Range & Placement

The purpose of the Range & Placement lesson is to learn the concepts of Range, or the distance when you can attack your opponent, and Range, the physical position you are in during a fight.

For Teachers

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Safety

Understanding the concepts of Range & Placement allow a fencer to properly know when and how to attack safely. Often giving and receiving hard shots is indicative of fighters misunderstanding or not properly utilizing Range & Placement.

Your understanding of range and placement will come with time and experience. Do your best to implement these concepts until you gain a full understanding.

Range & Placement

Range and Placement are fancy terms to describe the distance between you and your opponent physically, or Placement, and the maximum distance you can have between your opponent and still able to land a killing shot, or Range.

Finding Your Range

You must find your own Range before you’ll be able to move In Range. You do this by putting your tip on a training partner or a wall and moving backwards until you can’t touch them anymore. Make sure to incorporate your lunge as well. You’ve now figured out your range. Repeating this process often helps bring your conscious understanding of Range develop into a muscle memory and you will effectively be able to feel your range. Having your own weapon or using the same weapon week after week helps to cement this principle.

Maneuvering into Range

When you’re maneuvering into range, do it safely. The safest way to do this  is by gaining dominance and addressing your opponent’s blade. That means pushing your opponent’s sword out of the way while you move in closer. Never  move into range without first making sure that your opponent can not stab you. Put your sword between you and your opponent’s sword and push it out of the way with the true edge. Then make sure you move in quickly for the kill. If you miss get back out of Range.

Maneuvering out of Range

Moving out of range or close range is known as disengaging. Your primary goal is to get away from your opponent and reset. Make sure that as you move away from your opponent that you keep your point on line ready to block any attacks. If you think quickly enough you  can throw a “fading” shot, which is an attack as you retreat. A effective disengage will be quick and get you out of range into a defensive position.

Starting Placement

Starting Placement is where you are physically when you’ve engaged with an opponent. That moment when you acknowledge you’re going to cross blades and attempt to kill one another. This could be one of three places:

  • Out of Range: This is where you’re far enough from your opponent that neither one of you could successfully hit the other. Starting here means that you’ll need to close the distance separating you to try and kill your opponent.
  • In Range: This Starting Placement is where most duels begin. You and your opponent are close enough that either are able to make a successful kill. Being in this position gives you the best options in a fight, but remember that it is the same for your opponent.
  • Close Range: This Placement is when you’ve moved past the maximum distance needed to kill your opponent. Being in this Placement limits your sword’s effectiveness and range of motion. Daggers thrive in this Placement and you shouldn’t be in this Placement for very long.

Whichever Placement you find yourself in, you have to make a decision: “Do I remain in this Placement?”

If no, which of the other two should I move into? Most fights are fought primarily in the Second Placement: In Range. This is because both fighters are comfortable and able to engage the other as they see fit. Being In Range is not bad, but remember that whatever you can do to your opponent, they can do to you.

Teacher Resources

Explain

Explain the following concepts and how they apply to fencing. Emphasize that the more experience you have, the easier it will be to understand Range & Placement.

  • What is Range?
  • How to find your range
  • Maneuvering into Range
  • Maneuvering out of Range
  • Out of Range
  • In Range
  • Close Range
  • Starting Placement

Demonstrate

Demonstrate each of the principles of Range & Placement. Show the students how to find their range and how to recognize what their range is or what their opponent’s range is. Demonstrate what each Range looks like and how to move safely between them.

Guide

After demonstrating, walk the students through each principle. Help them find their own range while working with a partner. Help them define when they are in each of the three different ranges and the benefits of each.

Enable

At this stage, each Initiate should be able to recognize their range and placement on their own. Run through the following drill or challenge before finishing:

Range & Placement Drill

Have the students line up, in single file, well out of range of the Teacher. One at a time, have each Initiate walk directly towards the Teacher, until they feel they are In Range. The moment the Initiate feels that they can successfully land a strike, have them stop and attempt an attack. Analyze their range and note if they were Out of Range, In Range, or In Close Range. Reset for the next student and repeat.

Range & Placement Challenge (Glued to a Wall)

The student performing the challenge plants the heel of their rear foot against a solid fixed object such as a wall, tree, curb, or post.  For the duration of the challenge, this rear heel must remain in contact with the object. The Teacher will then duel the student, moving and changing range throughout. The student must fight and defend themselves until the Teacher is In Range and can be attacked. Teachers should give ample opportunities for the student to be on the Offensive.

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed the Range & Placement lesson! Next, you'll learn how to use the edge of your blades instead of just the point with Draw & Tip Cuts.