Samantha Auty proudly sponsored by Fencing Imports Australia

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Hi All,

This was my final competition for my tour overseas in 2015. My result was just as bad as the last world cup and this analysis may seem a bit shallow but I think there a couple of simple things I can change that will help me to improve. Despite my results I want to continue to compete internationally and I am largely positive because of the people I have met here.


Cut after the poule rounds, with no victories and 6 defeats.

First match: 5-0 defeated by Pochekutova- Kazakhstan

Second Match: 5-2 defeated by Stagni-Italy

Third Match: 5-2 defeated by Besbes- Tunisia

Fourth Match: 5-4 defeated by Vila- Spain

Fifth Match: 5-2 defeated by Suarez- Venezuela

Sixth Match: 5-0 defeated by Page-Canada


I was definitely more relaxed than usual. I had no trouble falling asleep and didn’t really feel nervous in the lead up to the competition. Sports psychology talks a lot about the range of ‘pure focus’ or ‘peak performance’ lying somewhere between not being nervous and being too nervous. I was at the bottom end of the scale and was not focused because I was just simply TOO relaxed.


I couldn’t understand exactly what I could do to get hits off my opponents. I am used to coaching myself in  competition but I think my mental state was far too relaxed and unfocused to be able to pick up on what I could do.

Secondly, I didn’t feel like I could trust my hand to finish an attack properly or to parry properly. A a result I was not going for hits I should have been and was not fencing well.

Thirdly, like the last competition I was not upset by my result. This is very bad. It measn I was not fired up at all and in a good competitive mind set. This needs to be fixed.


  • I NEED A COACH. Not at competitions but so I can get lessons as part of my training at home. I have had ver few lessons when I have been in Melbourne and I can hit a dummy all I want but without a coach training me to use the right timing and to speed up my hand technique I will never improve my bladework. Without this I cannot trust my bladework in a competition.
  • Learn how to fire myself up again. This is the complete opposite of what I used to be like and I never thought I would have to figure out how to fire myself up because I have always had to spend time trying to calm myself down. Time to find the middle ground.
  • I need to change how I train. I need to spend more time bouting to practice particular actions and timing, and not just training for the sake of it. Quality as well as quantity.

There is a lot of work for me to do now, but I need to endeavour to do it with a different mind set. I need to take lessons and be more mindful about why and what I am doing something for rather than just going through the motions.

I am heading to Abu Dhabi now to sit the FIE Refereeing Exam for Sabre. I will post about that and the Observational test for Epee before heading back home.

Thanks for reading guys!



Monday, 16 February 2015

ORGANISING AN OVERSEAS TRIP- A step by step checklist

Hi All,

This post I wanted to go through everything that I organise when I am planning my trips overseas for training and competing. This post is a bit longer than usual but I hope that it can help fencers thinking of traveling overseas plan and organise their own tours down to the very last detail.


It might seem like an obvious question but this is limited not only by the FIE, Asian Fencing Confederation and European circuit calendars but also my school, university and work. To make a trip cost-effective you have to be able to combine high-level training with competitions that are in a similar geographical area. This means not having to do multiple return trips from another continent.

·         What competitions are you aiming to do? What part of the calendar contains competitions close together either in time or geographically? The best resources are the FIE calendar -> http://fie.org/competitions

The Asian Fencing Confederation website -> http://www.asianfencing.com/fca2013/pages/calendar.asp

The European Fencing Confederation website -> http://www.eurofencing.info/content/calendar

The Australian Fencing Federation website to check what competitions you can qualify for and how to nominate for the competitions -> http://www.ausfencing.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=236&Itemid=394, for the International Representation page

·         Next up, Where are you going to train? Start at home for this. Does your coach know anyone overseas you can train with? Do you? Can a fencing friend help you with introduction to a coach or club overseas? This is really up to you. I train with the Italian Women’s Sabre team in Rome but as this is a national training centre and not a club it required an official letter from the AFF to the Italian Federation to organise. This may not be required to train at a club rather than with the national team. Additionally, I write my own strength and conditioning programs and technical programs so that I can use the facilities. If you prefer someone writing this for you club environment might be better.

