re-post w/revisions: TACTICS 1

re-post w/revisions: TACTICS 1

Post by David William Glass » Mon, 06 Mar 1995 06:39:20

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I still get requests for the five part tactical series I posted on rsf last
year, so I've decided to post it again, part-by-part.  This is a revised,
somewhat expanded version of the earlier article.    The original is still
to be found in its entirety on the ftp site:

For now, here follows the first of five parts.   I hereby place the
following in the public domain:

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Tactics and Strategy in Fencing  

        Tactics may be regarded as the considered application of technique  
in order to defeat an opponent.  A good fencer will take into account both  
his own capabilities and tendencies and those of his opponent.    

Vicarious reconnaissance  
        A good time to study an opponent's tactics is when he is fencing  
with someone that has a style similar to your own.  In a real sense, someone  
else is then out there doing your reconnaissance and taking the risks for you.    
It may be that there is no other fencer in your pool with a style similar to  
yours.  Even so, there is much that you can observe and deduce by watching.    

Many fencers have a very limited game and will simply employ the same actions  
over and over again against any and all opponents.  Such fencers are often  
very fast within a narrow technical range and thus can pose a threat to an  
opponent with a broader technical repertoire if that opponent doesn't employ  
effective tactics.    

Strategy and the phases of the bout  
        Strategy is the implementation of tactics throughout the phases of  
the bout.  This can include elements of camouflage (the Germans call it
"Tarnen") with which you can mislead your opponent in his assesments of your
strengths and weaknesses.  In general, there are often three phases in a
fencing bout:    

Active reconnaissance  
        Assuming you do not already have a good idea of what to expect from  
your opponent, that you are bouting with someone whose fencing is as yet  
unknown to you, you should begin the bout by doing some reconnaissance.    
Such reconnaisance is very important in the longer bouts of direct
elimination; but even in a typical preliminary round five touch bout,
reconnaissance can be very useful.  In reconnoitering, a fencer's actions
are usually executed from beyond critical distance, usually the distance
of a healthy lunge.  Discover tendencies in the opponent to favor particular
parries, tempos, thrusts, and preparations.  How does he use distance? How
does he like to time things?  How does he move the blade?  As you begin to
observe and assess your adversary, you will begin to select the tactics you
want to use against him.  As you develop these ideas you may want to guide
your reconnaissance accordingly.  Depending on your game, you could test your  
opponent to see how he deals with engagements, changes of engagement, feints,  
prises de fer, lines, presses, invitos, etc.  Do so in a conservative and  
straightforward fashion.  Be prepared to defend yourself well, using a  
retrograde defense.  How does your opponent use distance?  How does he move?    
How does he maintain his balance?  How quickly does he act?   Does he like
his bladeplay small and controlled?  Does he like to make large movements
with the weapon?  These are some of the many questions you might try to find
answers to by reconnaisance.

        Don't try too hard to hit your opponent during your reconnaissance,
but rather probe, move, observe, and plan.  While you are reconnoitering,
remember that he may be doing the same to you.  

Waging the tactical fight          
        In a second phase of the bout boldly and cleverly apply your tactics.  
Here is where you really work on getting points.  Learning what works well  
against what and how best to seize the initiative is part of the experience  
of fencing.  As you become a more seasoned fencer you will get better and  
better at this.  Use what you know to best advantage.  Do not allow  
disappointment to cloud your thoughts.  Cultivate a clear tactical mind.    
If what you are doing tactically is not working, realize why.  It may be  
that a subtle change in timing or distance may make all the difference.    
It may simply be that you have misjudged your opponent.  He may have  
camouflaged his strengths and weaknesses from you.  Be prepared to re-assess  
your tactics and make decisive changes.  Never despair!  There is always  
something more that you could learn that will help you improve.    

A loss of momentum          
        A third phase sometimes occurs at the end of the bout.  In this  
phase, one fencer or the other has a significant lead over his opponent and  
begins to fence conservatively.  In effect, he loses some of his boldness.    
This is usually a mistake.  If the type of fencing that you are doing is  
working, don't change it.  Conversely, if what you have been doing is not  
working or has ceased working, do not stubbornly persist in it; it may be
that your opponent has adjusted his tactics to what you've been doing and
will defeat you unless you change what you've been doing. A good fencer
is tactically and strategically flexible.      

After the bout  
        After the bout, whether won or lost, give thought to what happened  
that shaped the result.  Do not distress yourself with negative feelings if  
you lost.  If the victory was yours, know the reasons why.  Resolve to  
improve, always improve.  The struggle is indeed within, not without.    

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

David Glasser