2014 World Championships: Men’s sabre teams start tonight

Men’s sabre teams starts today with the round of 32 from 2pm Kazan/8pm AEST. Here’s the big table:

World Champs teams big table

We’ll be watching France v Georgia (go France!) and Iran v Egypt. Live results are available here.

The round of 16 onwards is tomorrow from 1pm Kazan/7pm Sydney. Given the way the individual fencers were performing on Friday, I’d love to see an epic showdown between Russia and Korea in the final. This will depend on both Russia and Korea being able to get past their traditional kryptonite opponents; Germany and Italy respectively. I have a fair bit of faith in the Russians being able to pull this off, but the Koreans are less of a sure bet. They’ve never had a great deal of trouble against Romania, but their record against the incredibly consistent Italian team is weak.

If Gu is well rested and Oh and Won continue their sudden return to form, they may  be able to pull it off even if Kim is still injured. If the other three are even vaguely awake and Kim stages the kind of recovery he did two weeks ago at Asian Championships, they should have it in the bag.

A Russia v Italy final would also be highly worth watching. The Italians showed a few weeks back at European Championships that they’re capable of taking down the Russian team on their home turf, and a rematch is pretty sure to make for some good television.

2014 men’s sabre world champs: individual wrap-up

First off, congratulations to Nikolay Kovalev of Russia for landing his first individual World Championship title. The 28 year old right-hander is known for his very dynamic fencing style and has long been my favourite sabreur on the Russian team, and it’s great to see the him return from a long spell of bad luck and ill health to the top of his game.

Image:  Mikhail Shapaev
Image: Mikhail Shapaev

To say that an a-grade sabre competition was tight and had a lot of upsets is enough of a bland cliche as to be almost totally meaningless. As noted in my last post, the margins in this sport are so small as to make a mockery of attempts at casual punditry.  I don’t think Kovalev had many serious backers predicting gold at yesterday’s event, with the numbers favouring Kim, Szilagyi and Reshetnikov and most coaches favouring Szilagyi in particular.

The results last night played out very differently from these comfortable expectations.

1 RUS KOVALEV Nikolay 1986
2 KOR NZ GU Bongil 1989
3 ROU CSM IASI DOLNICEANU Tiberiu 1988
3 RUS YAKIMENKO Alexey 1983
5 HUN Vasas SZILAGYI Aron 1990
6 ITA MONTANO Aldo 1978
7 GER NR TSV Bayer Dormagen HARTUNG Max 1989
8 KOR WON Woo Young

1982
9 KOR KIM Junghwan 1983
10 ITA Fed. Italiana Scherma BERRE´ Enrico 1992
11 ITA OCCHIUZZI Diego 1981
12 FRA 09 DIJON CE ROUSSET Nicolas 1988
13 GER NR TSV Bayer Dormagen LIMBACH Nicolas 1985
14 FRA 24 SOUFFELWEYE ANSTETT Vincent 1982
15 ROU BADEA Alin 1988
16 KOR OH Eunseok 1983
17 RUS National team RESHETNIKOV Veniamin 1986
18 ITA SAMELE Luigi 1987
19 USA HOMER Daryl 1990
20 RUS National team IBRAGIMOV Kamil 1993
21 BLR RCPhES BUIKEVICH Aliaksandr 1984
22 BLR SC TUFB PRYIEMKA Valery 1983
23 UKR Netishyn PUNDYK Dmytro 1989
24 KAZ MOKRETCOV Ilya 1984
25 UKR Musketeer Odessa YAGODKA Andriy 1988
26 USA SPEAR Jeff 1988
27 GER NR TSV Bayer Dormagen WAGNER Benedikt 1990
28 HUN Kertvaros DECSI Tamas 1982
29 GEO FC Kutaisi BAZADZE Sandro 1993
30 FRA 09 DIJON CE APITHY Bolade 1985
31 GER NR TSV Bayer Dormagen SZABO Matyas 1991
32 IRI ABEDINI Mojtaba 1984

Reshetnikov was taken out in the round of 32 by Won Wooyoung, who was fencing well above the form he’s shown so far this season. Kim was on track to cruise to a comfortable victory over Kovalev in the round of 16 when his hand was injured yet again, a moment which ended any chance he might have had of claiming the gold. Szilagyi, as I had feared, was clearly worn down by an arduous bout against a thuggish and unsubtle Sandro Bazadze and was subsequently outclassed by Gu Bongil in the round of 8.
The result was a top 4 which had only one of the pre-comp favourites. Dolniceanu had a pretty easy run of it up to the quarterfinals, but was crushed by Kovalev in a brutal and one-sided semi. The bout between Gu and Yakimenko showed all the classic hallmarks of the Korean’s game, with Gu trailing 8/5 at the break before surging back to a 15/12 win.

