If one is to communicate about some things over and over, it helps to make definitions so that one can just use the term, rather than describe the thing every time one is communicating about it. These are tentative definitions, I fully expect to revisit them, and some tweaks in the definitions are will not be something to be surprised about. Then again, it is best to start somewhere – even if the definition is not perfect at the first try, one will never get going unless one does that first try. Note that the following is about movements themselves, not the decision to do those movements – that will be the topic for a follow-up post.

All that said, here goes:

Simple movement: A movement in fencing that involves one joint in the body, and the body parts connected by that joint rotate in relation to each other from one position to another – without slowing down to a standstill, or reversing, during that motion. The rotational movement is strongly monotonous, if one envisions the movement in a diagram where the time is on the x-axis and the rotational angle is on the y-axis. If the movement slows down to a standstill and then either restarts or reverses, there are two simple movements in series.

Composite movement: A movement in fencing that involves more than one joint in the body, and the body parts connected by those joints rotate in relation to each other from one position to another – without slowing down to a standstill, or reversing, during that motion. The rotational movement is strongly monotonous, if one envisions the movement in a diagram where the time is on the x-axis and the rotational angle is on the y-axis. There is at least some overlap in time between the movements of the different joints, and the different joint movements together accomplish some low-level goal in fencing. If any of the movements slow down to a standstill and then either restarts or reverses, then this is not one composite movement.

Fencing technique: A set of movements, single or composite, that together accomplish a higher-level goal in fencing than what movements do. A technique should – if it is initiated at the right time and place, and carried out correctly – accomplish that goal without any internal decision points. There are several types of goals here:

  1. Offensive – a point is to be scored
  2. Defensive -the opponent is to be prevented from scoring, and the fencer should come into a position where he either can attack directly, or prepare an attack
  3. Provocatory – it should draw a reaction from the opponent that can be exploited, or make him reveal his intentions, capabilities, or both
  4. Preparatory – it should put the fencer in a position to do another technique that accomplishes any of the three goals listed above

It is possible that more than one goal is attempted at one time with one technique. The time horizon for a technique is mostly for the time until the next time there is a halt in the bout, or when fencers are at such a long distance that neither can attack without preparation and footwork.

A straight extension of the weapon arm is a composite movement, since it involves both the shoulder and the elbow, and it serves the low level goal of getting your weapon tip closer to your opponent. If he happens to be so close so that he can be hit by it, then it is also a technique, since hitting him will serve the higher-level goal of scoring a point, and it will result in a halt.

A lunge is also a technique, since it involves a simple movement of the non-weapon arm (elbow gets extended) in parallel with the straight extension of the weapon arm, followed by two composite movements of the lower body one for each leg. Note that I define the lower-body movement as two different composite movements, one for each leg. That is because moving the front leg in the way it is done in a lunge can also be part of a marche step, so it makes sense to separate them since one of the movements can be a building block for more than one technique. One could, and it is done on a regular basis, extend only the weapon arm without moving the back arm at all. Therefore, I split the movements of the arms into two distinct movements, one simple and one composite.

With these definitions in place, it is my hope that my writings later on will be more compact.