Lunge mechanics problem

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Steve Khinoy, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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    A young fencer with a good on-guard and good footwork has an odd problem with his lunge. From his really correct on-guard lands in an excellent lunge position, facing straight forward, front and back heel correctly aligned--but 6 or 8 inches to the right of his original line. what's the cause and what's the cure?
     
  2. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    I'm not a coach. But I would start with checking the alignment of the front foot with the rear. Many, many decades ago, my first fencing master always wanted us to keep the 2 feet at right angle to each other with the heels on the same line.

    When I lunge, I plant the heel to the floor. It sounds like your friend is pushing off the ball of his rear foot.
     
  3. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Question 1: What does "really correct" mean?
    If you're teaching from an older tradition that is demanding that the feet be in a precise alignment (usually heel-to-heel at right angles in most schools, but in some schools, it could mean front heel to back instep at right hangles) and the hips follow that alignment, you could be asking the student to take what is -- for them -- an unnatural position at the start of the lunge that is resolving itself in mid flight to achieve a more comfortable alignment on landing. Solution: let the student adopt a less "correct" but more natural on guard that keeps their knees and feet aligned but may not be at precise right angles or allowing the hips and shoulders to be more "open" and relaxed.

    Question 2: What is happening in the lunge mechanics? As dcchew mentions, your student may be pushing off with the ball of his rear foot. This is something you see in complete beginners and with very experienced fencers, the difference being that the very experienced fencers are pushing through the entire leg through lunge phase, and their back heel rises up because their back legs become "unloaded" at the end of the lunge. With beginners, they are simply lunging by arching their back foot and "falling" forward. This can cause rotation in midflight. Your student could also be tensing their shoulder or back while lunging, throwing them off balance and moving them in midflight. Solution: have the student make a progression of longer lunges at a slow speed, while watching them from a variety of angles. See if you notice any changes in lunge mechanics when the problem presents itself.


    TLDR: an emphasis on "correct" form rather than letting the body do what can do naturally, couple with poor lunge mechanics is usually the problem with this error.
     
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  4. Grey Sabreur

    Grey Sabreur Made the Cut

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    What are his hips doing during the lung? If they are correctly positioned at the beginning, is he swiveling them improperly during the lunge and correcting them after he lands? I had a young student that was so flexible his body 'wandered' all over the place when he moved and he had quite a challenge to become consistent.
     
  5. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    I've had similar issues with Y and University students. As some upthread mentioned, this may be the normal for them. If they aren't in danger of injuring themselves or others, it may fix itself as the student gets stronger. You can also point out to the student that they are landing short of their best distance, and that's costing them touches. Losing is a great motivator.

    I tell students that lunges are heel-to-heel, and have found the toe-glove toss to be helpful. If they are lunging straight, the glove goes directly forward and is immediate feedback.
     
  6. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    On guard does not need to be "heel to heel", and neither do lunges. A bit of offset is fine if it keeps the student comfortable. My own on guard and lunge is offset by a couple of inches, and my lunges still seem to go where they need to.
     
  7. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    Not lined-up. When you lunge, you push with your back heel, land with your front.

    edit: To further clarify, that's what I use to help the fencer not lunge with their toes. Some will use their toes, others will use their inner-foot. It's a handy mnemonic. I do agree that the en-guard is what feel comfortable with the feet in the correct orientation and allows correct movement.
     
  8. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Ah, I misunderstood. My apologies.
     
  9. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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    Let's get a discussion going!
    1) Why wouldn't you start the footwork of the lunge from the ball of your back foot? Aren't you losing power if you start from the heel? If the heel of your rear foot is off the floor while you are doing your advances and retreats, don't you lose time and power by setting the heel down?
    2) [Addressing my original question] I can see why starting off the ball of the rear foot might drive the front leg slightly off course to the right, but why would the rear leg follow?
    3) Allen, I agree completely that all positions that are taught need to be adjusted to suit the various capacities and inclinations of the fencer (as well as the demands of the actual situation!)
    3a) But when do you (or when does the student) transition from an idealized to an adapted and internalized form and execution?
    3b) For example, the raised rear arm, as a starting form in contemporary fencing, has a certain utility in helping develop other desirable traits, like not leading with the face. But it doesn't seem to be useful in itself, and almost all fencers and coaches drop it sooner or later. (I teach it some classes and not others, just to see if it makes a difference.)
     

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