Gu's chasing game is almost as characteristic as his lunge.
Gu’s chasing game is almost as characteristic as his lunge.

After those performances, I do not think I was alone in expecting a close final. I felt that Gu had put in a stronger performance on the day and probably had the edge on Kovalev, who had benefited from a series of lucky breaks (Kim’s injury, favourable refereeing against Aldo Montano, a fairly lackluster semifinal from Dolniceanu). Then this happened (start from 2:30:00, fixed start times are not possible from the streams for some reason):

Not a nice bout.

Up to about 6/0, I admit I was wondering when Gu was going to quit playing around and initiate his usual game plan: allow his opponent to build a convincing lead, then launch a vicious 10/0 run of heavily-angulated flat hits and point-counterattacks. By the break, 8/0 down, it became apparent that the cavalry was not coming, and that the notoriously delicate young Korean sabreur had run out of gas even more catastrophically than he had against Szilagyi in the final at Padova earlier this season.

In the end though, it was a very well-deserved win by Kovalev, and a podium which neatly reinforced the perils of idle speculation before sabre competitions.

Photo: FIE
Photo: FIE

In the aftermath of the comp, the rankings table has undergone a major reshuffle. Gu had done enough to leap to world #1 for the first time since 2010, narrowly edging out his team-mate Kim, who retained his #2 spot. Reshetnikov has suffered a major fall from grace, allowing an impressively consistent Italian team to round out the top 10 behind Szilagyi, Yakimenko and Dolniceanu.  Kovalev has been joined by a resurgent Won to jump back into the top 16.

Current FIE rankings MSI, 2014-07-19
Current FIE rankings MSI, 2014-07-19

I know I’ve just declared that prediction is a mug’s game, but I sure am looking forward to a tight race between Russia, Korea and Italy in Monday’s team event.

I guess that means stay tuned for a Romania v Germany final.

Hawt Couture!!!

Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day

It has often been commented that Italians know fashion. I’m sure we can postulate that everyone knows fashion, if in some cases it is simply to avoid being fashionable (intentionally or unintentionally as the case may be). But it appears to be a globally accepted meme that Italians do it better than most.
Whilst fencing whites create an air of athleticism, dignity and danger/mystery to the sabreur (ok, that last one may be apocryphal), I believe we can all agree, that in terms of what socially normalised ideas of Fashion are, they don’t really cut the (insert noun here as long as it’s not cheese). So what happens to hot fencers in dubiously fashionable fencing garb when they step from that world in to the world of the beau monde?

Aldo Montano, 35, Mens Sabre, Italy

This happens
This happens

This also happens
This also happens

Occasionally this happens, but we tend not to worry about it too much
Occasionally this happens, but we tend not to worry about it too much

The very rarely seen fashion of the medical accessory market
The very rarely seen fashion of the medical accessory market

Mustard is not generally fashionable, but here, it's definitely believable.
Mustard is not generally fashionable, but here, it’s definitely believable.

He may be a T-Bird. Also considered fashionale
He may be a T-Bird. Also considered fashionable

Underwear can be fashionable
Underwear can be fashionable

........FASHIONABLE!!!
……..FASHIONABLE!!!

And this....this is for....
And this….this is for….

ok, so it's here for REASONS. sue me.
ok, so it’s here for REASONS. sue me.

Using Elo to pick winners

Facebook turned up something interesting this morning, via the guys at the fantastic Swordsport Productions page:

msi elo

It comes from the guys over at The Fencing Coach. They’ve used the Elo rating system, which was developed for chess but is now used across a range of sports to track player performance and predict match results. It’ll be fascinating to see how it stands up to the experimental test tomorrow in Kazan. It pretty much exactly mirrors my predictions last week, which have been based largely on anecdotal observation of the 2013/2014 A-grade season. Here’s to a Kim v Reshetnikov final!