·         What time off do I have? When are your school or university holidays? How much leave do you have off for work? This will affect your trip and how much time you have overseas.


Now you know where you are going, how long you are overseas for and how long you are in each place for it is best to take care of the most expensive things first: flights and accommodation.

·         Can you get flights on sale? There are usually flight sales mid-year for the winter off-peak travel season to Europe and America. I use a travel agent to book flights because I generally found they wold be cheaper than if I booked them myself. My travel agent is Helloworld in Eltham. However, for short haul flights (inside Europe) travel agents generally can’t book low cost airlines such as RyanAir so it may be better to book these yourself.

·         Alternatively, train travel is a really good way to get around European countries and nearby countries as well. Explore this as an option particularly if you are competing in some local national competitions. This is a useful website for exploring this option -> http://www.raileurope-world.com/

·         For big competitions there are usually official designated hotels. These can be expensive but the venue may be far away and they tend to have a bus operating between the two. Another option is to book a cheaper hotel nearby and just catch the bus from the official hotel each day. These details will be next to the competition as it is listed on the FIE website under the ‘Invitation’ heading.

·         Not all competitions have an official hotel. For smaller competitions there are a few options for picking hotels. I find the best way is to look for transport options as well as cost. Is there a hotel close to the venue? Is there one close to a metro station on the same line? For example: in Istanbul I stayed closer to the tourist area near Taksim Square. This was on the same metro line as the station near the venue (the venue was a 5 min walk), it took 25 mins to get to the venue by train and about 1.50 euro for the ticket. It was a cheap and convenient option.

·         During training for a few weeks accommodation can be expensive but there a couple of cheaper options. Can you stay with another fencer? This by far the cheapest option if you are training with them. Can you find an apartment stay? The best website for this is www.airbnb.com. And if you are comfortable with a super cheap option try a hostel with a shared kitchen, a resource for this is www.booking.com. For example in Rome I stay in a small hostel 3 stations away from the training venue (and 5 mins walk). It is small and quiet with a shared kitchen, a laundry, and very good wifi. Take a look: http://www.comicsguesthouse.it/


·         The next part is sorting out Visas (if you need them). Europe is pretty straight forward unless you are going to countries like Russia. I would recommend checking this at least 4 months in advance in case you do need to apply.

·         This trip I needed a Turkish visa which was easy as they have an eVisa system and in most cases you can purchase your visa online. For Abu Dhabi I can purchase a Visa on arrival. I also have a British passport as a dual citizen and travel on this in Europe which is easy


So after the important things are sorted the next bit to organise are all those little (and annoying) transport details. How are you getting from the airport to your accommodation? Do you need to take a connecting intercity train? What are your transport options to and from training? If we had unlimited funds taking taxis everywhere would be great but as most of us don’t we need to get acquainted with the public transport system of the places we are staying in.

·         I take a bus to and from the airport in Rome. That’s right, a bus. It is cheaper than the train and cheaper if you pre-purchase a ticket (11 euro return) and it stops near Vatican City about 10 mins walk from my accommodation in Rome. Super-easy. The key to traveling to and from airports is investigating when your flight arrives and what your options are to where you are staying. Buses, trains, transfers are all common options. The best place to find out what your options are is to head to your arrival airport’s website.

·         Sometimes you will need to take a longer train ride to your accommodation particularly because most fencing competitions are in smaller cities or towns than where the nearest airport is. Make sure you have a timetable and check if you can pre-purchase tickets because it can be cheaper than buying on the day.

·         When you are catching metro or inner city trains make sure you have small notes or change. You can break the 50 euro note at the supermarket but rarely at the station ticket office.


Absolutely essential. Read your policy twice before you buy it and take a copy of your Certificate of Insurance with you. If anything happens this is your go to piece of paper.

I purchase my insurance from Travel Insurance Direct because they have flexible options, it is relatively well priced, and I can apply easily online. http://www.travelinsurancedirect.com.au



Now to sort out carrying funding around. How are you going to pay for your accommodation? Tickets? Food? Some needs cash and some can be paid by card. It can be useful to use a combination of the two so you avoid carrying $3,000 around in your luggage.

