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 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.