All posts by John Chow

Quick One: Hitting from the hip

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.

GBG hitting from the hip

So why don’t we practice hitting from the hip more, or at all?

Quick one: Parry this!

Here’s a dirty little secret in sabre: no one hits straight.

Everyone angulates.

Dyachenko-angulated-hit
I have complex feelings when I look at this picture.

It’s like one of those mystic “wax on, wax off” journeys in sabre training, the one where your coach spends years getting you to hold your sabre properly, make light fast touches, and relax.

Then one day, this happens:

Check out that wrist mobility.

Old man game

Bring it, kid.
Bring it, kid.

“I am like Rocky…Rocky 3, Rocky 4, Rocky 5″ – Aldo Montano (age 36)

I figure when the overwhelming reaction to our post on the Korean pro sabre training program is WTF, most of you are probably thinking how you’re going to get anywhere near that schedule.

Kim Junghwan does the thing with the eyebrow
“Do you have any idea what I had to do to get this?”

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.

Every victory a perfect moment…
Every victory a chance to rest.

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.

Continue reading Old man game

So you want to fence like a pro…here’s the Korean cadet training schedule

Korean_Team_Asian_Champs_2015_mug
“Mom, I want to be like these guys!”

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”.

But when it's all over...
But when it’s all over…

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.

Coach has high standards
Coach has high standards. And little sympathy.

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.

Typical post-training nap
Typical scene at Sydney Sabre after youth (under-15) training. Not shown: older fencers relaxing in the attached cafe.