Learning Curve

Mainly, but not exclusively for foil

Being able to assume en garde correctly.

Being able to advance and retreat correctly.

Being able to hold one's weapon correctly.

Being able to make an extension correctly.

Being able to land a touch correctly with one's opponent standing still.

Being able to make a parry correctly.

Being able to retreat while making a parry correctly.

Being able to see an attack coming after it has started.

Being able to see an attack as it starts.

Being able to parry an attack.

Being able to make a riposte.

Being able to initiate an attack.

Being able to feel the difference between an attack and a counterattack.

Being able to feel the correct distance for making an attack.

Being able to see an opening for making an attack.

Being able to understand priority.

Being able to tell the difference between a stronger and a weaker fencer.

Being able to finish one's attacks without trying to take a parry.

Being able to be patient, not rushing one's attacks.

Being able to relax in the midst of a bout.

Being able to see which parries one's opponent tends to make.

Being able to feel the distance as it changes from one moment to the next.

Being able to keep one's point on target throughout a bout.

Being able to make enough touches to win a pool (5-touch) bout.

Being able to understand why weaker fencers can sometimes beat stronger fencers.

Being able to assess the relative strength of one's opponent correctly.

Being able to change one's tempo during a bout.

Being able to sense one's opponent's tempo.

Being able to change one's attacks during a bout.

Being able to set up an action correctly.

Being able to sense how much time has passed in a bout.

Being able to understand why one's opponent was able to take the parry before one's attack could land.

Being able to make the counterparry in time to land the riposte.

Being able to tell the difference between rushing and being in control of the distance.

Being able to make an attack with disengage.

Being able to maintain concentration through the whole of a D-E (15-touch) bout. This is about where I am at the moment.

Being able to stay relaxed in the midst of a bout even when one is losing.

Being able to fake out one's opponent, drawing her attack with the expectation of taking a parry.

Being able to change the direction of one's attack purposefully so as to fake out one's opponent.

Being able to see the patterns in the way in which one's opponent prepares to make an attack.

Being able to sense the patterns in the way in which oneself prepares to make an attack.

Being able to prepare for an attack without letting one's opponent know that it is coming.

Being able to see one's opponent preparing for an attack before she even starts.

Being able to change one's attack so as to take advantage of one's opponent's weaknesses.

Being able to control the tempo of the bout.

Being able to control the distance such that one's opponent's attacks fall short.

Being able to make every action count.

After this, I'm not quite sure what happens; it's still a mystery to me. Do any of you know?

Comments

  1. I think the next step in the progression is perhaps to expand one's vision from the tactical to the strategic. For example, learning how to make the most of watching your pool-mates or pod-mates in their other bouts prior to fencing them yourself; learning how to pace oneself in early rounds of DE's in order to have enough gas to get through later rounds of DE's (but not get smoked early by underestimating lower seeds); learning how to categorize fencers into one of a relatively small number of "types" in order to quickly sort and identify their weaknesses esp. in pools; learning how to quickly spot and exploit not only the technical weaknesses of fencers but also their emotional weaknesses; etc.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I second what Fencerchica says about pacing - it's so hard to find that "sweet spot" in the energy curve so that you can keep going but don't slack at the beginning!

    Also, the mental stuff - specifically, how not to psych oneself out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Understanding that all of the above is constantly changing and that only a fencer that can bring it all together simultaneously without conscious thought will be able to succeed. Transcending the written idea and making it a part of you.

    When on the strip, no one should be thinking, "I must make an attack with disengage." It should be an instantaneous decision the moment the opportunity to disengage arises.

    How does one get to this point? Hundreds of hours of repetition, and millions of failures during competition, just for that one "AHA!" moment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Rob: well, yes, of course. One can't walk while looking at one's feet all the time. But saying "Just do it!" is hardly going to help e.g. the writer struggling with learning how to make his or her sentences have clear agents or how to move the argument from old ideas to new. "Learning Curve" was partly an exercise in reassuring myself how much I actually have learned and partly an exercise in thinking about how insight develops. In the end, as you say, when one is actually fencing, none of this is conscious anymore, any more than I have to think about where the "i" key is when I type. But there was a time when I had to to think about it and it was only by thinking about it that I actually learned where the key actually was. Sorry, too many metaphors there (walking, writing, typing), but I'm frustrated that nobody seems to be willing to acknowledge that learning to fence might have such clear stages, too. Ever since I started, I've been hearing people say the same thing: "Don't think, just do it!" I wonder how they would feel if I told them that was the way to learn to write. It's what I do now, after all: I "just write." Never mind all the years I spent learning the alphabet, learning to spell, learning how to write grammatically, learning how to structure an introduction, learning how to structure an argument, learning how to introduce evidence, learning how to grab the reader's attention, learning how to "just do it, just say what I think." Sure, that's what I do now, but that's hardly a fair description of what's going on when I do.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog post. I look forward to hearing what you think!

F.B.

Popular posts from this blog

The Witches of Salemville

Make the Middle Ages Dark Again