I was doing some drills with a fellow student last week and noticed an interesting phenomenon.
The drill was as follows:
- Agente controls Patiente’s weapon
- Patiente disengages to strike
- Agente strikes in contratempo
I was the Patiente for the drill. I gave my partner a few tries to get warmed up in the drill and then acted a little more martially to drive my partner’s actions towards being as efficient and proper as possible. When I first started pressing him I was successful in striking him and his form was generally good. However, as we kept doing repetitions his response to my strike became more focussed on just on preventing me from striking rather than on striking with a strong defence.
Put another way, he had two roles: set-up a situation & capitalize on that set-up. He placed his focus on capitalizing but this was incorrect. He should’ve put his focus on the set-up. Because it was his set-up that was unideal and presented me with a short-tempo action to strike safely.
In fencing your next action is generally dependant upon your first action. Put another way, the success of your plan depends upon the set-up of that plan. So if you have difficulty pulling off your plan start examining your set-up first.
This is not to say that follow-up actions are always perfect; that’s a foolish sentiment. But, a poor set-up will not permit an efficient follow-up action.