Back from the fencing session this evening. The lessons that follow are not groundbreaking by any means, but they bear repeating.
We were running 10-point bouts today, and in the particular bout referenced here the fencer on the left had done several mistakes so far. None of them were howlers, but even the minor ones add up. So, the fencer on the left was down 7-9. He then visibly pulled himself together – his whole stance and demeanor changed. He fenced with more precision in his movements, got the fencing distance right, and subsequently pulled off 3 straight points for a 10-9 win.
Lesson: Focus on doing what can be done from now on as well as possible, and do not dwell upon the past. That mindset is absolutely crucial. With it, you will fence your very best, pull off the occasional miracle, and improve steadily. Without it, you will lose a lot of bouts you could have won, and your improvement as a fencer will be plodding at best.
In one bout, the fencer on the left was making a lot of beats on the blade, the great majority of them from his right to left in quarte position. The fencer on the right was not using this repeated behavior to his advantage. After that bout ended, I took the fencer on the right to me and asked him what he had noticed about the beats on his blade. He correctly stated from where they came. After a little prodding on my part, he understood that one should do something with that information, and I asked him to feed that opponent his blade again in the next bout between them, with the goal to draw a quarte batté that he could deceive with a degagé from quarte to sixte, and from there attack straight line. He agreed that that would be worth trying out. The two of them fenced again shortly thereafter. However, there was a crucial difference: the fencer who had been doing almost all his battés in one line now did them in a much more varied fashion. Therefore, the fencer whom I had coached in the meanwhile did not see the same repeating pattern, and did not dare pull off that particular action. It turned out that the other fencer had overheard us, and acted accordingly. Since he changed his behavior in a way that prevented a bad situation from happening in the first place, that was a strategic change.
Lesson: Keep your wits about you, and use any tidbit of information that falls into your lap.