Sabre is all about deception.
The types of deception used are generally different for women’s sabre and men’s sabre. For men – and frankly, only the young guns before their joints start to go and their brains start working – deception is mainly around speed and distance. Pretend to be slower than you are, with shorter range, and hit your opponent by surprise from further and/or sooner than they expected.
For women’s sabre, this usually isn’t an option especially if they are training in a mixed environment with men who are physically more suited to blazing speed. Deception in women’s sabre (and old man game) is primarily around intention. The most common deception of this type is to fake the intention to attack. There are two basic applications:
1. Fake the attack at the start of the bout: this deception is based on simulating the speed, sound, and body language of making an attack in the 4m zone while hiding your minimal insertion distance into the 4m zone and your intention to parry riposte their immediate attack.
2. While on the march: this deception is based on simulating the speed, sound, and body language of finishing the attack, while hiding your real distance being too far away for your opponent to counterattack or beat your blade, and your intention to trick your opponent into retreating so that you can anticipate when they will subsequently slow down (and thus give you an opportunity to actually accelerate to finish your attack and hit).
We complemented these applications with backup actions should the initial deception fail.
For application 1 (faking the attack in the 4m zone), we practiced an initial backup to take the opponent’s blade should they not be deceived by the fake attack and proceed to continue their attack while holding back. We also practiced a secondary backup to takeover priority if the opponent decided to also make fall short instead.
For application 2, we practiced an initial backup of flunge (K-style) for opponents who refused to retreat from the fake attack, and a secondary backup of jump back/parry riposte for opponents who decided to parry forward or counterattack instead.
The drills we executed were as follows:
- Drill 1: Fake attack to make fall short, fake finishes during march
- Drill 2: As per 1, with backup 1 (take blade) in the 4m zone.
- Drill 3: As per 2, with backup 1 and 2 (takeover) in the 4m zone.
- Drill 4: As per 3, with backup 1 (flunge) during the March
- Drill 5: As per 4, with backup 1 and 2 (jump back/parry riposte) during the March.
More to follow.