Back from the hospital! Still on sick leave, but at least I can blog from home.

Some time ago, I looked at a training bout between two 8-year old rookies during club training. In the beginning, more or less the same thing happened: the fencer on the left attacked, and the fencer on the right parried with a counterquarte. Then she would either do a straight riposte, or something else, but the end result was the same: point to parrying fencer. Score 0-3. Then, the fencer on the right started to do other things, and the fencer on the left scored instead. Score: 2-3. Fencer on the right went back to the counterquarte approach, score 2-4. Inexplicably, the fencer on the right tried, yet again, to do something else. Score 3-4. Finally, the fencer on the right went back to what was working, and did an immediate riposte in opposition after a counterquarte parry. Final score: 3-5.

Takeaway lesson: These are two rookies. For precisely that reason, it is not surprising that the fencer on the left did not adapt to the counterquarte when presented with it. As a consequence of that, it is generally a good idea to keep on doing something that works, until your opponent has figured it out. If your opponent is a rookie, that might take a while, and you can get a lot of fairly easy points that allow you to build up a comfortable lead before the difficult fencing starts. Also, by repeating the same thing over and over you give the coach of your opponents less observations to work with when they are putting together a game plan against you. If both you and your opponent are rookies, there will be a plentiful supply of opponent weaknesses to build a game plan upon, and it is a perfectly viable idea to focus on opponent weaknesses before your own strengths when building a game plan. The winner in this game made a strategic mistake that made the overall game much closer than it had to be – if she just would have focused on what worked, the bout would have been for all intents and purposes over after the 0-3 point.

Seen from a OODA loop perspective: Your opponent is stuck in the Orient phase of the OODA loop, not because he is overwhelmed by lots and lots of various data coming from the Observe phase, but because he is simply slow in making sense of what is in front of him. As long as he is stuck there, you will be on the road to the win. You do not need to do anything special as long as he is stuck there. Just feed him with more of the same, and expect the same outcome. (It is only when he finally figures out a useful response that you have to do something else.)

If something is working, then continue doing so! That goes double if both you and your opponent are rookies.

Next blog post: the dangers of repeating the previous match against a new opponent.