The fencer may become frustrated by the fact that success that they find on the strip is not as great as what they had hoped for. For a coach that cares, we offer cheer leading and words of wisdom. Cheer leading is of the moment. The words of wisdom should be the take away value that can last a life time…
Foot work is a highly under rated skill for most of today’s fencers. There are as many skills in foot work as there are in blade work. In fact, the better your foot work skills are, the simpler and more consistent your blade work can become. When you can execute the basic mechanical of foot work, there are many foot work skills that can be learned and introduced into your game, Understand that foot work is the simple mechanics of the actions, managing the distance between you and your opponent are the true goal of learning foot work.
Without foot work, how could you ever control the bout? Are you simply going to wait until an opportunity (read a fencer steps in close enough to hit) presents itself? Or do you want to create the opportunity? Hopefully your answer is “both!”. The former is more likely than the later. Creating an opportunity with foot work takes as much skill as creating the opportunity with the blade.
For now, lets look at simple foot work basics… Controlling your speed in managing distance is a key factor. Any speed from a dead stop, to an explosive, very long lunge. Forward acceleration comes from the back leg. Backward acceleration comes from the front leg. Falling forward or backward can involve the both legs, But it is falling, and everyone falls at the same speed (per Issac Newton). Therefore, if we agree to the assumption that a single leg controls and propels us at varying speeds towards or from the opponent, we must realize that leg strength is key to increasing explosive speed
I can teach the simple mechanics of a lunge, and the student can learn the mechanical actions of the lunge. Simple mechanics are just the beginning. Speed, acceleration, distance and timing are all aspects of skills required for excellent distance management.
The ability to have explosive foot work with sustained acceleration has direct value in improving the results of the game. We must acknowledge that we need to maximize our distance management skills. In order to increase your capacity to explode, you need to be more than fit.
Being fit is just a starting point. Being fit is NOT being athletic!
I wrote earlier that it is really one leg that gives you explosive acceleration. If you agree with the statement, then you must realize that one leg needs to move your entire body weight. Although everyone is different, my basic rule of thumb is that that each leg should be able to leg press 1.5 times YOUR body weight (12 reps). You CAN NOT get to this leg strength without going to the gym and weight training. If you get to this goal, you have no excuses for sitting down for the bout, and demonstrating explosive lunges on the strip. It also means that I can now successfully introduce you to the next level of footwork skills…
Foot work boot camp starts this week… I’ll cover more there!