·         There are a few options for having a card that works overseas. I use a Visa debit card attached to my regular bank account. You can also get a TravelCard, this needs to be organised a month before. Australia Post has some options http://auspost.com.au/travel-id/travel-cards.html and most banks also offer travel options as well. If you are going to use a card attached to your bank account make sure you inform your bank of your travel plans beforehand so they can watch out for any fraudulent use of your card.

·         Taking money out overseas costs around $5 per transaction so it can be better to take a lot of money out at once. This is ideal for pick pockets. Make sure you separate your money and keep it in secure compartments, safes or wallets. I have a travel wallet for when I am carrying money on transport and keep everything spare in a hotel safe or locked locker in my hostel room.


This is important to sort out if you want to stay in touch and have call and text access while you are away without incurring global roaming fees.

·         For mobiles it is now very easy to get travel sims with data included. There is a lot out there, even Woolworths offers a global travel sim! Make sure you know what you want. Some travel SIMs are only useful for calling Australia while you are overseas and not making local calls.

·         Asides from SIMs you can also keep in touch whenever you have WiFi by using the text service app WhatsApp.

·         Skype is useful as well for video calls to keep in touch particularly if you are travelling with a tablet or laptop.

·         Make sure you have travel adaptors for your chargers.


The most dreaded and all important, ‘I leave in 2 days, time to procrastinate’ part of planning your trip. First of all, think about this stuff a month beforehand and DO NOT TAKE STUFF YOU WILL NOT ABSOLUTELY NEED.

·         Clothes: Start with what two days-worth of training clothes. I say two days because after the first day you can wash it, it dries in a day and you wear it again. Three days maximum. Then add one casual outfit ie jeans and a t-shirt. Pyjamas do not require more than pants and a top and you will not need four jumpers, or more than one beanie for that matter.

·         Invest in a really good (duck-down) winter jacket that you can waterproof. It will be all you need.

·         Bring one easily-packed down travel towel.

·         A travel toiletries bag is really good for organising toiletries. Try and buy shampoo when you are there because you do not want to travel with big bottles but buying little bottles of liquids is un-sustainable. Take roll-on deodorant, travel sized spray-on deodorant lasts two weeks at most.

·         Bring a re-usable shopping bag for food shopping or other things, they are very useful to have. I have one that packs down to a really tiny ball so it doesn’t take up space.

·         Pack your fencing breeches and named jackets into your carry on as they are the hardest things to replace if the aircraft carrier loses your fencing bag.

·         Take your technology and copies of your important documents in your carry on as well. This includes copies of travel documents such as visas and passports, itinerary, etickets, transport pre-booked tickets, accommodation booking confirmation, public transport maps, and emergency contact numbers eg toll free visa line.


These are things specific to sport and fencing that you need travelling overseas. Same principle as packing, take it if you might absolutely need it.

·         A first aid kit is important because you don’t know what facilities where you are competing are like. Pack the basics but add sports tape, cold and flu tablets (keep in mind that under WADA you must stop taking these tablets 24 hours before competition), gastrostop powder sachets, deep heat or voltaren, and any other prescribed medication.

·         A fencing ‘fixing’ kit is also needed as you never know whether a stall will be at the competition venue to help you. For sabre a basic kit should include: an allen key, sandpaper, wirestripper, small screwdrivers (phillips or flat head depending on your body wire type), small sewing kit, small patch of lame material, and spare washers.

·         Only take one set of your fencing gear (except wires and weapons), if you take care of your mask, lame, and glove they will work.

·         Take spare blades (not 4 complete weapons).

·         Most elite athletes now bring foam rollers when they travel. I bring a hard hockey ball instead to use for self-massage at the top of the muscle. It is more specific than foam rolling.

10. FOOD

There are a couple of things to consider when planning your diet when you travel. If you have dietary requirements this becomes more crucial.

·         I tend to find stay somewhere where I can cook my own meals when I am training. That way it is easier for me to stick to my regular diet.

·         Find out if there is a supermarket, markets or health food stores near to your accommodation beforehand. This is a massive time saver.

