During last Thursday’s practice we were introduced to the Short Tactical Wheel. There is a Long Tactical Wheel, but we will address that at a later time. The Tactical Wheel defines how to defeat particular actions, beginning with the simple attack. As shown above, the direct attack is defeated by a parry-riposte, which is defeated by a feint-attack, which is defeated by a counterattack, which is defeat by an attack, which is defeated by a parry-riposte, etc. Thus, reducing fencing to little more than a physical game of paper, rock, and scissors.
The tactical wheel provides a good framework for understanding fencing actions but is NOT all there is to know about fencing actions. It gives us a good starting point to help us grasp the beginning concepts of fencing tactics. Here is a brief explanation of each of the points on the Short Tactical Wheel:
Simple Attack: an attack executed as one quick action (is defeated by…) Parry and Riposte: defending with the blade and/or distance, and then attacking (which is defeated by…) Compound Attack: an attack executed with multiple “feints” to close distance and draw out the final parry (which is defeated by…) Counter Attack/Attack on Preparation: a timed Simple Attack into the early, non-threatening phase of the Compound Attack
Do you have friends and family members who ask you about fencing? Since it’s a sport that you don’t normally find televised on a Monday night, I’m sure that you’ve gotten questions from time to time. If so, pull them in front of the screen, sit them down, and watch the following video put together by the Royal Arts Fencing Academy in Columbus, Ohio:
Once in a while when talking with someone who is unfamiliar with the sport of fencing, I’ll get the question, “Why fencing?”
Not intending to be a wisecracker, my initial response usually would be, “Why not?”
There are dozens of way to stay active and to exercise, even hundreds. However, I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy exercising for the sake of exercising. I could never run just to run. I needed a soccer ball to chase after in order to run. I like to be mentally engaged in my physical activities, and if I happen to get physically fit in the process, so much the better!
Fencing improves flexibility, reflexes, speed and agility that provides a well-rounded form of mental and physical exercise essential for total health and wellness. Additionally, fencing promotes sportsmanship and fuels the desire to excel in different fields of life. A fencer is able to make quick and strategic decisions and has a better focus and level of concentration.
I could go on and on, but in the end you should find your own reasons and your own answer to the occasionally repetitive question “Why fencing?”