Fencing has the Greatest Footwork!

Discussion in 'The European Art of Fencing' started by Kane, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. Kane

    Kane Black Belt

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    About a couple of years ago I thought of how cool it would be to make a martial art. So I decided to think of a MA that fits to me perfect, and I thought it should fit well to everyone else’s style as well. While I was thinking about how the stance is going to be I thought of fencing's stance and footwork. It is one of the best in my opinion. It really takes advantage of the human legs to its fullest extent. It is very flexible even if you don't have a rapier in your hands. Just using the fencing stance as a boxing/kickboxing or even a fighting stance I wondered why no other martial art has the killer footwork of fencing.

    Then some time later I found that Bruce Lee stole my idea before me for his Jeet Kune Do. :shrug: I thought to myself "Damn, my idea has already been taken." and gave up making a martial art for a while.

    Does anyone else know about the fencing stance and footwork and does it fit your body well? Bruce Lee thought is was great so that must mean something comsidering Bruce Lee practiced Asian martial arts and therefore would be more closed at times to Western Martial Arts.
     
  2. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    Fencing stance is too sideways, this leaves your lead leg and side too open for my tastes. It als makes it very difficult to counter a takedown, you can't properly sprawl from that position.

    Fencing footwork only has two directions, forward and back. Circling around your opponent is not an option.

    conclusion - It needs a lot of modification, and when you are done it's not really fencing stance and footwork anymore.
     
  3. Adept

    Adept Master Black Belt

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    Andrew pretty much nailed it. Even Bruce Lee didnt use a fencing stance without modifying it into a common fighting stance. There is a reason the basic fighting stance is used in nearly every martial art, and that is because it works.
     
  4. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    The shuffle step is excellent. I use it often.
     
  5. Ping898

    Ping898 Senior Master

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    I fenced for a few years in college, footwork isn't perfect for MA, but I found it useful for getting some more strength in my legs in a different format and agree with Flatlander, that the shuffle step from it is great. I use that a lot too. And fencing isn't only backward and forward, technically you can most side to side and at angles. I did a lot of diagonal lunging attacks. I think fencing itself also helped me work on finding openings since depending on the weapon you are using can be hard to find and with not being able to see someone's face worked on trying to find other tells to know when someone would attack.
     
  6. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    Traditional fencing footwork is great for knifework...

    Paul
     
  7. bignick

    bignick Senior Master

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    tulisan is correct on that...there is a white belt in my judo class who's dad was a fencing instructor and he's been fencing since about the time he could walk...

    one night, sensei gave him a rubber knife and let him have a go at some of the senior black and brown belts....they recieved a slight ego modification that night...
     
  8. achilles

    achilles Green Belt

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    The stance does need to be modified for the following reasons:

    1) the groin is open if the lead foot is pointing straight ahead ( a little turn inward does the trick
    2) since the rear hand is not part of the offense in fencing (really only used for balance) you need to bring the rear shoulder, hip and foot out and forward a bit to make them accessible
    3) the manner in which fencers hold their head, and thus their chin, needs to be changed when impact matters

    What fencing does bring to your fighting is absent in most other martial arts, namely control of timing, tempo and distance. Many martial artists just stand in front of each other and trade punches, hoping that they either can miraculously block more or have a stronger chin than their opponent. Fencing's lunge and fencing measure concept offer its exponents a means to safely use distance and the threat of a stop hit to avoid this problem. Furthermore, fencing has developed in such a manner that quick, efficient offense by virtue of econmic, gap-closing tactics is a staple of the sport. Not wading in rhythmically, but explosive forward movement. The contrast between a well executed lunge and the simple shuffle step advance employed by most martial artists is staggering.

    Regarding body positioning, many martial artists today stand too square and offer up too much of their body as a target. This tidbit was first expressed by boxers I trained with and then affirmed by my fencing training; why present more target surface area than necessary?

    It seems that fencings linear footwork combined with boxings lateral and circuluar footwork is a hard combination to beat.
     
  9. Bod

    Bod Purple Belt

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    I understand why you pose this question, because I box, but it really presupposes that you are either boxing, fencing or similar. Once grappling comes into play, or you get on the inside in boxing, it all changes. Sometimes a wide-legged 'horse stance' is appropriate, because you are using your opponent for front-to-back balance and you want to spread your legs out sideways. Also attacking with an exagerated front foot forward stance opens you up to devastating footsweeps, the momentary loss of balance sets you up to massive power punches, or throws.

    Also, when fighting multiple opponents stability against an unseen shove or blow from the side makes a big difference. In these situations backtracking like you can in boxing or fencing is not an option, it's forward, forward, forward (and around).

    Still, I think the in-and-out style, and the stance and footwork that goes with it is an important tool, but how much target you show to your opponent is not the only consideration in fighting generally, it just happens to be very important in boxing and fencing, and one-on-one fighting.
     
  10. achilles

    achilles Green Belt

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    Of course the stance must change when grappling is involved, but one does not necessarily have to be in a grappling structure constantly. The common squared up stance espoused my so many kick boxing and grappling enthusiasts (which I am of sorts) has its merrits, but the short-comings are also plenty. The lack of efficient centerline control and groin protection are the most obvious, not to mention that an overly squared stance is not conducive to a lunge. I think there is certainly a time to square up when fighting, however, I think this a function of range and it is not difficult at all to transition from a more narrow, closed position to a facing position when in close quarters where it is more appropriate. And while on the topic of the ability to transition between body positions, it is not difficult to slightly modify the lunge to make it more efficient for empty hand stand up fighting (JKD's push shuffle is my favorite example). I'm not suggesting a fully sideward position such as used by Bill Wallace (although that seemed to work very well for him in that environment), but a sort of mean position as opposed to the full facing, square position.

