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Fencing and History Nut Extraordinaire. While I am tending toward 16th century at the moment, I am and have been interested in history for a long time. Hence the fencing focuses more on the Renaissance period than the modern. This explains two out of three of my blogs. The third is a more personal one focusing on fibromyalgia. What I write in these blogs, I hope will be of use to people.
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Building Co-ordination in Fencing

Greetings,

Co-ordination is important in fencing as such this blog will be discussing the development of co-ordination in its relationship to fencing. This blog will be partially written from a personal point of view as I have had some co-ordination problems myself. It is hoped that this blog will assist those with some co-ordination issues and realise it is an obstacle that can be surmounted given time and patience. The discussion proper will discuss the question of co-ordination in fencing from two points of view, the mental and the physical. Both of these are important in order to get over this particular hurdle.

Co-ordination or lack thereof can be a real problem in fencing. A lack of co-ordination can lead to elements in fencing being substantially more difficult than they otherwise would be. In the realm of the positive is the fact that it is possible to defeat this particular problem given the time and the patience applied to it. The trick is actually taking the time to figure out what is actually happening. Surprisingly enough for some, all fencing students will feel the bite of a lack of co-ordination some time in their fencing career. For some it may not last long for others it will last for a longer period of time.

This can be as simple as something that just does not work for some inexplicable reason. It is something that can be fought against and that can be defeated. While I do not tend to get very personal in these blogs, for this particular subject I think it is important that I explain some things about myself and the reason why I believe that this problem can be beaten. I am actually naturally uncoordinated. I have a history of being exceptionally clumsy and accident prone, and believe me when I say that I have the hospital records and scars to prove it. In my earlier years as a child I was clumsy enough that it was important enough for my parents to send me along to physiotherapy to get some physical therapy to help the problem. This is something that has plagued my whole life and still does to a point. The important thing here is that with time and patience it is something that you can overcome in fencing, it may just take a little more effort than other people.

There are two different aspects that need to be taken into account when considering the nature of being uncoordinated. The first is the mental side of things and the the second is the physical side of things. Both of these aspects need to be acknowledged in order for the process of dealing with the problem can start. The correct physical processes will train the body how to move. The correct thought processes will train the brain how to think about what is going on and what to do about it. It is the two working in combination that allows a person to master the problem presented.

The mental process of dealing with this particular problem is of great importance. The process, the way that I see things, has four elements or parts which are all important to the process. The first is acknowledgement. You need to acknowledge that there is a problem with what is going on. For some this can be an issue as they don't want to acknowledge that they have a problem. Without this particular step it is impossible to move on to solving the problem. Of course at the other end of the scale is those who obsess about the particular problem and this is equally unhelpful. This moves on to the second part of the mental process.

The second part of the mental process is a positive outlook. You must be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. It is not enough to believe that you can do it, you need to know that you can. This is the way that you fight frustration. You acknowledge each little victory. Take one step at a time and keep looking at where you are going. Without the positive mental outlook there is no point in starting the process as it is this that will enable you to keep going through the processes required. Of course, beating up on yourself won't help either.

The next part of the mental process is to start dealing with those negative thoughts that you may have about the process and your ability. You should only be thinking positive things about yourself in this process. Words like clumsy should not be used to describe yourself. These negative thoughts can poison the whole process of development of the skills required to beat the problem. It is actually quite difficult to stay positive about yourself the entire time. Yes, mistakes need to be acknowledged, but they also need to be turned around and used. Mistakes are just another way of not achieving the goal, and thus are a learning process. The reason why which is behind it is more important. This requires concentration, and this is something that is required.

Most of the time in life we do not particularly concentrate on what we are doing. This is because we already know what we are supposed to be doing and how the body is supposed to move. This is because these particular things have been learnt and practiced to the point that we don't have to think about them anymore. In order to defeat uncoordinated feelings, it is important that the focus needs to be on what you are trying to do. Each part of the action needs to be focused upon in order for it to all come together. Often when mistakes are made it is because the concentration has drifted somewhere else for a brief period of time. It is important for the learning process that the brain is trained to concentrate on what is happening. Distractions in this process can lead to problems with the action and also frustrations. In order to achieve the end desired we must be focused on the action being performed.

