Connect the dots

Today’s topic: where to make adjustments.

This is one of my big secrets; you’re in for a treat.


One of the novice fencer’s greatest challenges is getting used to the posture. Toes and knees tend to point every which way other than the way they’re supposed to face. I chalk this up to the fact that the postures we teach (hips very open) are very contrary to the way that we typically stand (hips closed).


Fixing things, however, may be less intuitive than you think. Toes facing the wrong way? Point them the right way. I’ve found that it’s simply not as simple as that.


In my own my practice I started as most: toes facing inward. Long after I thought I’d fixed this, and, (wisely!) returning to it for a check-in, I found that things weren’t as good as they could be. My front foot was, for the most part, pointing forward. But, I found that me knee was pulling to the inside. Not good. This was OK though; I had fixed my toes, I could fix my knee.


On a later check-in I found that things just weren’t how I wanted them to be. After some reflection and poking around I discovered that my foot and knee were never really the issue, and were never really corrected, as they are subservient to something else. Namely, my hip/upper leg. So, instead of trying to point my knee or my foot, I just tried to point my upper leg.


And voila.


The take home message: the extremities follow the core, not the other way around. If you want to fix a joint far from your torso, fix the joint that connects the far joint to your toros. Everything that extends from this close joint will naturally follow.


Try this with your off-hand when you’re lunging. Don’t bother trying to put your off-hand where you want it. Rather, put the joint that connects your off-hand to your torso where you want it.


devonboorman Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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