    I agree that if one were to strictly adhere to fencing form (as far as my understanding goes) it would not be terribly efficient for standup fighting, especially when grappling is involved. The same seems to be true if one were to strictly adere to the form of boxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu or muay thai in mma (albeit to a lesser degree considering the nature of the contrast); the systemic idiosynchrasies (sp?) are such that they are not efficient when elements outside of their conventional arena are introduced. However, just as the latter have been modified to function in the mma arena, so too can fencing technology be modfied for empty hand combat. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, why not make the baby useful?
     
  11. someguy

    someguy Master Black Belt

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    I dang said already umm..ok no more leaving this place.
    Well fencing has its good points. But taking it and tosing in other stuff then what do you have. ?
    Well If you take a barrel of a rifle with the handle of a hand gun and various other parts of guns mixed in what do you get? Well you will have a really weird gun.
    So my point is things have a place that they are good at. I like leaving them there. Sure it worked for Bruce. Heck if I said anything bad about him I would probably have about 1 million negitive rep points.
    Anywho don't take anything I say to seriously. And have fun.
     
  12. Sin

    Sin 2nd Black Belt

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    also it would be a wise decision...if your going to make up your own art.....Study differant styles and weave them in together.
     
  13. Zepp

    Zepp Master of Arts

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    The fencing classes I took in college gave me excellent exercise in controlling my footwork. You've just got to keep in mind that in modern fencing, the stance you use remains the same more or less for the entire match. In other martial arts, you change your stance according to the situation, so you don't want to make a habit of getting stuck in one only stance.
     
  14. Kenpodoc

    Kenpodoc 2nd Black Belt

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    Fencing has the greatest footwork for fighting in hallways. Elsewhere it is too linear. useful to understand but limited.

    Jeff
     
  15. Bod

    Bod Purple Belt

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    Achilles I agree with you. I'm not for throwing this baby out with the bathwater.

    When I was a beginning Martial Artist I used to change stances at every opportunity, as if I could 'pose' my opponent into sunmission. Now I am beginning to understand what stances work best in which situations, I'm using them more sensibly.

    If this was a 'horse stance is just the best' thread, I'd be coming from the opposite direction.

    Stance and footwork threads are always useful, because footwork is the much neglected underpinning of self defence.
     
  16. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    Just note here...traditional fencing is not as limiting or linear as modern sport fencing...

    :supcool:
     
  17. I want to Point Out something about western fencing besides footwork the styles targets, (wrist/diable vs kill) and the whole F/E/S etc adaptations are based on time place, armor worn, and A Weapon you Could Use in Public.
    I like Foil for speed, kill focus, etc but weapons training shold be defensive first these days unless your talking guns, knives, or empty hands.
    Although this looks fun I don't think is grounds for a new school :)
     
  18. Kenpodoc

    Kenpodoc 2nd Black Belt

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    Agreed, and it's a lot more fun.

    Jeff :ultracool
     
  19. Kenpodoc

    Kenpodoc 2nd Black Belt

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    I wondered why no other martial art has the killer footwork of fencing.

    Back on topic. I think that American Kenpo does include the "killer" footwork" of fencing. I'm sure other arts do also. When I started EPAK I noticed that the footwork I had learned fencing was included and expanded on. I don't think that the footwork is unique, it's just that there are only so many ways to move your feet. Kenpo did systemetize the footwork and provide the language to describe your movement.

    Jeff
     
  20. achilles

    achilles Green Belt

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    The gun analogy posted earlier is not valid. Throughout my posts I've discussed modified fencing technology (particularly with boxing factored in and wrestling as well). Of course you must carry your self differently than the typical fencer if you are going to sprawl (or use your rear hand for that matter). I still contend that fencing's footwork concepts, perhaps in a more abstract sense, are the missing component to many systems whose footwork consists of little more than lumbering around or dragging their feet. Most martial arts spend the vast majority of their time pontificating on what they will do when engaged with the opponent, or how they will enter on an opponent who is for the most part staying still waiting to be attacked. Fencing is one of the few arts that has actually addressed the crucial elements of timing and distance that make successful entry/leading possible rather than leaving in up to chance.

    Regarding "stances," and this is more of an argument of semantics, I think there is a point when having lots of stances is ridiculous. In fact, the idea of a stance is kind of obsolete. The position one's body takes should adapt to the opponent. A stance is a fixed thing, and while I agree their are certain positions that are more efficient at certain times, I think it is difficult to have a static posture (a stance as it were) that can adequately adapt to the changing nature of a fight. Granted, one might be able to come up with a mean position (typically called a fighting stance; however, there is still much variety even in our conceptions of that), but think of all the minor adjustments that occur even in such a stance. With all of those tactical variations of puting a little more weight one one foot or carrying one hand a little higher, imagine the infinitude of categorizing all the stances one may use. Pedagologically, I think the idea of certain mean positions (stances) are a useful illulsion, but an illusion none the less. Furthermore, the more fixed stances one is compelled to use means more things to process which means slower reaction and a hightened liklihood of telegraphing. For example, if a particular art uses one stance for kicking and another for punching, you have already given away a lot of your intent simply by assuming your posture. A mean position which requires the minimum deviation for the maximum number of tools and tactics seems to be more efficient.

    Concerning the business of creating eclectic styles, all styles are eclectic. Even the traditional styles were eclectic sets of tools, tactics and principles the founder subscribed to. They didn't exist independently as some archetype waiting to be discovered, they are mental artifacts. All that makes today's "eclectic stylists" or "mixed martial artists" different is that they are often more open with the fact that they train with different people and may or may not be less attached to creating a new brand name of martial arts.
     

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