Week 14: Advance and Double-Advance Lunge

Dear Instructor:

Welcome to Week 14. We continue our exploration of timing in sabre as per the rest of Level 2, but indirectly this time: we introduce the concept of technique backups, and reinforce the role of rhythm in attacks, with the advance-lunge / double-advance lunge combo.

Accelerate moves with increasing duration

Sabre moves should accelerate, as a general rule, i.e. they should start slow and finish fast. On the March, this helps you surprise your opponent; on the Defence, this helps you keep up.

Moves should not keep a constant rhythm because this telegraphs your rhythm to your opponent, making it easy for them to execute their counter at the correct time. In only rare cases should a move decelerate – we will cover this later in the Course, as this is typically a type of feint.

The corollary to this rule is that the longer the move, the more it should accelerate. Lunges are short-duration as a 1-count move (essentially an action); they don’t accelerate much. Advance-lunges as a 3-count move should accelerate a lot, e.g. 1–2-3!

Longer attacks should accelerate even more. In this session, we introduce the double-advance lunge. In its simplest form, it is a consistently accelerating move:


Note that this notation is relative: the first 3 counts (i.e. 1—-2—3–) should be the same accelerating rhythm as per your advance-lunge. This means, of course, that the double-advance lunge finishes much faster – and with more force – than the advance-lunge, with flow-on increased effectiveness as an attack.

Two potential problems:

  • You can’t move fast enough to accelerate continuously throughout the entire double-advance lunge, or you have to slow down your preparation step substantially to do so – which telegraphs intent to your opponent.
  • The long duration of this move, with no opportunity to reassess during execution, makes you vulnerable to counterattacks and sweeps.

We therefore usually break up the double-advance lunge into two linked parts, with a long step (on ‘3’) in between:


Look familiar? This is similar timing to the accordion fakes we covered earlier in Level 2. There, the long ‘3’ step was used to simulate a lunge before ‘aborting’ into the fake.

Here, the long ‘3’ step provides an opportunity, however brief, for the Attacker to see and potentially parry or finish against a counterattack; it also breaks up the rhythm to help surprise the Defender.

Accelerate to convert between moves

This doesn’t mean you can abort a double-advance lunge into advances, however, or even convert from a fake to a finish – whether that is an advance-lunge or double-advance lunge.

The reason is partly physics and partly rule-based: you can always add more energy into a move to convert it into a more energetic move; you can’t easily remove energy from a move to convert it into a less energetic move. Referees also detect a loss of energy – typically manifesting as deceleration or a ‘stop’ – as a failed attack or ‘attack-no’.

You can’t convert a fake into a finish: the fake must be pre-planned to decelerate gracefully to avoid being labelled an ‘attack-no’. That forms the end of the fake; the Attacker can then launch a range of actions: lunge, advance-lunge, another fake, etc.

What you can do is convert an advance-lunge into a double-advance lunge. The caveat here, however, is that you must accelerate the last part – from the end of the initial advance-lunge into what is effectively a second advance-lunge – to form a near continuous accelerating move.

How continuous is ‘near-continuous’? As continuous as the broken-rhythm double-advance lunge noted earlier:


Decide when to convert during prep steps and other ‘long’ actions

The decision to finish with an advance-lunge or double-advance lunge is made in two parts:

  1. On the initial prep step, you decide to finish with an advance-lunge because the Defender looks like they will stay in place.
    • Note: if the Defender looks like they are about to run away, you would fake instead.
  2. During the advance component of the advance-lunge, and just prior to the lunge itself, you make a second decision on whether to finish the advance-lunge or convert the lunge into a long step to finish as a double-advance lunge.

How it works in practice:

  1. On ‘1–‘: prep step. See if Defender is running away or staying in place.
  2. Assuming Defender stays mostly in place, back-step to commence advance-lunge on ‘2’.
  3. Just as you lunge on ‘3’, check that the Defender is within range.
    • If so, finish lunge to hit. (‘3!’)
    • If not, start lunging anyway but minimise power to it, converting it into a long step. (‘3‘)
  4. Accelerate aggressively on ‘4’ with the back-step.
  5. Launch a maximum-power lunge on ‘5’ to complete the double-advance lunge.

Putting it together

From Wall Drill position:

  1. (Revision) Attacker: Accordion 1-3 fakes to finish with advance-lunge. Defender: match rhythm retreat with sweeps and jump-back parry riposte. Attacker should win most, but not all of the time, e.g. 75:25.
  2. Attacker: As above, but finishing each time with double-advance lunge. Defender: as above. Attacker should win most of the time but at dangerously close range; likely caught by the sweep.
  3. Attacker: As above, but converting from advance-lunge to double-advance lunge. Defender: as above, but can also counterattack if desired. Attacker should win most exchanges, e.g. 90:10.

One of things your students may note is how even their rudimentary counterattacks from Level 1 are moderately effective against the double-advance lunge. We will build on those next week, with timing, to strengthen their Defence.

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