·         Water- this tip is more for travelling through airports because I get really dehydrated on flights. I take a filter water bottle with me so I can fill up anywhere (as long as it is after security). Bobble bottle sells these in Australia- > http://www.waterbobble.com.au/product-bottle.html

I hope this list of things to organise is helpful! It is long but there are a lot of things to organise for a two month fencing trip J

Thanks for reading and feel free to share this with friends!

Monday, 2 February 2015


Hi All,

My conclusions from this competition are going to sound a bit scatterbrained but I am not exactly sure where to go from here. This is my worst result in a World Cup, ever. I have never lost every bout before, let alone thrashed by everyone in my poule. Trying to find things to improve on and a direction to move in has been particularly difficult after this result.
However, while it may be impossible to put a positive spin on my performance in this World Cup I would like to mention that my favourite thing about Athens was that we were competing in the 2004 Olympic complex. This is made even more special by the fact that the 2004 Athens Olympics was the first time Women's Sabre was part of the Olympics.
Here are some photos of the Olympic Stadium and complex:



Cut after the poule rounds, with no victories and 5 defeats.

First match: 5-2 defeated by Baeza Ceturion- Brazil

Second Match: 5-1 defeated by Pasternak- Poland

Third Match: 5-0 defeated by Echeverria- Mexico

Fourth Match: 5-1 defeated by Aksamit-USA

Fifth Match: 5-0 defeated by Kravatska- Ukraine


I was well rested going into the competition and I followed a good mental preparation plan involving deep breathing muscle activation exercises and visual imagining as well. My warm up was good. For the first time I was in the last flight of poules but I had a good warm up and plenty of bouting. I felt relaxed and ready going into the poules. Maybe too relaxed?


I felt like I was moving well. In fact it is not like I was not keeping up it was more like I couldn’t get a single point on.  

Secondly, I wasn’t upset. If I fence this badly I am usually livid half way through a match and inconsolable by the end of the poule. It was almost like I was too relaxed and as a result I was not pumped up and preparing myself for defeat.


Hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand. I can’t say it enough. A lot of people trained against were surprised by my result because I move ‘quite well’. I just can’t finish fast enough with my hand or in the right places or draw the finish of an attack with my arm.

Part of my conclusions last year was that I would need to work on my hand control but why has this not improved but my footwork has? Answer: I can fix footwork myself through video analysis and self-feedback but I can’t do that with bladework. I can hit a dummy all day but that is not proper bladework and handwork. I think to improve this technically I need lessons. Lots of lessons with a coach who knows how to speed up my hand and get it working according to the conventions of modern sabre.

  • Get lessons to improve my bladework. Lots of them. And train hard over the next couple of weeks.
  • Be fired up next time. I am over rationalising my competition mindset and as a result I am not mentally fired up.
Handy hint: for pre-comp sore muscles and jiggles you don't need to pack a roller. I travel with a hard hockey ball instead and use this with self-massage techniques to make sure my body is not sore :)

Thanks for reading guys!


Monday, 26 January 2015


This was an interesting experience for both me and Helen. Finishing in 107th place I knew exactly what my student was feeling because I had been in the exact same position before, one win and cut before the direct elimination rounds. All in all I’d say that coaching is similar to fencing in that the more that you are organised the less you have to worry about on the competition day and the more time you can spend focusing on your student.

The handy hint I would have for traveling as a coach is to always have an alternative mode of transport to the hotel if taxis are not available. Although I'm trying to make my favourite thing something other than food my favourite thing about Dourdan has been the cheese.


I put this first because it is really all an athlete cares about while they are traveling, when they have arrived at their destination, and after a competition.

·         Bring travel snacks and keep your athletes hydrated. It is the day before a competition and by the time you check in for a two hour flight, land and then catch a two hour train ride you have spent 7 hours traveling, even if you get lunch on the way athletes need snacks to keep fuelled the day before a comp.

·         Check where the nearest supermarket is to the hotel before you leave. The quicker you can get bottled water and snacks the day before a comp the better. Same with nearby restaurants.

