Sunday, December 5, 2010

Murphy's Laws of Fencing - Henry Version


There have been many different versions of "Murphy's Laws". Each one of these is focussed on the particular topic to which it is directed. These are a way to gain some amusement from these topics while at the same time learning something about the topic. Many of the lists have some hidden truths in them as well.

There should be no surprise that for the most part each particular area will have its own and fencing is no different. There are many variants of Murphy's Laws of fencing. This is a list which I have assembled based on other lists and also on my experiences in fencing. This will have the laws as well as a little bit of an explanation about where this particular law comes from. In this way, it is hoped that these will be a source of amusement and education simultaneously.

1. If the opponent is within distance, so are you.
2. If you have a tempo, so does the opponent.
Laws one and two are about timing and distance, these are the two key concepts in fencing of all kinds. The important thing here is that they are fluid and what you have the opponent can take, or will also have at the same time. Remember to use these to your advantage.

3. The opponent will attack either when you are ready or when you are not.
4. If you are not attacking, expect your oppoenent to be.
If you are on guard in front of your opponent, expect that they will attack at their convenience, and not yours. This means you need to be prepared at all times. If you do not have the opponent on the defensive then he will take the opportunity to attack you.

5. Incoming attacks always have the right of way.
Make defence a priority against incoming attacks, the opportunity for riposte or counter should be secondary to not being struck

6. What can be seen can be hit.
If you leave an opening in your defence, expect it to be struck. Likewise even if it is covered, it can be uncovered and hit.

7. If your attack is going well, your opponent is using second intention.
8. The only plan to rely on is to strike the opponent while not being struck yourself.
9. If you have read your opponent, he has read you.
Plans are awesome in fencing, but remember that the opponent will also have a plan. Expect that your opponent will have some sort of counter to your attack, and you should plan to counter that.

10. Secret Blows, aren't.
11. Ultimate killing moves, aren't.
12. The brilliant technique you just learnt has a counter.
13. There is no complex action which cannot be countered by a simple response.
The botta secreta (secret blow) is effective until it is used, therefore it can never be used. Once it is used people will learn it and counter it. There is no technique in fencing which cannot be countered in some fashion. Usually the counter to the action is very simple.

14. You need to know the simple before the complex is useful, but you will only realise this later.
15. The lesson that you need now is the one that will be taught at next week's training session.
16. There is never enough time between tournaments.
17. You will wish you had drilled more.
Training is important, unfortunately for many of us, we only realise that it is the simple stuff which is the most important. It works and it is the basis for the complex stuff. There is always something else to learn, and there is never enough time to learn it all properly.

18. If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.
19. Professionals are predictable, it's the amateurs that are dangerous.
Eighteen is one I stole from Murphy's Laws of Combat Operations as it applies to fencing as well. This one is about the unpredictable and unbelievable. Both are dangerous to the fencer. The experienced fencer has a pattern, the beginner for the most part doesn't, and it is that which makes them dangerous.

20. You are always too subtle or too obvious in your feints.
21. What you think is a feint is a real attack.
Feints are a useful technique when done properly. They are also a problem when used against you. Learn how feints work and what they look like, even if you don't use them, you can figure out how to counter them.

22. Anything you do can get you hit, including doing nothing.
23. Be too focussed on defence and you won't attack.
24. Be too focussed on attack and you won't defend.
Actions in fencing need purpose, but they also need to be tempered with their opposite. You need to act against your opponent, but you need to do this with thought behind it.

25. Your next opponent will always be faster.
26. Progression in a tournament is inversely proportional to the amount of energy you have left.
27. There is always one more round to fence than you expected.
These three apply mostly to tournaments. As you get tired your opponents will seem faster, as such you need to preserve some of your energy for later rounds in tournaments. Of course, you should always be sure when the tournament is finished, or when you have been knocked out.

28. Your gear will always wear out just after you have worn it in.
29. The borrowed sword is always less comfortable than your own.
Equipment is of great importance, and your own equipment more so. The nature of equipment is that as it gets worn in it will wear out. Always remember to bring all of your own and keep it in good condition as no gear will be as comfortable as yours. This is your responsibility.

30. A cluster of bruises is Nature's way of telling you that you have a hole in your defence.
If you seem to always get hit in the same spot, you should probably have a teacher check out what you are doing and what you are not doing in order to get hit there constantly. This is something that you should be aware of.

This is a list of thirty laws which came to my head. They have been clustered them in order not to give explanations for all of them and thus take a large amount of space. They have also been clustered them in order to put the like-laws together so that they can focus on a single aspect of fencing.

There are, no doubt, more laws of this kind that can be applied to fencing. As things proceed there may be another blog which includes more of them, but they will be named as "Henry's Laws of Fencing", rather than Murphy's. These are, after all the ones which I relate to the most and have thus collected together. Consider this list, examine them, you never know, you may find something useful.