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Ideas for practicing footwork

Updated: Jul 20

As I mentioned in my previous post (http://sabrecoachkate.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/fencing-newbie-how-do-i-move-like-a-fencer/), it’s absolutely necessary to have small footwork in sabre. It’s also vital to practice it on a regular basis no matter how long you’ve been fencing. It doesn’t have to be a lot IF you practice it mindfully. Quality over quantity is definitely the way to go; three 10-minute sessions a week are preferable to hours of bad, sloppy practice.


Here are some ideas for practicing footwork:


1. Find a line. Put your entire front foot and the heel of your back foot on the line. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart in your on guard stance. Take three small advances. Look down to see if your front foot and back heel are still on the line. Make necessary adjustments. Repeat. When you can do thirty advances total without moving off the line, try sets of four advances.


2. Do the first exercise with retreats rather than advances.


3. Put your front foot and back heel on a line. Do a double-advance, then one retreat. Look down to see if your front foot and back heel are still on the line. Make necessary adjustments. Repeat.


4. Put your front foot and back heel on a line. Do a double-retreat, then one advance. Look down to see if your front foot and back heel are still on the line. Make necessary adjustments. Repeat.


5. To practice your lunge: put your back foot on a line. Extend your hand and lunge. Land on your heel, then put down your toe. Check to make sure your back leg is straight and that your front knee is directly above your front ankle. Make sure you have kept your back foot on the line without rolling or dragging it. When you are bouting, you will most likely do both of those things but keep practicing lunges in a controlled, deliberate manner. Make sure you can recover back to your on guard position with no difficulty. If it’s hard to get out of the lunge, you have gone too far.


6. Another way to practice your lunge: put a sabre on the ground. Come on guard behind it. Extend your hand and lunge over the foible. Land on your heel, then put down your toe. Check to make sure your back leg is straight and that your front knee is directly above your front ankle. Make sure you have kept your back foot flat on the floor. When you are able to do that, lunge over the middle. After that, the forte. Check your legs after each lunge to make sure they are in the proper position. Make sure you can recover back to on guard with no difficulty. If it’s hard to get out of the lunge, you have gone too far.


7. Once you can do good lunges over your sabre, put a quarter under your front foot. Push the quarter under the sabre as you lunge. Catch it with your front foot as you land. THIS IS REALLY HARD TO DO.


8. You can also practice footwork in an agility ladder. Emphasize precision moves, rather than speed. As you advance through the ladder make sure you are pushing off from your back foot and landing on your front heel. To retreat, push with the front foot and land on your whole back foot, not just the toes. I practice pushing with the front foot then bring the front foot down heel-toe. This has really cleaned up my footwork and had given me better control even though I won’t actually retreat that way during a bout.


Please let me know if you have any other ideas for practicing footwork. It’s not always fun but is absolutely necessary to fencing success.


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