Plan A

It really isn't that complicated. Relax. Breathe. Visualize yourself on the strip. Think what it feels like to have your foil in your hand, your mask over your face, your body in on guard. Think what it feels like to hear the director say, "Fence." Look at your opponent. What is she doing now? Does she look tense? Relaxed? Ready? Sly? What kind of traps is she going to be setting for you?

Start moving towards her on the strip. How does she respond? Does she step back or in? Watch the distance on your tips. When the tapes cross, you are close enough to be hit--or to hit. Do something, don't just stand there. Play with her blade. Move in, move out. Take a beat and see if she responds. Take another beat with extension. Nothing yet? Make it a little more convincing, make her think you are going to attack. Attack!

Ah, she parried--which one? A four. Yes, she's right-handed, that's going to be her strongest parry. How to get around it? Should I even try to get around it? Slow down. Try pausing after the beat to give her time to parry--then disengage and hit! Back on guard. Breathe. Okay, now she knows your tempo, too. Time to think about changing. Back up a bit--or push if you've been holding back. Don't let her think she knows too much about you. Lull her into thinking that she knows what you are going to do, then change.

Oops. Thinking too long there, she got in around my parry. On guard. Now you know how fast she can move. Ah, she's pushing now that she thinks she knows your tempo. Let her push a bit, let her fall into your trap--aha! There is her attack--parry, riposte! She got stuck when she extended too far, and you made the hit. On guard again. Only three touches into the bout. You need to stay focused. She might still have more to try on you. You're both cautious now. She is expecting you to try beating the blade. Beat the blade, one. Beat the blade, two. She thinks you are going for a third--feint, disengage, hit! That's 3-1, your favor.

On guard again. She's worried now, going to try something harder, maybe try to surprise you by rushing her attack. What do you do when you're scared like this? Back up or go in? Ah, the doubt! She's hit me. 3-2. Need to focus again on how she's moving. Okay, I'm afraid now. I've used three of my main actions, need to think of another. What is she still leaving open? She's probably still expecting me to beat, so let's try a pressure-attack this time. But which way? Oh, if only I had planned this out before hand. Okay, think: pressure four might leave her open. Let's try that. Beat, small step, pressure, lunge! Hit. Thank goodness. Breathe.

4-2. On guard again. She's worried now, wondering how she is going to catch up. It's most likely she'll try a direct attack again. Keep moving, don't let her set it up, move in and out of distance. Is she pushing you? Push back a little, back up a little, move in and out. You have plenty of time. Loads of time. The clock still has a whole minute left on it. You're ahead, no need to push this. Just keep moving, keep playing with her blade, keep her guessing. Can you feel how excited you are? Breathe again, keep moving. Watch your distance. There--she's going to try making her attack. Parry, oops! Riposte off-target. But now she's thinking she can get it in next time, she's going to try the same attack again. Watch her, push--attack lands in prep! 5-2, your bout. Salute, shake hands. Breathe.

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