Teaching the feint…

One of the most irritating things I have to do when I get new students from other coaches is to convince them that a feint is an attack. Too often when I ask for a feint, the student sticks their arm out and waits for me to parry. Invariably, I don’t parry and the student disengages and lunges into a closed line, and I hit them with a riposte. They look confused, and I can understand why. I’m not doing what they were told: I can hear their previous coach in my head: “First you make feint. Then you wait for parry from opponent. Then you disengage and lunge. Score, yes?!”

Except that approach to making a feint and disengage never works past the fencer’s beginning class.

Try an experiment. Tell your student to make an attack in the inside high line (just for convenience). Now ask them to make a feint and disengage in the same line. Do they start different? Do they¬†look different? They shouldn’t. A feint is an attack that ends up in a different line than when it started, the key word here being “started”.

I’ve spoke of this elsewhere (on the main website at “Lies, Damn Lies, and Feints”, but it still bugs me when I run into it my daily teaching.

1 Comment
  1. I see this a lot when I work with someone in a drill situation. It came up at a recent clinic too. I’m supposed to react with a parry for a drill and I just sit there when they “feint”. They look at me very funny when I tell them, “Why would I parry if you aren’t going to hit me?” I see this problem even with fairly experienced fencers. This is why I prefer the “situations” type drills where the other person’s goal is to hit on the attack, and mine is to parry-riposte, then they may choose to attack with disengage, but they can always keep me honest by just attacking straight.

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