correct parries and reposts, and just flat out learning the rules. But the footwork is the most important part of developing a solid strategic game.

    So when you are getting feedback that you need to be more "aggressive", that doesn't mean fence with anger and tension (DEFINITELY DO NOT DO THAT--tension is a big clue to your opponent that something is either going to happen, or that their own attacks are going to be short, awkward, inefficient). What we really want to do is "be less passive". Yes, part of that is confidence, but you can "fake it till you make it".

    Another way to think about it: Have you ever played the Glove Game in warmup? That's about faking out your opponents to get them to be short, and then BOOM. You win. Why? FOOTWORK. TEMPO CHANGES. That's critical. You need to have that locked down (and it's a lifelong process in order to own the strip. And YOU want to own the strip. That strip is YOURS. And you are not going to let somebody take it from you.

    Make sense?
     
  18. Montoya

    Montoya DE Bracket

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    The column is good. The gratuitous, gendered commentary at the end is not.

    "* Interestingly, the success or failure of these challenges often plays out socially. Any savvy teenage girl can tell you that, generally, the best fencers are higher up the “fencing social ladder” at competitions and the weaker fencers are lower."


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  19. Claire Pittet

    Claire Pittet Rookie

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    Thanks ! Yes, it makes sense. When I say aggressive I also meant in the sense not passive. I know you shouldn't fence with anger. But I should indeed work on my tempo changes.
    Just one thing, I see how you can trick your opponent with your footwork and tempo and it’s probably the most important element, but is there also some things or tips to do with the blade ? Somebody once told me that when I fenced, I had good footwork, but I didn’t provoke enough my opponent with my blade.
     
  20. Redblade

    Redblade DE Bracket

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    re dominance in the referenced blog post:
    The observation is true ... except for examples where it's not. Like when two fencers of equal ability face each other, and the loser doesn't feel dominated at all. Confident athletes don't have to *dominate* anyone; they're simply as good as they need to be. An alpha-beta outlook on life works for some personalities, but they rarely look deeper for a source of confidence that doesn't rely on pushing someone else down.
     

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