Those of you who’ve trained at Sydney Sabre may already be familiar with Elo: it’s the system we use for our internal ranking scoreboard. The data we collect is not as useful for predicting the results of a standard competition, as we include the results of matches fenced with handicaps, but it is  an extremely powerful predictor of match outcomes under our standard club training conditions, and functions very well in its primary role as a matchmaking system.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t based on the win/loss results over the season, as a true Elo model should be, only on the FIE ranking at the end of the season. The aim is apparently to do a proper Elo model over 2014/2015, and it will be very interesting to see how that stacks up against the more traditional FIE points-based rankings.

How about tomorrow’s comp? Here’s the big table:
World Champs table

As far as Friday goes, my personal suspicion is that an on-form Szilagyi has the edge on Reshetnikov if the two should meet in the semifinal. Szilagyi, however, is likely to face a couple of difficult early matches against the kind of awkward fencers he traditionally has trouble with.  Given the table above, my pick is for a Kim/Szilagyi final, in which Szilagyi will probably have the upper hand given Kim’s recent spate of injuries.

That said, margins in sabre are so small that attempts at casual punditry are unlikely to end well. This is why a true Elo model for 2015 would be so tremendously exciting.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Russians are back just in time for Kazan

The FIE rankings have been updated before World Championships, which starts next week in Kazan, Russia.

After their utter domination of European Championships, where they took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in individual and 2nd in teams after a nail-biting 44/45 loss to Italy, the Russians are back on top, with 412 points giving them a commanding lead over Italy (332) and Korea (328). The won the world team championships in 2013, and are looking pretty unstoppable again this year.

Image: News.Xinhua
Image: News.Xinhua

In individual men’s sabre, Veniamin Reshetnikov has narrowly edged out Jung Hwan Kim of South Korea to take the world #1 ranking, which he had previously held at the end of the 2013 season. The experienced left-hander was also the 2013 World Champion, deafeating team-mate Nikolay Kovalev in a surprise upset in the final in Budapest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Kim lost his position after being elimated in the round of 8 at Asian Championships after being injured in a (frankly highly questionable) bout against Ali Pakdaman (Iran). He now trails Reshetnikov by just 5 points (308 to 303).

Video presented without further comment.

Kim, however, recovered his form three days later in the team event at Asian Championships, putting on a spectacular performance in the final against Japan.

Pretty convincing.

Narrowly behind Kim in 3rd place on the individual rankings is Aron Szilagyi, on 194 points. Both Kim and Szilagyi have fenced Reshetnikov this season, and both defeated him.  I’d be pretty happy to see a rematch of either bout in the finals in Kazan next week.

Moscow 2014: L4: Kim v Reshetnikov

Athens 2014: L4: Szilagyi v Reshetnikov

However, if he’s recovered from his injury scares and is fencing the way he was last weekend in the teams in Suwon City, my money is on Kim to regain his individual #1 spot. The open question is whether he, along with a recently revitalised Gu Bongil, can drag the Koreans over the line to their first team World Championship title.

Image: AP
Image: AP

Whatever the outcome, Kazan is shaping up to be an interesting comp.

So…..about that Evidence Based Hotness Theory…..

Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day

Worry not, intrepid seekers of knowledge, data and EBH enlightenment! The last two weeks have involved intense research into various applications of EBH Theory to aspects of the fencing world.
We have been busy formulating a number of hypotheses, including one exploring practical application of external formalisation to the physiognomy of the Sabreur and how this can be interpreted through the application of EBH Theory.

Watch this space

Watch this space…watch it…continue watching it…until I come back.

The Application of “Evidence Based Hotness” Theory

Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day

Way back in the day when we were young and there was a war on, and things were different (okay, mostly last weekend… probably more last week if truth be told) there was a percolation of synapses, endorphins, Hibiki and general brain chemistry that led to a Tesla-grade lightbulb-moment of creation; and the Theory of Evidence Based Hotness (EBH), particularly in its application towards competitive and professional athletes, was born. Generally, EBH can be studied from a number of perspectives, including universal perceptions common to all human cultures, cultural and social aspects, and individual subjective preferences. Some physical features are attractive in both men and women, although one contrary report suggests that “absolute flawlessness” with perfect symmetry can be “disturbing”. There are also numerous factors based on gender, as to the application and evaluation of EBH.* So where is this all leading, and how can it possibly be relevant to this blog? Well, I believe the time has come to apply EBH theory on a test group of select athletes; namely Sabreurs…..OK Chit chat over, Hot Sabreur Alert:

Daryl Homer, 23. Mens Sabre, USA

This guys is serious about his sport
This guys is serious about his sport

But is also a seriously happy dude
But is also a seriously happy dude

The flunge, and the socks
The flunge, and the socks

The raw explosive power! Seriously, Dolniceanu is being shoved back by the air Homer is displacing in his lunge....true fact!
The raw explosive power! Seriously, Dolniceanu is being shoved back by the air Homer is displacing in his lunge….true fact!

More Men in suits with swords are required in every day life
He understands that more men in suits with swords are required in every day life

Is very safety conscious and likes to make sure his equipment is sound
He is very safety conscious and likes to make sure his equipment is sound

....Does this one even need a caption...really?
….Does this one even need a caption…really?

I didn't think so either.
I didn’t think so either.

 

    • Current US ranking – #1
    • Current World Ranking: #12
    • 2012 Olympic Games Placing: 6th
    • What Sells it: The awesome skilz, the socks and the smile
    • On a scale of Hot to Epic, Homer is pretty damn Volcanic (and I dare you not to try and come up with a reason to touch his thighs!!)

*most of this post may have been gratuitously lifted from Wikipedia (hey, if I can’t use Wiki as a reference in an academic paper, it’s perfectly salient to filch from it now), and a little bit of flim flam. This is un-apologetically an excuse to talk about hot athletes, semi-nekkid (rated M), clothed, in action, male or female. I do not choose images that undermine the athletes’ agency, dignity or strength, and I do not present a homogeneous glom of athletes who all fit a cookie cutter mold of “hotness”.

The modern marching attack is beautifully varied

The march in sabre has changed significantly since the introduction of the current cutoff times in 2004. Gone are the days when the attack in sabre meant that you would advance on your opponent expecting to finish with their counterattack. The athleticism and timing of A-grade sabreurs make it difficult, if not impossible, for a marching attacker to react fast enough to a well-timed blade action from the defender.

Over the last 10 years, sabreurs and referees have developed a whole new class of marching attacks. These marches focus on surprising the defender with rapid tempo and distance changes, rather than finishing with the counterattack. Here’s a video summarising the latest range of marching attacks as demonstrated in the 2014 Athens World Cup.

Refereeing is learned through empirical observation

You can’t learn fencing from a book.

Every few weeks, we’ll get a keen fencer at SSC who asks if there is a book that explains some aspect of fencing, like how to make a cut, take a parry, or what to do off the start line. We get these requests a lot, and we generally refer them to the stack of fencing manuals that we have strewn around the lounge.

It soon becomes readily apparent that while books can provide a lot of background information on how to fence, there is no substitute for actually doing it. Detailed explanations on the bio-mechanics of the lunge are a poor substitute for actually practising lunges and having someone knowledgeable refine your form.

The same goes for refereeing. There are plenty of fencing rules (check out http://www.britishfencing.com/governance/rules/fie-rules/ for the English translations of the official FIE rules). The fundamental role of a referee is to apply these rules to the bout.

Problem is, the rules don’t provide enough detail to cover all the richness of what happens in a real bout. No set of rules is ever likely to do this.  So real-life referees have standardised interpretations of the rules that they apply in bouts. These interpretations cover the nuances in real life bouts that the written rules don’t, or can’t.

Take the classic example of attack-counterattack at the start of the bout. From the FIE Technical Rulebook (translation courtesy of British Fencing):

T.7.1 The attack is the initial offensive action made by extending the arm and continuously threatening the opponent’s target, preceding the launching of the lunge or flèche (cf. t.56ss, t.75ss).

T.8.3 Counter-attacks are offensive or offensive–defensive actions made during the offensive action of the opponent.

T.75.1 Any attack properly executed (cf. t.7) must be parried, or completely avoided, and the phrase must be continuous.

T.80.1 When during a phrase both fencers are hit simultaneously there is either a simultaneous action or a double-hit.

