No Surrender: Kim (KOR) v Kovalev (RUS)

Today’s hit comes from  one of the most exciting matches from the 2014 World Championships: a knife-edge battle between clinical tactics and ferocious combat instinct. In this particular exchange, we get to see just about the entire defensive repertoire of Kim Junghwan in the space of five seconds. There’s the incredibly rapid crossover retreat (which fails), the attempted point counterattack (which fails), a variety of dramatic and spectacular parries (which include, if my eyes are not deceiving me, a perfect rendition of the Aron Szilagyi 5-2-5 maneuver, which also fails). Finally, with one foot off the back line, he makes contact. My god, the bladework.

The whole match has just been published on our YouTube channel. Kim dominates the first half with his signature aggression and timing, but Kovalev regains control in the later part of the match with the same kind of cool and precise tactical game which later in the day allowed him to cruise quite comfortably through the final rounds to his first World Championship title.

There’s a few calls in there I’d raise an eyebrow at, all in Kovalev’s favour, but then I’ve got a fairly strong team bias and could be seeing things. It’s also unclear as to the significance of the recurring hand injury which plagued Kim all of last season, and which became so dramatically obvious in the team final against Germany. Even a tiny bit of hesitation can be fatal in a contest this close. Hopefully he will have had a chance to recover completely before the first world cup of the new season in Budapest in just under 3 weeks. After seeing Kovalev return to form after such a long run of illness and injury, it would be a shame to have another great fencer fall to the same sort of misfortune.

I’d really miss seeing this sort of thing on the circuit.

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