Right of Way
|Winning a fencing match is a point by point endeavor, so knowledge
of the "phrase" is crucial to determining how to get, and
how your opponent is getting, the points in the bout. Below are
the various stages and concepts one uses to describe the action during
a fencing match.
Right of Way - Directly from the USFA rulebook
"1. The simple attack, direct or indirect (cf. t.8), is correctly
Seriously though, the best way to obtain a sense of right of way is to fence, particularly against those with a solid grounding in the concept. I liken it to French new wave cinema--you don't understand what you're seeing the first time, but the more you engage in it, the more the actions become familiar. Then, after you understand the techniques and methods used to create the action, you can begin to understand the concepts behind it.
The Attack - The attack is either a simple or compound (see the Offense section) maneuver that successfully nets right of way for the attacker.
The Advance Lunge - Note the excerpt from the rulebook in the "Right of Way" section. Note point 3. Note it again. Reread it. Now begin to memorize it. Close your eyes are recite it. Reread.
Translated: if you begin your extension within an advance immediately preceding your lunge, you maintain right of way (unless it is taken) from the beginning of your extension through the duration of your lunge. Know this rule. Execute it, and respect it when your opponent does it. Note: an arrest must begin before the opponent's extension begins to successfully score a point.
Parry/Riposte - Classically, a parry is an action of the blade that, through contact with the attacking blade, successfully moves the latter out of the defender's target line. In modern fencing, it seems, a parry is any blade contact, initiated by the defender, that takes place during the initiation and conclusion of the opposing fencer's attack. A riposte is an attack that follows the parry. In regards to the riposte, the rulebook says,
"The parry gives the right to riposte: the simple riposte may
That last bit is generally a good rule to follow.
Remise/Reprise/Redoublement - Ugh. Is this the most debated concept in fencing? Perhaps. Is it the silliest debate taking place? Without a doubt. For your purposes, any of these refers to an attack that is not a counter-riposte, but which follows either a failed initial attack, or an opponent's parry. There are subtle differences between the three, but none of them are anything you should rely on to score touches consistently.
Preparation - In my opinion, the second most important concept in modern foil, behind right of way. If you can decide when preparation exists, you can decide when right of way exists, and vice versa. In short, preparation is any action which precedes, or prepares the body for, the initiation of an attack. Countless incarnations exist, and variations may include but are not limited to, a break in the forward motion of the arm during extension, a "search" for the opponent's blade, a reaction to an opponent's counter-attack that breaks the attack, and so on.