The Tyshler Footwork Training DVD
With modern technology, video is easy to produce. It's only natural that some forward-thinking fencing academy has decided to commit its training regimen to DVD and distribute it to the world. For a sport like fencing (or any sport), the visual approach really, really works. Ten seconds of video easily replaces three pages of written text.
Learning fencing from books? Who thought that would be useful? Open a "How to fence" book, and the words are mere scribbles that fill the page between the pictures. The illustrations do all the heavy lifting. So video, on DVD, easily slides into the role of teaching tool.
The Tyshler Footwork Training DVD is for fencers who seek to improve their footwork, and for instructors who seek new ideas for exercises. The premise is simple: Doing these exercises, in the order shown, will engender good footwork habits. (The series of exercises that improve the lunge should be required in every fencing class.)
Example: You have a young student who always turns his knees in when en guard (or maybe it's you). You know this will have repercussions in the future, say, when they try their first flying lunge and land on the knee sideways. But, other than bellowing, "Knees forward!", what can you do?
Squats. Simple as that. Squat from the ready position, squat from the en guard. Have you ever tried to squat, with your front toes facing forward and your front knee going sideways? Doesn't happen. In two simple exercises, the student learns a good habit, and learns it kinesthetically, in a way that makes sense to the body rather than just the mind.
The video starts with a short background on David Tyshler, which lists his results and establishes that he knows what he's talking about. David Tyshler is a professer of the Russian State Academy of Physical Education, and was a prizewinner of the World Championships and the Olympic Games. He has has coached five Olympic champions. Gennady Tyshler, Ph.D., has coached six World Champions and one Olympic Champion.
Then there's some music, and a series of excellent slow-motion video clips from world-class tournaments. You're supposed to watch the footwork, but most of the time you'll be marveling over how liquid and flexible the metal blades appear in a strong fencer's hand, when the actions are slowed down.
When the footwork exercises begin, the video clips feature several different fencers. These fencers are in uniform, and they execute their footwork actions against a curtained background. The moves are clear, the fencers are experienced, and the tripod-mounted camera rarely needs to pan. (It's not plain how good some of these fencers are, until you try the actions yourself... like the one where you jump up from a lunge and cross your legs, landing in a lunge again. These fencers make it look easy.) Explanations of each exercise are offered with a good, clear English voice-over.
The footwork exercises are presented with increasing difficulty.
The En Guard position (7 exercises)
Training of step forward and backward (4 exercises)
Training of the Lunge (13 exercises)
Training of the jump forward and the jump backward (5 exercises)
Training of the step-forward lunge and jump-forward lunge (5 exercises)
Training of the fleche attack (6 exercises)
Training footwork combinations (11 combinations)
You will need to create your own daily regimen from these footwork exercises. Apart from the order of introduction, the video does not offer a "start with this routine, and then progress to this and that" sort of timeline. These exercises are received wisdom, and (as good as it is) the video doesn't tell you how to internalize them and make them your own. For that, you must run these routines until you can do them in your sleep.
Fencing is distance. This DVD gives you the grounding you need to build a strong footwork game.