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Sword Techniques - Feints
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Sun Tzu maintains that deception is a primary part of the art of war. This extends directly to sword fighting in the form of the feint. While some masters of the sword dismissed feints as merely a waste of movement and useless fancy flourishing that won't affect trained opponents, the technique still has its uses.

The sole purpose of a feint in sword fighting is to draw the opponent's blade away from its defensive position. This leaves an opening within the opponent's defenses which you may then leverage to your advantage. Some people use double feints, however it should be noted that the more you utilize a feint, the more opportunities you provide your opponent to read your attack patterns and memorize the shape of your attacks. This essentially means that if you liberally pepper your attacks with feints, they will soon lose all value as the opponent will not divert his weapon from its optimum defensive guard. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that a fencer learn to use feints sparingly and effectively.

So how do you use a feint effectively? A proper feint is backed by a good track record of threatening attacks. If your opponent knows, for example, that you like to attempt a touch on their legs fairly consistently, you may use this knowledge against them once or twice. Set up your attack targeting the legs and begin your thrust. Once you see your opponent reacting to the strike, you rotate the blade around the parrying blade the opponent is presenting and drive the full thrust home into any open targeted areas now exposed to a thrust.

Occasionally you can use a double feint effectively. This is most aptly utilized if the opposing fencer is somewhat familiar with your fencing style, including your favorite feints and defensive measures. In this situation you would notice that your opponent is able to easily read and counter your initial feint. Therefore rather than complete the next thrust, you feint back to the original area in which you thrust and feinted from.

Without incorporating feinting techniques into your fighting style, creating openings within your opponent's defenses will prove to be extremely challenging. It is therefore essential to drill natural feinting strategies into your attack training drills. You can make your feints appear more natural if you step with the strikes and take the time to ensure that your body is following the attack. This will convince your opponent that you are indeed seriously attacking them and make it much more likely for them to shift their guard to take your thrust into account. Then all that remains is applying Sun Tzu's teachings to the the situation.

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