·         Tell your athletes to buy bottled water for the venue. Even if tap water is drinkable you never know if there is a place to fill up at the venue. The only place to fill up in Dourdan was the bathroom taps which were pretty unclean.


·         Do weapons check the night before. Most international comps will have weapons check at one of the official hotels the night before the comp.

·         Double check that the stamps have been done correctly on your students equipment.


·         Know where the warm up facility is. The warm up or training venue is usually separate to the main fencing hall where the finals piste is, it is good to find out where it is as soon as possible.

·         So that it is easier to prepare your students it is good to find out the poules allocation as soon as possible. In Dourdan this information was not released until 8:55 and the comp started at 9. If you know this may be the case sometimes it is better to prepare your students generally or coach them in between poule bouts.


Organisation is probably the key to being able to coach well during a competition but I would like to focus more on deciding on the specific types of advice to give during a competition because I think this is the hardest thing to learn and really requires you to know your student well.

Technical vs strategic advice:

Technical advice such as ‘Use smaller steps’ can be limiting in a poule bout because under pressure your student can focus on that one aspect of their fencing instead of controlling the bout and fighting. I found that it was better to give more ‘strategic’ advice in these short bouts because when Helen started losing hits because she was holding her arm back on the attack she fenced better when she started using her opponents reaction to this to her advantage instead of trying the same attack and extending her arm faster.

Strategic advice is advice more like trying to take advantage of your opponent’s reactions or technical deficiencies. This is better than technical advice in most cases because technical advice gets your student to focus on their own deficiencies rather than using it to their advantage. I think that technical advice is only useful if you know that your student does not usually display that particular technical deficiency such as using really big steps instead of small ones.


The toughest advice to give is mental advice because it relies so much on what your student is reacting to. In this particular competition Helen knew that this comp was bigger than the previous world cup she had fenced and told me she was excited about how many fencers were there. In reality I think that she was too excited about it and it made her nervous. I was able to pick up on this because I know Helen well, I have seen her compete a lot and when she is focused she is very hard to distract from the competition. In Dourdan she was extremely hyperactive prior to the poule starting and this led to her being overly deflated when things did not go to plan. The hardest thing for me as a coach in this case was to know whether to try and pump her up so she could become focused or try and calm her down to stay focused. I think the advice that worked the most was strategic advice because it got her focused on the next match rather than on her previous performances.

Mental advice is all about experience, how well do you know your student’s reactions to pressure? And do you know whether it is better for them to be calm or do they fence better when they are pumped up?


I found that a lot of coaches in Dourdan prefer to debrief their students’ right after the match regardless of whether they have won or lost. I think this is only suitable in the case of a win and that debriefing after losing should be done a while afterwards, unless your student asks you directly.

Immediately after losing most fencers emotions are caught up in their willingness to improve and fence better. I find that you are generally not able to take on constructive feedback as well as when you have calmed down. This is because this feedback may be still linked with the negative feeling a of a poor performance and therefore seen as negatives eg thinking ‘I was stupid for doing that’ as opposed to ‘ok so I can fix that if I finish to a different line’.

After the competition Helen was despondent, particularly given she had previously finished in the top 16. It was important that any feedback about her performance waited until she had space to clear her head. Sure enough about an hour later she was asking about what she needed to fix technically and strategically to get better.


·         Be Organised: know where you are going, transport timetables, and have copies of everything.

·         Have spare money in case students need to borrow it. We had a situation where the morning of the comp Helen didn’t have enough cash to pay the entry fee.

I hope this gives an insight into what coaching at an international competition is like. I think Australian fencers tend to be really disconcerted in their performance at these large competitions and it is important to be able to manage those doubts as a coach. I also think that the ability to be flexible is crucial. Flexibility is the advice you give, the situations you have to respond to and other people’s disorganisation is very important. The more you are able to do this, the more your student can focus on their performance.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Hi All,

My first post is an analysis about my performance in the satellite tournament in Turkey. Satellite tournaments are smaller than World Cups and FIE points are only awarded to the Top 4 places with 4 points awarded to first place. They are good competitions for those who feel that they are not ready for World Cups or need practice beforehand.

