Stealth is as valuable in your competitive fencing as it is in air warfare and espionage. While you don't have enemy radar installations or perimeter alarms to worry about, you do have to consider the opponent's ability to detect what you're about to do to him or her.

The tougher you make it for an opponent to figure out the nature of your attack or counterattack, the more likely you'll be to win the touch. And the tougher it is for the opponent to figure out exactly what you did, the more likely you'll be able to successfully use your "stealth" move again.


  • Fast motions trigger the opponent's onboard "visual burglar alarms"; slow moves generally don't. Use slow motions to set up the first phase of any "compound" (multi-step) attacks or counterattacks .
  • Jerky moves trigger the opponent's onboard "visual burglar alarms"; smooth moves generally don't. Use smooth motions to set up the first phase of any "compound" (multi-step) attacks or counterattacks.
  • Wide or large moves draw an opponent's reactions quicker; they set off his or her "visual burglar alarm". Keep moves as small as possible.
  • Use the fingers and hand to change your blade position--rather than arm motions--whenever possible. Good finger work minimizes what the opponent can see you do as well as minimizing any "telegraphing" of the move you're about to do
  •  Lead with your blade, not with your feet.
    • Vice-versa cues the opponent that you're coming, since it's a "wide" or "large" movement.
    • From an extension alone--at any distance other than extension distance--the opponent should not be able to tell whether your move is a "feint" or a real attack . . . until your feet move. Then, it'll be too late for him or her.
  • Attacks and counterattacks should "flow" out of other moves. Make the attack or counterattack look like something else--change to the next move at the last possible moment.
  • Convert from one move to another as your first move is finishing (e.g., flèching out of a lunge; threatening the underside of the hand then flipping upward to a coupé, etc.)--change up at the last possible moment while increasing your tempo so it's much, much faster than the first move.
  • Wait until the last possible moment to take an opponent's blade away from the target he or she's trying to hit. Your opponent won't be able to adjust quickly enough to your move, nor will he or she be able--most of the time--to figure out exactly what you did. Use hand-flips.

    In short, to achieve stealth requires good, controlled finger work; excellent, controlled footwork; and the ability to effect "at the last possible time" change-ups quickly.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008