EPEE FENCING - MOBILITY AND THE 'FAKE OUT'
"Good footwork is key to becoming a superior fencer"
In her book, Fencing - Steps to Success, Elaine explains the importance of ‘fluid mobility’; quickly changing direction and being able to move at great speed keeps the distance between you and your opponent. She emphasizes that “good footwork is key to becoming a superior fencer”; if your opponent can’t catch you they can’t hit you. But it not all about running away as speedy footwork can just as easily allow you to catch your opponent.
Although, in epee fencing there is a balance, as Adam Steiner points out in his answer to the question: Are there any major differences in footwork seen amongst the different types of fencing? (Foil, epee, saber)? (In epee) “You spend much of your time trying to trick your opponent into believing that you aren't about to move. Moving is counter-productive to that.” This is where the strategy comes into play, when the time is right and only then, you have to be prepared to make your move at lightening speed.
This is why we see an epee fencer bounce more than other styles of fencing, as Phillip Hedges notes in the same Quora answer as cited above, “epee rewards smaller gaps in distance and timing…The advantage of the bounce is that it is easy to hide short lunges and the fleshes.” This is all part of that ‘fake out’ tactic in epee fencing. This article also comments that as the feet and legs are part of the target area you have to be quick to move to reduce exposure or to attack your opponent.
Epee fencing often seems to be more about making your opponent think you are going to do something than actually doing it or vice versa and then taking advantage of that deception with an attack. This is why the chess-like strategy is all part of a fencer’s training. Although the bounce is one of the first things you learn in fencing, it remains part of tactical tools in all levels of fencing. It is also part up the low impact, aerobic activity which enhances the level of fitness for fencers.
In the video below you will see club members Naomi and Henry perform the fencing bounce and tempt one another to go for the attack, each waits patiently for the right time to attack.