Once the elements of the mental process are dealt with, it is then possible to look at the physical. What is important is that the aspects of the mental process will reappear in the physical process. These two sets of concepts must work together in order for the end to be achieved. The physical aspects are about training the body in order that it can do what it is supposed to when it is supposed to. The important thing about this is that the actions have to be mentally set in the mind. You need to think about the action and focus upon it. Then the physical side of the action can be dealt with.

In the case of any action in fencing, or any action for that matter, you need to learn the action. In this particular process you need to be focusing on the movements that are being made. For some it will require listening to the description of what is required, and for others it will require watching the action closely. In this process it is important to pay attention to the small movements being made as well as the large ones. This focus will place the action into your mind before you attempt the action. The first time you attempt the action, do it slowly and have someone watch you doing it. Once you get the action correctly then it is time to practice and drill. At first it is best to practice the action alone so that you can train your muscles and tendons exactly what they are supposed to be doing. At the same time you should be going through the description of the action in your mind and making sure it matches up with what your body is doing. Practice the action slowly over and over until you are comfortable with it. Once you can do it comfortably alone you should be able to move on to doing the same action with a partner. Drill the action slowly with a partner to see how your action relates to theirs and how your movement relates to theirs. Once you are performing the correct response at slow speed you should begin to speed up. You should be remaining focused on the action that you are doing. Responses to this action and counters will come later. Remember it is all parts of the action that need to be thought about, the small actions and the large actions. Each element of the action needs to be learnt, practiced and drilled.

In the process of learning an action it is important to think about what you are doing and focus on this. All the elements of the action are important and you need to be able to feel how you are moving. In order to get these movements right you need to be focused on these actions rather than anything else. Find a partner who is willing to allow you to drill slowly so that you can feel the response of the opponent's blade as well. Be approaching the fencing action in this way you will be training both your mind and your body simultaneously. This will make it much easier to learn the action and get over any awkwardness in the action.

The unity of hands and feet in fencing is important they should be moved together and this may take some time for you to get your head around this concept, and get your body to do this. It takes some practice to get them to work together and if you only focus on one element the other will be left behind. In training a skill it is important that you get one movement completed first and then work on the other. In general while the hand should always move before the foot, training the feet first has its advantages. Work on the foot movement of the technique so that you are comfortable moving in this manner. Then once you are comfortable with this move on to the hand movement, first alone and then in combination with the foot movement. This division of an action into single movements is a great advantage when learning and this process can be applied to all actions in fencing.

All fencing actions can be divided into separate movements. This goes for the simplest as well as the most complex. For example, the thrust is actually the combination of the movement of the shoulder and the movement of the wrist. The shoulder moves the arm and the wrist moves the point to the appropriate target. In this way the movement can be practiced as two actions and then worked together to form a single motion. Movements in fencing should be stacked like bricks one building on the other, in this way you can focus on a single movement which will add to another and another until the technique is completed as a complete movement. This takes more time than attempting to do the whole technique as a single action, but it is better for the assimilation of the movement into a fencing routine. During this process it is important to accept the achievement of getting the technique right. This praise is useful as it motivates you to move on to more complex actions.

Being uncoordinated in fencing can be extremely frustrating as this may result in taking much more time in order to learn an action. The important thing is that with work it is not an insurmountable obstacle. It is important that you get your mind in the right place first and also your body. Work on the actions from a mental as well as a physical point of view. Work on the actions in simple terms, dividing a technique into individual actions and this will assist your process to learning them greatly. Take the time needed to learn the action before moving on to other things. There are people who can help you with this and who will be willing to take the time required, all you need to do is be able to find them, and also be strong enough in yourself to be able to ask for help in the learning of the actions.

Cheers,

Henry.