Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Skill Application - or, Please Parry

It is rather obvious to me that one of the greatest obstacles in understanding how fencing works is transferring knowledge from practice and drills into an actual bout. I can do drills and do them well (I think) all day long. 1) Memorize a pattern. 2) Do it slow. 3) Do it fast. Even when working with a partner it's no problem.

But see, where fencing deviates from other sports that I have been involved in is that the drills are a far cry from the real thing.

If I want to improve my flyball-catching skills then someone hits me fly balls over and over and I catch them. In a softball game the balls will come at about the same speed as they will in practice.

If I want to improve my field goal percentage in basketball, I'll make a 1000 shots a day. And in a game, the hoop is still in the same place and the ball is still the same size.

(Of course there are other factors to consider as well and I admit to over simplifying to help me make a point, but who's writing this thing anyway?)

But in fencing...Well, you know right? Different opponents who have different target areas and different action and reaction times. Which brings to me to today's title (at last). Sparring against other beginners is frustrating. How am I supposed to learn to be all tactical and whatnot and learn to apply the move I just learned if my sparring partner doesn't react to it?

Look - I thrust, you parry, I parry back and hit you real quick!

No parry.

Now, I understand this is the nature of learning and I do not claim to be innocent of this inaction myself. But this is why it is infinitely more satisfying to spar with a coach. But I think I will save coaches for tomorrow when we also delve into how it is that coaches seem to be such handsome people - and are, of course, impervious to flattery.

update on my right foot: it still won't point straight.

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