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Fencing Footwork Begins With A Fundamental Stance

Every beginner fencer needs to focus his or her concentration on learning the most important aspect of fencing: the stance. Everything in fencing begins with a proper stance.

Without a good foundation, you will soon find that you are vulnerable to your opponent, plus unable to successfully attack your opponent’s weaknesses when you notice an opening. A poor stance will also make it very difficult for the beginner fencer to correct any mistakes.

The fencing stance begins with what is termed the on-guard stance. This is the initial foot position from which every move in fencing begins.

Rear Foot

To set the on-guard beginning stance, the fencer should take the foot that is opposite their handedness and establish that firmly as the rear foot. The foot should be turned perpendicular the center of the body and your opponent.

While this foot needs to be established as a firm base, you will also need to practice adjusting this foot as you lunge and retreat away from your opponent. A beginner should start with this back foot, bending slightly at the knee, repeating slight dips backward and forward in a rocking motion.

The Lead Foot

The lead foot is positioned with your toes facing your opponent and is the same foot as the hand you will use. This foot moves more than the back foot in fencing, because sometimes you will only lunge and not retreat.

Often the lunging maneuvers will be necessary to score points, or keep your opponent on his guard, but if your opponent does not change his position, you can leave your rear foot still. You will need to practice the basics of the advance and the retreat hundreds of times before you begin to get comfortable with the weight balance on your lead foot.

Upper Body & Torso

The last part of the basic fencing stance involves the upper body and also needs to be practiced. While the upper torso and the head of fencer do not move much, their positioning is important.

You are going to want to keep your back as straight as possible at all times, and your head perfectly above your shoulders. Since the lunging with your lead arm is how you will successfully score against your opponent, any tilt or bend to your back and torso will require you to waste time with compensating movements. This will leave you immediately vulnerable to an attack.

Once, as a beginner fencer, you have an established basic stance and can perform these standard steps with perfection, you will easily be able to learn the more intricate moves of an expert fencer. Find a full size mirror in a room with enough space to make at least 5 to 10 approach attacks and retreats, watching how your feet move. With some dedicated practice you will be able to establish the most important part of fencing for the beginner – a good stance. 

It’s also crucial to have the right clothing as you practice so your body can get used to the range of movement. Contact a store like Fencing Armor for more info.