T.80.3 The fencer who is attacked is alone counted as hit:

a) If he makes a stop hit on his opponent’s simple attack;
b) If, instead of parrying, he attempts to avoid the hit and does not succeed in so doing;
c) If, after making a successful parry, he makes a momentary pause (delayed riposte) which gives his opponent the right to renew the attack (redoublement, or remise or reprise);
d) If, during a compound attack, he makes a stop hit without being in time;
e) If, having his point ‘in line’ (cf. t.10) and being subjected to a beat or a taking of the blade (prise de fer) which deflects his blade, he attacks or places his point in line again instead of parrying a direct hit made by his opponent.

T.80.4 The fencer who attacks is alone counted as hit:

a) If he initiated his attack when his opponent had his point ‘in line’, without deflecting the opponent’s weapon. Referees must ensure that a mere contact of the blades is not considered as sufficient to deflect the opponent’s blade.
b) If he attempts to find the blade, does not succeed (because of a derobement) and continues the attack.
c) If, during a compound attack, he allows his opponent to find the blade, and continues the attack while his opponent ripostes immediately.
d) If, during a compound attack, he bends his arm or makes a momentary pause, during which time the opponent makes a stop hit or an attack while the attacker continues his own attack.
e) If, during a compound attack, he is stop-hit one period of fencing time (temps d’escrime) before he makes his final movement.

Whew! There are plenty of other sub-rules defining simple, indirect and compound attacks but the main rules are above. So – have a crack at separating the calls in the video below based on those rules:

Plenty of tough calls were made in that video, calls that less experienced referees would have abstained from or called ‘simultaneous’. These calls are tough because they require a referee to recognise actions that are not easily described by written rules, relying instead on interpretations that say that this action is a preparation while another is an attack. Further, these interpretations must be the same across all FIE referees.

So if the interpretations are so important, why aren’t they written down in the rules?

One reason is that there are so many situations that the interpretations cover that trying to write them all down is impractical. Another is that, like with other aspects of fencing, the written word is a poor substitute for actually seeing it in action. A third reason is that the interpretations change from season to season – how bouts were refereed even in 2008 is markedly different from bouts in 2012, a single Olympic cycle.

The upshot is that there is no substitute for refereeing under supervision and watching calls being made correctly by other referees, on a regular basis. Bad referees read the rules and try to apply them from first principles to the situation. Infuriatingly bad referees take interpretations from previous seasons and refuse to update their interpretations for the current one.

Good referees make a lot of regular, up-to-date empirical observations so they can correctly apply the  rules to the situation they see before them. With the current availability of sabre videos from top competitions freely available on the web, there is no excuse for any referee, even those in the murkiest backwaters of the fencing world, to be less than competent in making the right calls in sabre.

Go practice.

 

Trends in refereeing 2014: Decisions from the Athens World Cup

Just got back from the Athens A-grade Senior World Cup a few days ago and spent most of my time there hanging out with referees and taking videos. The refereeing has changed significantly in the last couple of years, with a strong element of rewarding fencers for accomplishing the actions that they attempt, while penalising incidental hits or gaining priority. Here’s a video that summarises the changes for an experienced sabre referee:

 

Below is a summary of refereeing and fencing points I made while on the road. I’ll follow up with a more comprehensive analysis of current sabre tactics and refereeing guidelines over the next couple of months as I digest some of the other videos that have been coming out of the Chicago world cup.

