Fencing Drills - Wall Touches

Wall touches work for all sorts of things. Wall touches at their basic level is when you touch the wall with your rapier.

Why Wall Touches ROCK as a home drill.

1 - They're easy cheesy to do. Seriously, if you do wall touches just on commercial breaks from watching a TV show, you get a few HUNDRED done in an hour of TV watching. And you don't even feel like it.

2 - You learn your distance without question.

3 - You learn better calibration through tactile experience.

4 - You can practice your form without worrying about anything but form. No worrying about your opponents sword or anything else. Just form. You can go as quickly or as slowly as desired to get it right.

5 - It improves you muscle strength and muscle control.

6 - Point control, point control, point control. If you can't put your point exactly where you want it you're going to have lots of problems. Generally speaking this game is about making sure your fencing partner gets the point.

Ways to Do Wall Touches

Really there are a myriad of ways one can do wall touches and can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. Here are my thoughts on "best practices," when doing wall touches.

1 - Do your foot work right every time. When facing a wall with targets on it you don't have to worry about getting killed so there really is no excuse for sloppy foot work. Footwork is your foundation for fencing. Construct a sloppy foundation for your home and eventually your home will crumble. Construct a sloppy foundation for your fencing and eventually you will have to retrain yourself years down the line. Learn it right the first time and you can avoid having this intensely frustrating experience.

Keeping your big toe pointed at the spot you are aiming for is very important. Just a little off causes your shot to head more toward where your toe is pointed then where you want the shot to go. Along these lines keep your form right as well. Keep up your defense whatever that is at the time, hand, dagger, buckler or whatever.

2 - Place your targets reasonably. Don't put any targets up 7 feet on the wall. While cool, you won't run into 7 feet tall fencer that much. And if you do, really there'll be other targets to hit. Some folks make profiles of people and put targets inside that. Other just use the dots. Do what works for you, try a couple of things out. And if you have the room, do several of them.

3 - Practice with BOTH HANDS, not just your dominant side. Sooner or later you are going to lose your dominant hand and you will need to switch to your "off hand." Most people notice that they aren't as good with their off hand as they are with their dominant hand. Well, if I know that about you, I'm going to take your hand and then kill you. It is safer for me. If you are just as good with your off hand and your opponent will be in for a nasty surprise when they try that tactic.

Again, there is no reason to get sloppy. Your off hand probably needs MORE work to get it right than your on (dominant,) hand does. This is a perfect time to practice off hand work. No worries about a partner screwing you up. (Again makes sure your footwork is good with your off hand). This will help with dagger and case work as well.

4 - Practice with all the weapon styles. Your stance has a tendency to change depending on the weapons style you are using is. This changes your stance, your balance and your range. Its good to know what you do and when and wall touches work great to help you figure this out when there are fewer distractions around (like some person trying to stab you).

Suggested Drill - Good for thrusts, half-lunges and lunges

1 - My favorite basic one. I use a three dot target system. My dots are 1/2" masking tape. You can color with a sharpie or buy and use different colored tapes. Each dot different than the one above or below it. This system presumes you are shooting only for the center line of your opponent but helps with point control anywhere on your opponent.

* at neck level

* at sternum (bread basket) level

* at groin level

Top * - ten shots on hand. Alternating between attacking in 2 and attacking in 4. I also use a stesso tempo parry while I'm thrusting.

- Then do the same thing with your off hand.

Move down a * and repeat (middle)

Move down a * and repeat (bottom)

Move up a * and repeat (middle)

Move up a * and repeat (top)

By the time you finish this drill you will have done 100 wall touches. This drill is useful during commercial breaks.

You can do lunges, half lunges and thrusts. If you do lunges be nice to yourself. Start close and then work your way back, in small increments. Stretching first is also a good idea. I remember a class I took on lunging... whoops didn't stretch ENOUGH. I walked funny for a couple of days...

Some folks like to put their dots on door jams so they get a depth perception of the target. Some hate doing that. Find what works for you.