This is not working, now what?


You’re up against Goliath, an epic fencing bout. You just scored two touches to a low line but now your diabolical opponent has figured you out. You do the following:

1) try again, harder and faster. The Superman approach

2) try something completely different. This is often the plot theme for Monty Python movies, if it’s no longer working, try something completely different. This is not as stupid as it sounds, well….

3) use the same set up but with second intention, IE use his known reaction to your attack as the basis for your final touch. The old, yes I’m stupid enough to try this again ….. Ha, I got ya with a twist ploy

Let us start with the more common first option. This seldom works, I mean really, Goliath has practiced this now, you taught her after all, she is ready for you (yes, Goliath could be a women, I think). You're not Superman BTW. Just stop it! Really!

Option two? Well certainly a better choice. Send you opponent in some random direction that is unexpected. This depends on surprise and excellent execution. How big is your “toolbox” of actions? How adept is your opponent to changing their game? This can be an effective option. Using a pre-planed attack that you have practiced till your fingers bleed may help. Sometimes even stupid things work. Contrast also works, so I often suggest going defense to offense or offense to defense. Drawing big (dynamic) actions can lead to success with small actions and drawing small actions can lead to success with big actions. Please remember to set up any actions with an understanding of needed prerequisites (the things needed to have a successful action, lets say for example an extended blade for a bind) or be much better then your opponent at hitting targets of opportunity .

Three, using our last action as the set up for a second intention, also sometimes known as capitalizing on your mistakes to sucker your opponent into a trap. A favorite here at “my epee coach”. Of interest is, we always seem to have lots mistakes to work with. Each mistake can become the foundation of a plethora of second intention actions. Now these mistakes are of two kinds, well executed actions that have been found not to work on this opponent or actions that did work but have been compromised, and of course, flubbed up actions, IE we just blew it, having a bad day actions. To develop these second intentions I suggest you start with drawing a reaction from your opponent, Here you can start with the action your opponent thinks, they have “got it covered” , and use this to make our opponent act as we wish and when we wish. This attack can be a simple or multi step (compound) proposition, depending on the opponent and the situation. A suggestion, keep your developed attacks at an appropriate level in relation to your opposition. Don’t overcomplicate, if they are not following your lead, well they may get bored and hit you

Are their other options? Well, there is always other options, but this is but a teaser, to get you thinking and preparing your actions in an efficient and timely way. Making good decisions is a vital skill in fencing. Practice this as you would anything else. Next time you find yourself in a “poor situation”, otherwise known as a mistake, ask yourself, Can I use this as a foundation for something a bit more sinister

coach Geoff