General refereeing points
  • Be clear, decisive, consistent.
    • You must make the call with absolute gut confidence. Don’t think about it it or even give the appearance of being swayed. Remember you are also playing to an audience as a totally impartial and authoritative referee, think poker face.
    • You should be cool, calm collected and have confidence in your calls.
    • If you don’t have confidence, fake it. If you appear weak, fencers will exploit this. Remember that the fencers will often be intimidating and quite forceful. Ambiguity is a big no-no.
  • Calls are initiated before the fencers gave a chance to speak or call. The first hand gesture should be initiated before the fencers actions are completely finished.
    • You must make the same call regardless of the score, at 14-14 as at 7-4. 
  • Do not be apologetic about giving out cards. Failing to give out a card means that you are being selective in your calls. It gives the appearance of favouritism.
  • Always make hand signals so that the audience can understand the call without audio from behind you. Big, clear and simple gestures. Keep each gesture stationary for 1-2 seconds before moving to the next one.
    • Remember that hand signals have been standardised internationally. A fencer from another country who doesn’t speak English should be able to understand your call by hand signals alone. Learn them and apply them. 
    • Keep fingers together when making a call.
    • Fingers bent at 90 degrees to indicate the side inititating attack.
    • Closed fist and pull when indicating preparation.
  • Keep the language simple. There is only attack, attack simultanie (pas des touché), attack-no, parry-riposte in the first instance, and takeover/beat in the second instance (attack au fer, or even just ‘attaque’). 
  • What we are calling ‘attack in preparation’ should be either called simply ‘attack’ or split into two calls being ‘preparation…attack’ with appropriate hand signals.
  • Competitive referees should be doing it in French. This will distinguish them from club referees.
  • Calling halt is enforced very strictly.
  • Line rules are enforced very strictly.
    • One foot over the side line is cause for an immediate halt.
    • Starting early off the line is an instantaneous yellow card. No warnings, even if potentially both are at fault. One person is always at fault.
    • The start of the bout is at the end of ‘allez’ or ‘fence’, not at the start of the word.
  • You can card both fencers. Provocation – feinting start with shoulders but not feet also counts as a card able offense. (See Kovalev vs Bazadze DE).
  • Do not get caught up with the timing of the hits themselves – even if there is a small delay between the hits landing if all other actions are the same it is still simultaneous.
Rule changes from prior SSC practice
  • Attack-no reprise: if one person stops the attack but the other person keeps moving back, the attacker can initiate a reprise of the attack.
  • If both fencers ‘stop’ (usually by an attack no and a pause in taking over by the fencer who was going back) then the action simply starts again in a way similar to the 4m; priority is up for grabs.
  • Attacker can stop or even move backwards if the defender seeks counterattack or beat, while maintaining priority.
  • Benefit of the doubt is given for attack au fer vs. beat takeover.
  • Benefit of the doubt is given for beat takeover vs. parry by attacker.
Clarification of simultaneous actions and other notes
  • Deacceleration constitutes attack-no
    • Any hesitation after after first step then fast lunge is counterattack. Examples include step lunge, ballestra lunge. (Some Koreans were being caught out on this).
  • Absence of acceleration, particularly hand, is preparation.
  • Any attempt at opposition is a counterattack.
  • Ballestras are always preparation.
  • Attack-no is called as soon as the front foot touches the ground, but if the opponent searches for blade and does not get the parry, the remise of the attack is given priority over the riposte/counterattack.
  • Absence of hand extension with acceleration is preparation.
Fencing notes
  • Lots of compound parries being taken, especially from Quinte
  • Quarte parry is preferred over Quinte when retreating
    • Quarte parry riposte is a single action
  • Seconde is very common and taken from high line. Counterpart to circle tierce from low line. Sometimes seconde is taken with a jump.
    • Riposte from seconde is taken quickly and either to flank or belly (latter with opposition).
  • The acceleration for advance lunge is very abrupt
  • Guys like Kovalev and Szilagyi make a point of keeping their weight on the back foot even up to the lunge so that they can convert advance lunge to an additional advance for the march.
  • Attack au fer is very common in all lines but particularly with beat and seconde.
  • Hand is usually kept high even though most actions are to low line.
    • Personally need to watch out for dropping hand in the 4m which is called preparation.
  • It is very common to see flat hits to flank and belly.
  • Short guys flunge, with huge acceleration (no preparation). Especially from the fall short.
  • Stances are very low and weight is on ball of back foot.
  • Fall short is followed by pause, then very fast acceleration for advance lunge.
  • Defence is very active and biased towards parry and stop cut rather than attack on preparation.
    • Some people step forward with the parry especially seconde.
  • I don’t know if they are using peripheral vision or looking at the hand in the 4m, but the other fencers are very ready to take the parry from the start. My suspicion is that they use peripheral vision and always keep track of where the opponents blade is, with the intention to finish the attack but able to sense if the opponent is rushing or hesitating.
  • Dudes are massively built in the torso and legs. I’m the same height but half the bulk of Daryl Homer.
  • Hand is kept bent and very far back on the attack with lots of takes by the blade.
  • Hand is extending but kept bent for the final extension in the 4m. Don’t drop and extend the arm.
  • Hits are always leading with tip, even cuts to flank.
  • Flat hits are surprisingly common, especially from high line to chest/belly (vs. through-cuts), or as stop cuts to the outside of the opponent’s arm.