When learning about fencing and fencing equipment you will definitely hear about tempo. Every fencer has a natural tempo, but if a fencer can learn to incorporate different tempos into a bout, he or she will be very difficult to beat. Breaking the tempo, or disrupting the rhythm of an opponent is one of the most important skills a fencer can master. It is also one of the most difficult.
What is tempo?
The tempo is the rhythm of the fencers. Each fencer will have their own tempo and the heartbeat of the bout will reflect the battle of each tempo, and their variations, for dominance. If you can learn to use all four tempo variations and control them at will, you will be difficult to beat.
Is tempo only fast or slow?
Tempo can be either fast or slow; however along with speed it also has two other factors. Tempo can also be hard or soft. A hard tempo will use heavier movements, while a soft tempo has a much lighter approach.
Is timing the same as tempo?
No, timing is different to tempo. Charles Selberg defined timing as:
“the correct moment to make an action”
If a fencer can master timing, then he or she will be very hard to beat. The best time to attack is when an opponent is not expecting it. When an opponent is not prepared to defend themselves they are vulnerable. A fencer with great timing can create that moment. Preparation in fencing, means controlling the bout to the extent that you can attack your opponent when they are not expecting it.
The best time for a direct attack
A great time to attack an opponent during a bout is when you have created the right distance between yourself and your opponent. The closer you are the more difficult it will be to defend against you.. To commit to an attack from too far away is easier to counter and can leave you vulnerable.
In the words of Charles Selberg:
“Tempo provides the heartbeat of the bout. It is where you set your opponent up with a well-timed attack from the right distance”
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