You must have completed Basic Blocks, before taking this lesson.
The word fencing comes from the terminology ‘the Arte of Defense.’ The point is to defend yourself and stay alive. Like all good art, it takes mastery. This should be intentional, not instinctual. Act, don’t react. Use the blocks to your advantage to stay alive, and to ensure your opponent can’t attack you again.
Points of safety
Efforts to optimize and improve our defense and blocking techniques should also translate into safer and more balanced techniques. Advanced Blocks is elevating what was taught in the Basic Blocks class, so however you intend to block maintain focus on safe blocks because you’ll be doing it a lot.
- Speed. Not Panic: You can block quickly without being reduced to panicking or flailing. If you’re not in control, you’re not being safe.
- Solid. Not Brute Strength: You can have a strong block without relying on bashing or slamming into your opponent’s blade with all your strength.
- There’s No Gold Star for Style: A simple but effective block is as effective as a flashy, dazzling block. If a block keeps you alive, it doesn’t matter how it looks and you don’t get bonus points for style.
The Basic Blocks cover the fundamental principles of defending yourself in a fight. Do what it takes to deflect and prevent your opponent from landing a successful strike. There are a multitude of ways to do this and what matters is finding what works for you and then elevating those techniques.
- Better is Better: You can always get better at blocking. When you think you have nothing to work on. You can always get better at blocking.
- More than a Position: Blocks are more than a precise point in space, they have a sphere of influence. They should fade into each other. A block 4 overlaps into an 8. 3, 5, and 7 all guard your upper offhand side. So performing a block will look different based on what you need to defend and move.
- Block to Gain Advantage: Just as every attack should have a backup block, every block should have a riposte. You may not always use it, but you should know your block well enough to get your tip back on line for a strike. Use your block to make your opponent pay.
- Offensive Blocking: Not every attack begins with the tip of your sword. Using a block as an opening line of attack can nullify your opponent’s blade for longer than a tap or a beat while setting you up for a strike.
- Understanding Range to Block Ratio: A few inches makes a huge difference, knowing when to use blocks that are tighter to your body like 1, 2, 5, or 6 vs. blocks further from your body like 7, 8, 9, or 10 is important both for staying alive but also for choosing your riposte. 5 and 3 block very similarly but the riposte from 5 takes longer and requires a precision execution to land the tip properly on your opponent instead of tapping them.
- Choosing Blocks Based on Placement: intentionally use the most advantageous block for your placement, and actively choose your placement to set up blocks that enable your best riposte. Block with your feet.
- Use Blocks Differently: Use blocks at different heights and depths than the basic blocks
- Read your Opponent: Watch your opponent’s body moment looking for tells and what is possible from their current position so you can have a block ready to go before they move.
- Two Additional Blocks: 11, 12.
- Block with an Attack in Mind: Go through each block one at a time thinking about the riposte, consider range and placement, and how your feet can support the block and riposte.
- Offensive Block: With a partner, use each block offensively over and over until you can perform it at combat speed while maintaining control of your opponent’s blade.
- Heights and Depths: Play with each block at different heights and depths to explore the space in which they can be used.
- Half Speed: Working with a partner fencing at half speed, block better and stay alive as long as you can. Talking through what is working and what you can do better. Look for the logic in your blocks. Really analyze what you’re doing and how you can do it better.
What we’re looking for are fencers who are committed to elevating their defense and honing their abilities to block. We want to see fencers who train seriously and constantly work on improving how they defend. It could be by learning new techniques, optimizing some, or emphasizing different methods of thought to how to successfully stay alive in a fight.
- Suggested Next Lesson: Reviewing the Basic Blocks or taking lessons like Advanced Movement, Advanced Attacks, or taking a defensive sides class like Cloak, Buckler, or Deathstick could help you either build off of or implement these advanced principles.
- Activities to Try: Try spending a practice without any intention of getting a kill. Only defending and surviving. You can also watch other fencers who have particularly strong defenses and study their techniques with another fencer or peer.
- Conversations To Have: Pick a favorite block and ask five different people to explain how they use it. Pay attention to what their focus is and what situations they use it in. What similarities or differences do you notice?