08 July, 2011
How to Practice Fencing by Yourself
Fencing is first and foremost a combat sport, meaning that it takes two players in order to compete. But just because you don't have a partner doesn't mean you can't practice your form and footwork on your own. By creating drills and exercises for yourself, you can continue to hone skills like sword control, footwork and lunging. Keep your practice drills interesting so that your solo practices won't seem too dull as you sharpen your game.
Practice lunges in front of a mirror. The lunging motion is one of the most important foundation moves in fencing. Stand in front of a mirror and slowly move into lunge position. Notice any problems with your form. Hold your foil and parry toward the mirror and check your form again, noting anywhere that you could improve. The purpose of a lunging drill is to learn to quickly recover from a thrust position to an on guard position -- it should feel light and recovery should be quick, notes the American Fencing Academy.
Hang a tennis ball at chest level from the ceiling. Practice sword control by attempting to thrust toward the ball and hitting it with the tip of your sword. Since it's a small target, this may be challenging. If you don't find it challenging enough, replace the tennis ball with a smaller object, like a rubber or gold ball, and repeat. Stop the ball from swinging each time you make contact before trying again. Continue to practice your sword control by standing a sword's length away from a doorknob or small object and drawing a circle around the shape.
Work on your footwork by creating drill combos that string together a number of defensive positions and offensive returns at once. Fencing.net suggests doing each sequence for two minutes, with a rest of one minute between each sequence. Start with an advance/advance-lunge/on guard sequence, focusing on form and the light, balanced lunges that you've perfected in the mirror. Then, try a jump forward-lunge/redouble/on guard. Always return to your on guard position no matter what the sequence.
Improve your parries by reducing your ability to retreat. Place a block behind your back foot as a reminder that you can't step backward. Then, practice a completely offensive sequence where you are unable to retreat. With the option of moving back removed from the equation, you are forced to think of sequences that you may not have considered before, which is ideal for improved offensive movements when sparring with a partner or competitor.
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