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Learn how to choose the best tactics for both 5 and 15 touch bouts.

Simple Attacks

Compound Attacks

Article by Craig Harkins of

See Fencing Glossary

By understanding the tactical progression of a bout, you will better understand how to choose the correct tactics for each situation in both 5 and 15 touch bouts. These strategy variations are applicable to all 3 weapons.

First Intention Attacks
The first "spoke" in the Tactical Wheel is the First Intention Attack. By definition, this is an attack that you launch in expectation of getting the touch on the attack. While the attacks in this section are all first intention, some are simple (one action) while others are compound (feint-deceive). The key to these drills are that your primary goal is to land the attack.

One other characteristic of a first intention attack is that the actions are "Forseen." This means that you know exactly what actions you will make up to the completion of your action.

Examples of Simple Attacks (Execute from Advance-Lunge Distance)
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L= Leader, P=Pupil. All drills assume same-handed fencers.

I. L: Enguard in 6

P: Advance-lunge to 4
L: Attempt Parry

Ia. Execute simple attack in I. but with P finishing in 7, 8, and 6.

II. L: Enguard in 6

P: Beat 4, Advance-Lunge attack to 4.
(make the beat on the back foot of the advance) (See "Beats, Tempo and Timing for an explanation.)
L: Attempt Parry

IIa. Execute this action but finish to 7 and 8.

III. L. Enguard in 6

P. Change-Beat 6, Disengage hit to 4 (with advance-lunge)
L. Attempt Parry 6 on beat

Now On to Composed, or Compound, Attacks.
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IV. The 1,2

L. Enguard in 6
P. Advance with feint to 4.
L. Retreat and parry 4.
P. Disengage to 6, Advance Lunge
L. Attempt Parry (6 or C4)

V. Double Attack

L. Enguard in 6
P. Advance with feint to 4
L. Retreat and parry counter-6
P. Disengage to 4, Advance-lunge
L. Attempt Parry (4 or C6)

VI. 1,2,3

L. Enguard in 6
P. Feint to 4
L. Parry 4
P. Advance with disengage-feint to 6
L. Retreat with Parry 6
P. Disengage to 4 w/Advance-Lunge
(Distance control is the key to this one. Once you have it down, try this one with some circular parries.)

VII. Finishing

L. Enguard 6
P. Begin Advance with extension
L. Extend and Lunge
P. Finish the extension and hit with proper distance
(Short lunge or advance)

VIIa. P. Begin Advance with extension to 4

L. Counterattack with Inquartata
(Extend arm while turning body to "flatten" it and take away your 4 target)
P. Finish to low-line target (below the arm)

VIIb. P. Begin Advance with extension to 4

L. Counterattack by ducking/squatting
P. Finish with hit to top of shoulder (or flick)

Now that you have a few attacks to start with, it's up to you to expand on these drills and try out attacks to different target areas and with the leader executing different parry sequences. As with any drill that you do, discuss what the actions will be, run through the first 2 or three repetitions slowly, and then speed up execution as you get more comfortable.

Once you are comfortable with the execution of two individual drills, you can have the leader choose which set of actions to go with and mix up the drills as you go. This keeps you alert to what your opponent is doing rather than going into autopilot with a move.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright 2001

Forseen, Partially Forseen, and Unforseen Actions

If you are making a straight lunge, then you are making a "Forseen" action. If you are marching down the strip making multiple feints and waiting until the final second to choose your target, then you are making a "Partially Forseen" action. If, in the middle of your attack, your opponent executes a counter-attack and you react with a parry/riposte, then your actions were "Unforseen."

All Edged Weapons, Battle Ready or Not, May Injure,
Kill and/or Become Damaged if Used Improperly

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© Copyright 2002