I placed 19th, which for me was a disappointing result. I fenced ok in the pools and should have finished in the top 16 at least. At the end of this analysis I have included two bouting exercises that I think will help improve my fencing in some of the areas I identified as an issue in this competition.

Day 1- Pools
5-1 victory over Bell, DEN
5-4 victory over Bunyatova, AZE
5-3 defeat against Acar, TUR
5-2 victory over Incekara, TUR
5-4 defeat against Cheung, SIN

Technical Analysis:
Need to finish attacks properly and move off engarde line earlier.
When I lose hits in defence it is because I am unbalanced and too far away.

Felt rested and was fired up at the start but I lot focus during the pools.

Day 2- Round of 32
15-13 defeat against Lee, SIN

Technical Analysis:
Did not feel that I could trust my attack and its length.
Still not close enough in defence to stop an attack.
I was not fired up at all. I was trying to relax too much and ended up focusing on technique and not pushing myself. In the end it resulted in me hesitating in going for hits.

Technically- I need to start earlier off the engarde line and improve the length of my attack. In defence I need to work on being closer to getting someone to finish their attack.
Mentally- I need to be able to trust my offensive actions. I need to learn when to fire up as in the past I have been more about relaxing.
Exercises to practice:
-Every hit in a 5 touch match is different
-You have to get four hits in a row to win the match.
To finish this post, I would like to add to each blog a handy hint for travel and what my favourite thing has been so far.
Handy hint: Use a filter bottle. If you are unsure about water quality this will allow you to drink tap water. I use a Bobble bottle which are easily purchased at major supermarkets.
Favourite thing so far: The fact that there was Doner kebab everywhere in Istanbul. Of course my favourite thing is food :)
My next post should be in a couple of weeks about coaching at Junior World Cup, stay tuned!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Welcome to 2015! and travelling as an elite athlete take 2

Hi All,

I have decided to continue writing the blog that I started last year when I was overseas training and competing in Europe. Whilst I will be going into post competition analyses and the details of what competing and training at a world level entails this year will be a bit different for a few reasons.

First of all, this year I will also be coaching one of my students, Helen Phillips, at a Junior World Cup in Dourdan, France. I hope to be able to write a blog on what it is like coaching at this level as well as competing. This is also an entirely new experience for me.

Secondly, I will be finishing my trip in Abu Dhabi as a candidate sitting for the FIE Refereeing Sabre examination held before the Asian Cadet and Junior Championships in March. This will be followed by me undertaking my epee observation test to become an FIE B referee by refereeing the Asian Cadet competition. I will be writing a post based on my experiences sitting both the exam and the observation test, which I hope will help to give other Australians thinking of following a refereeing pathway an idea of what is required to be qualified as an FIE referee.

Thirdly, a lot has changed throughout 2014. When I returned from my last trip in March I came home to no job, moving out of home, and two and half weeks later my father was in hospital. At the start of this year I am in a much better place financially, with a home to come back too and with a lot more experience about dealing with grief. I am also coming off the back of my best every fencing season, having just won my third national title in a row and completing a clean sweep of the national competitions this year.

What this means is that this year I am more prepared than before and will be able to offer you as readers more insights into travelling, training, competing, coaching, and refereeing. My first post will be a post competition analysis for my satellite competition in Istanbul, Turkey.

Enjoy :)

Sam Auty

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Final Post for 2013/2014 World Cup Season- Conclusions on What I Have Learnt

Hi All,
This post is basically a conclusion to my trip. It summarises all that I have learnt fencing wise as well as some general travel tips that I have found to be the most important on this trip. A lot of the fencing learning summary is sabre specific but I have also included a summary on what I have found to be the advantages of teams competitions at the World Cup level now that I have competed in one for the first time. Enjoy reading and if any of you feel that I should make the information in this blog available in another form or continue to blog throughout the national season please message me and let me know. This is meant as a tool for other fencers as well as a forum for me as fencer so we can help each other to our competitive goals.

