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A Newbie Guide to Fencing Tournaments (Part 2 – The Warm Up)

It seemed like my first post in this series was pretty popular, so I’m going to add to this by talking about how to warm up before fencing in a tournament.

First off, if your coach has given you specific guidelines about how to warm up, then ignore what I say here and listen to your coach.

The main focus of your warm up should be to get your body in a state where you are ready to fence the event without increased risk of injury. I’m going to take some tips from triathlon here, mainly the adage, “Nothing new on race day.” So for fencing, tournament day is not the time to try out a new weapon, new glove, or new warm up routine.*

I’ll do the first part of my warm up in just my fencing socks/shoes, knickers, and a t-shirt. Sometimes I listen to music, but sometimes I don’t. The first part (footwork) generally takes me 10 to 15 minutes.

When I warm up for a tournament, I use the same routine that I would in practice. Here is my specific set of exercises:

  • Light jog until my legs feel loose.
  • Arm circles until my arms feel loose.
  • Footwork:
    • Stand on guard, bend my knees and ankles. If I’m particularly stiff, just do one advance, one retreat and focus on getting some mobility in my joints.
    • Easy footwork: two advances, one retreat halfway down the strip, then two retreats, one advance until I return to my starting point. I do this maybe 3 or 4 times.
    • Start to throw in slow lunges at the end of the previous footwork drill.
    • Easy attacks: advance, advance, lunge down the strip a few times. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ll do more complicated attacks, throwing in jumps, simulate missing and retreating, etc.
  • Weapon circles: This is for injury prevention. I have had problems with tendonitis in my elbow, so this seems to help keep it at bay. I put my glove on and pick up a sabre at this point and just swing it around. I’m not trying to do anything technical, just rotate my wrist and make big circles.

From this point, I may do more foot work or I may not. It depends on how my legs and back feel. You’re going to have to figure out how much to do for yourself. In general, I fence better with more of a warm up. But there are times (where I’m sore from the previous day, sick, or nursing a borderline injury) that I may stop sooner.

After this part of my warm up, I’ll look to do some warm up bouts. There are generally fencers warming up all around. Find people that are in your event and ask if you can rotate in. Generally, fencers warming up will go to 5 and then whomever refereed rotates in.

When you fence warm up bouts, you’re not trying to win. You need to try different things to get all the parts of your body coordinated. Vary your actions and work on getting your timing up to speed.

This is also a great chance to make sure that your electric equipment is all working. If you show up on the strip for the tournament with something broken, you’ll get a yellow card.

Stop when you feel like you’re ready. I try to time the end of my warm up so that I have a few minutes to sit before pools start. You may need to refill your water bottle, use the bathroom, or have a snack.

*Of course if your equipment breaks or fails checks, you may have to use something new. But try to avoid this.

See the rest of the Newbie Guide to Fencing Tournaments:

Read more about fencing here.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: A Newbie Guide to Fencing Tournaments (Part 1 – Basics) | Clare L. Deming

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