6 Games to Clean Up Your Fencing

The following are the results of a game design challenge to design games which have the biggest discrepency between their apparent usefulness and their actual ability to teach sills.

Sean Franklin
Game List: 6 Games for a Complete Fencer
Explanation (and introduction to the challenge): 6 Bad Games – Lessons From The Rondo

Tea Kew
Game List: 6 Games to Teach Meyer-style Fencing
Explanation: Breaking the feedback loop to make bad games

Adrien Pommellet
Game List: 6 Games to Clean Up Your Fencing
Explanation: 6 Games to Shit Up Your Fencing

Using games is a great way to help your students quickly assimilate the low hanging fruits of fencing, but unlocking the canonical techniques in sparring requires much more work than what beginners too eager to spar are used to.

I will share here six games that, I hope, will lead to cleaner and more enjoyable training sessions for you and your students.

Attack safely

Reckless attacks that can be punished by counter-attacks are all too common. Your students must ponder the right time to attack, and only commit when the time is right.

Fight as usual, but if there is a double hit, the defender wins the exchange. Keep the afterblow window long and the entire body a target: you want your students to stay covered during the whole exchange.

Know your techniques

A common issue faced by most students is not being able to reproduce in free play a technique that has been trained in class. But an experienced coach can help them recognize the proper opportunities.

Each fighter is paired with a ‘coach’ they can’t communicate with. They spar but can’t score until their respective coach calls a technique name that they must execute immediately.

Move offline

Beginners have trouble performing non-linear actions. They should be broken out of this mold sooner rather than later.

Fight as usual, but only actions performed with an offline step can score.

Fence from the bind

The safest fencing is performed from the bind, but many students tend to shudder and flee the second someone touches their blade. A greater emphasis on blade control will in the long run lead to cleaner fencing.

Fight as usual, but only actions from the bind can score.

Keep it double-free

No one likes doubles hits. They’re a consequence of careless fencing, when both fencers try to score at all cost and utterly ignore the impending threat of the opponent’s blade. But no one likes a gratuitous amount of push-ups either (unless you’re called Sean Franklin and built like a Sasquatch).

Fight as usual. The first time there’s a double hit, both fencers must do three push ups. Each subsequent double hit increases that count.

Watch your form

Watching a fencer with a great form is always a pleasure. But most fencers are seldom aware of their posture as they fence. A third party may help them in that regard by ensuring that their strikes are delivered with good posture and martial intent but without violence.

Fight under the scrutiny of a judge. The judge must penalize attacks that are tappy, suicidal, rushed, or too violent.