  • Pack less, wash more. Having lighter luggage is easier on you when you have to move around.
  • If it's possible pre-book transport to and from the airport (it's cheaper!)
  • Staying in the official hotel for the competition is handy but there is nearly always a cheaper one nearby. Stay there and catch the bus to venue from the official hotel.
  • Stealing lunch and snacks from breakfast buffet's is easy.
  • Check whether your hotel charges a city tax per night in cash. Otherwise you may have an unexpected 10euro to pay when you check out.
  • Fencers are being carded for starting before 'allez'
  • Fencers are being told to fix their hair covering target an penalised for it.
  • Attack from the engarde line start with the feet, but if you do not finish with the hand properly or pull it back in anyway you will be caught with an attack in preparation if your opponent has a better arm action. In this way the difference between an attack and preparation is defined by the action of the arm.
  • A large step with hand movement is an attack no. This is called internationally and yet hardly ever recognised as the end of an attack in Australia.
  • Footwork needs to be more controlled. This can be done by using smaller steps and using the feet. What struck me the most about higher standards of footwork was how light the steps were, the use of the feet to control the movement of the legs was key to this.
  • Balance in defence A defensive stance must be in such a position that a fencer can change direction, counter attack, attack, or use blade contact. The defensive position overseas varies depending on the style of the fencers but their upper body is always still and they always have an excellent ability to change direction and accelerate backwards quickly.
  • HANDWORK IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. I feel that this is probably where I was most lacking technically. The ability to extend quickly in an attack is incredibly important as is the use of point attacks and quick attack on blade actions. Part of the problem with my blade work is that my weapon arm and shoulder is too stiff, relaxation of the shoulder and upper arm muscles is key so that the fingers and elbow extension can respond. This allows the fingers to control the action with maximum speed.
  • You must have confidence in your attacks. The knowledge that you can finish in the right timing and score against your opponent is crucial to this. I felt that I had less confidence in my attacks because I felt that they were technically deficient.
  • RELAX! Some people need to pump themselves up for me competing is all about relaxing and allowing myself to fence and move around the piste. When I'm nervous I mentally inhibit my fencing to actions close to the engarde lines and my arm and legs are too stiff to respond when they need too. Finding what mental cues and preparation works for you is crucial to competition performance. 
I as lucky enough to have two other Australians competing in Bolzano and so we were able to enter the teams competition. Unfortunately, now that women's sabre is a larger competition there is a 32 for teams, this means you have to win in the 32 to be able to fence an exhaustive teams competition from the 16 onwards. This has led to the perception that because Australia has a low ranking and teams competitions cost 400euro to enter it is not worth it, where if you lose in the 32 you will only fence one teams match. I have come to a different conclusion, and these are reasons why I would consider travelling and competing as team in the next World Cup season:
  • Travelling as a team is cheaper. Single rooms cost more than a triple room split between three (or two double rooms split between four). The same goes for taxis and competition entry.
  • You have more support. This includes simple things like when there are 3 flights of poules, if one person is fencing in the first and another in the third filming and supporting your team mate.
  • Even a finish in the 32 has an effect on the ranking of the team. Teams in the top 4 in the World have that ranking because they perform and COMPETE at every teams competition. Particularly in a smaller field like Women's Sabre competing in teams is worth it to move up just a couple of spots on the World Ranking. These were the benefits to the Australian women's Sabre team ranking after competing in one teams competition: We are now ahead of Singapore and Vietnam on the World Rankings. Usually if both these teams compete at Asian Senior Championships there are 9 teams overall. This means that 8 and 9 fence off to make the top 8. If both Singapore and Vietnam competed at Asian Seniors this year, Australia would therefore have a bye into the top 8. The Women's Sabre team has not made the top 8 for the past two years. Additionally, if there had been a team in another World Cup regardless of result Australia would also now be ahead of Japan on the Asia Zone rankings.
  • The importance of having a team in Asia Zone Championships is huge! This is the easiest way to get team ranking points and it's the reason we are ranked above GBR on world rankings.
With Women's Sabre getting bigger but still being a reasonably small competition fielding a team in World Cups is definitely worth it. It also makes the job the members of the AFT have to do at Asian Zone Champs and World Champs easier.

I hope you enjoyed reading! This is me signing out from Rome and about to fly home to Melbourne :)