Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Misha Itkin and Alex Press on Foil

Misha Itkin was the US National Junior Foil Team Coach, the 2008 Junior World Champions. Alex Press needs no introduction, but if you do not know the name, he is the Russian National Foil Coach. Their combined presentations highlighted the following:

... foil has changed significantly over the last 4-5 years. Fencers are now choosing to fence from defense with the role of destroying what the opponent creates. As a result foil bouts are no longer fast, usually taking the full 9 minutes, and team bouts rarely run to a full 45 hits.

... the Russians approach fencing on two levels, the gymnastic (the physical techniques) and the tactical/strategic. In this model a disengage and lunge is not an attack, it is a technical action. It only has importance as an attack when it is launched under conditions that finish with the hit.

... strip coaching must be very precise and to the point if you know what the fencer needs to do, you must never focus on what not to do, and if you do not have a solution you must be encouraging.

... there are two types of coaches, those who must guide the fencer on the strip through every action and those that teach the fencer what to do before the competition. In their view coaches should teach the student to make the right decisions on their own.

... fencing feeling is distance, timing, and tactical insight. The soul of the bout is to score and not be scored upon. In this fencing becomes the process of delivering the blade to the target.

... the target is three dimensional. In sabre an error in distance can still result in a hit, but in foil even a small error results in a miss.

... each action is prepared by the previous action.

... if you are going to score with a counterattack into a simple attack you have to be Golubitsky (a very successful fencer with amazing physical capabilities).

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