All of us practice bladework from on-guard. But at least half my hits are from the hip. Pretty much all my finishes from the march are from the hip to avoid counterattacks. Guys like Gu Bon Gil and Alexey Yakimenko hit from the hip even off the start lines.
So why don’t we practice hitting from the hip more, or at all?
The vast majority of the people who are reading this are recreational fencers. We’re amateurs in the oldest sense of the word. We love sabre, but we also have jobs or school or kids. We definitely have other things we want/have to do in life. None of us are as young as we used to be – and it hits us much earlier than we expect.
So what can we do? In the spirit of this post by a hobbyist Jiu Jitsu practitioner, here are three of my personal observations on the on training as an older sabre fencer.
Every week, we get another hopeful kid sidling up to one of our instructors (sometimes accompanied by mom or dad) to shyly ask:
“How do I get really good at fencing?”
In the words of the venerable Mr. Lee Hyo Kun, head coach of the Korean Mens Sabre Team and childhood coach of world #1 Gu Bon Gil (and our very own Australian Champ Kim Dong Hwan):
“Practice. More Practice. No fun”.
Here’s a translated summary of the typical schedule for a young Korean aspiring pro fencer:
6am: Wake up. 6am-8am: Go for a run, preferably with hills and sprints. 8am-10am: Eat breakfast and have a nap. 10am-12:00pm: Footwork and bladework drills. 12:00pm-2pm: Lunch and another nap. 2pm-5pm: More drills and bouting. 5pm-8:00pm: Dinner and another nap. 8:00pm-10pm: In off-season, weight training alternating with rest days. In competition season, more bouting. 10pm: Bed. No video games.
That’s the schedule Monday to Saturday. Apparently they get Sundays off.
In later weeks we’ll cover the finer points of what the practice entails, and what more seasoned competitors like us with less time/youth/self-discipline can do to maximise their training outcomes.
More to come, but here’s a quick dashboard of some Australian demographics (from the Social Health Atlas of Australia: Local Government Area, published by the Public Health Information Development Unit at the University of Adelaide).