Monday, April 11, 2005

Four Tips for Beginning Fencers

1) There are no quick results.

Most beginning fencers usually have problems with learning how to fence because they don't know how to take a fencing lesson, or how to translate the lesson into actual execution when sparring. Unless beginning fencers have an extensive dance or martial arts background, they have difficulties in getting their bodies to do an action in a consistent manner. If they try to fence entirely with intuition and energy, they typically become frustrated and prone to injury. This learning how-to-learn process can take a long time (in my case years). Most beginning fencers who want to get better at their game should look at spending four years to learn and become comfortable with the fundamentals.

2) Individual lessons are only part of fencing.

Fencing is both an individual and group activity individual skills and techniques is important, but so is learning how to use them in the fencing setting of drills and sparring. Fencing also has its own traditions, and beginners who show respect for fencing, their instructors, and fellow club and teammates, often earn more respect and learn a more important lesson than if they won all their fencing bouts but lacked courtesy and sportsmanship.

3) Fencing is about persistence and work.

Talent offers a head start, but in time can turn into a handicap. All fencers hit a plateau (it feels more like a wall) where they feel they can't get to that next level. It's tough and frustrating, especially when it comes to giving up points in club sparring while trying to get that hang of a new technique or strategy. What fencers have to do is trust in their discipline of training and practice, and eventually they can make a break though.

4) Fencing is fun.

Learning how to fence is about using the mind and body in new and different ways and having fun while doing it. Some beginners become interested in historical fencing, others take up serious competition, most are happy to show up a club and work up sweat. They all enjoy what they are doing and feel good afterwards. Fencers who aren't having fun should go back in their mind to their beginning days and re-discover what made fencing so compelling.

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