As a local martial arts teacher I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge of the arts so that I have more to offer my students. I recently reached out to the UCONN Fencing club in Storrs. The first thing that jumped out at me was that Fencing suits almost everyone! Men and women, big and small, short or tall. Size does not matter in this art since speed is the key. The required equipment was interesting. A steel mask, a light whippy sword and a thick fencing jacket are all you need. I will not even begin to discuss the different styles or rules since they would not fit in this blog. My focus in my studies with this group is their efficient footwork.
Part of Master Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do philosophy was something he called "The Economy of Motion". Meaning be smart with your own energy, direct it where you want it and don't gas out to soon! He studied the western art of Fencing for just this reason. Fencing relies on efficiency and speed as the key to effective combat.
I have to say I am very impressed with the speed that is needed to deliver a strike. Like most martial arts, footwork is the foundation of an effective strike and Fencing is no different. To hit your target you must move to the target and that starts with footwork. Shuffling your feet forward and back (Without crossing them) assists the practitioner in gaining superior position for an effective strike.
Think about it, we use footwork in everyday life. Picking up something you dropped on the floor, while vacuuming, while sweeping, act. Footwork is the foundation of our daily lives. Including when they are in danger! If someone suspicious is approaching you it is important to be aware of where you are. Is there something behind you that may cause you to trip? Turning your body so that your feet are forced to shuffle side to side while backing up will allow you better stability in the event you have to run.
Studying this art has helped me refocus on the importance of footwork, which can sometimes get lost when you study many different styles. The students at UCONN have been very gracious and are well mannered. Respect and courtesy is part of their training, which makes reaching out to them all the more pleasurable.
Todd T Jensen is a local martial arts instructor and a practitioner in Boxing, Kickboxing, Kali and Jiujitsu. For more information please visit: www.facebook.com/IntegratedPersonalDefense