What happened during the second part of the bouting, after I had stopped the bouting and pointed out his errors to the student, was that the student managed to create battée sequences where he forced his opponent to move backwards several times, just as before the break. However, the crucial difference was at the end of those sequences. He went for a scoring movement while he still had the initiative and her blade was momentarily in a position where she would have to bring it forth to get into a position from which she could start her final offensive motion. His opponents blade was thus not neutralized, but momentarily not dangerous. He started his final offensive motion at that time, denying his opponent the option of a binding parry followed by a riposte in opposition.
After seeing that the student was not improving with regard to the two technical errors that I had pointed out, I stopped the bouting, hoping that a renewed mention of the technical errors would improve matters.
During the break, I again mentioned the two technical errors, and against my own dictum above, mentioned the other two errors in the list – in the hope that if there would be no further technical improvement that day, there might be other improvements instead.
After going over the technical errors again, I focused on the situations where the student let his opponent set up a situation in favor of her by slowly getting into a distance from which she could reach him with a simple offensive motion (usually a short lunge) and doing that final motion so quickly so that the student could not react appropriately if he starts reacting after the final offensive motion has started. The student tried to solve that problem by reacting faster, but I pointed out that the root cause is not that he reacts too slow, it is that he lets himself get into situations disfavoring himself in the first place. The solution to this problem is that the student keeps the situation changing all the time, so that the opponent does not get the chance to create a low-speed high-precision situation unchallenged. By constantly changing the situation against a better fencer the student will be scored against by several different ways, but this is better than being scored against in one way that keeps repeating – in the latter scenario the student keeps on losing without learning much to show for it. All this can be boiled down to: ”The real reason for why you ended up on the losing side on a fencing phrase is usually not just before you got hit, but several movements before that.”
Both I and the opponent, who also is a coach in her own right, pointed out that by constantly doing batteé from the same line – quarte – the student becomes predictable, and the opponent can predict his action and pre-plan an action of her own (in this case, a derobement) that capitalizes on his original action in such a way so that his advantage in strength counts for nothing, and the opponent gets a free way in to the nearest target. If the student instead mixes up his usual action with some other action which is such that a derobement is a bad response, then the opponent must wait longer before she can start a countering action. ”Mix up actions so that the best response to one of your actions is a bad response to the other.”
After these admonitions, the third and last part of the bouting session started. The student did not improve the position of his front foot, but the results were otherwise encouraging. He kept on putting together sequences where he had the initiative, and ended them with initiative also. After a little while, his elbow position became better, and did not let his opponent set up as many scenarios in her favor as before. All in all, several significant improvements during the lesson.