Beginners' Course Moving On Up
We hope you have enjoyed learning to fence in our beginners' course and that you would like to carry on next term. Learning to fence well requires both time and regular practice, but is rewarding in both the mental and physical effort required to win against a tricky opponent.
This note recaps on what we covered during the course. It also gives some tips for improving, trying the different fencing weapons.
The beginners' course covers the basics of foil fencing:
If you have missed any of this, then it would be a good idea to ask our coaches to show you.
- Safety precautions
- On-guard position and holding the weapon
- Footwork: steps forwards and backwards, lunge
- Attacks: direct, indirect: disengage, cutover, counter-disengage
- Parries: lateral, semi-circular, circular, and the corresponding repostes
- Rules: target area, right of way, fencing courtesy
- Fencing positions: sixte, carte, octave and septime.
Improving Your Fencing
We would very much recommend that you move on directly to fencing with the electric equipment. Mixing with more experienced fencers is one of the best ways to learn. Try to take it philosophically if you suffer a crushing defeat at the hand of one of our better fencers! This can be a good time to ask for a tip. Footwork, correct distance and posture, and neat small movements of the blade using the fingers all make a big difference. Fencing well requires patience, good observation and a cool head.
You should also ensure you have regular sessions with our coaches. These will help you to brush up on the skills you've learned on the course. Over time the coaches will teach you additional techniques:
- Footwork: step lunge, fleche
- Beat attacks and prise de fer ("taking the blade"): bind, croisé, envelopment
- Compound attacks: 1-2, doublé
- Stop hits
- Pronated parries: seconde, prime, tierce.
Trying Different Weapons
During the course you learned foil fencing. We practice all three fencing weapons at the club: foil, sabre and epee. You may like to try each of these for a period of time to see which you prefer. It is a good idea to do this before buying most of your own equipment, as what you will need depends on which weapon(s) you take up. Our sabre and epee fencers will be pleased to show you the basics for their weapons. From time to time we also hold introductory sessions.
Sabre fencing uses a cutting action for the attack. Like foil, the right of way rule applies. The target is all parts of the body above the waist, with the exception of the hands below the wrist. This allows cuts to the arm or to the head in addition to the torso. The sabre on guard position is tierce.
Epee, like foil, is a thrusting weapon where attacks are made with the point. However there is no right of way rule. If both players hit at the same time it is called a double hit and both players get a point. The whole body is on target in epee, allowing the possibility of wrist and foot hits for example.
Before you buy your own foils or epees, we would recommend you try out both the traditional French grip (as used on the beginners' course) and the pistol grip. Many fencers find the pistol grip more comfortable and easier to use.