Some thoughts on biomechanics

TL:DR - fencing is not all about maximum force generation.

Biomechanics, or body mechanics as I call them for no apparent reason, are simply about understanding how your body moves and how this movement can be used to generate force. To summarise to my level of understanding, certain ways of moving can generate more force than others which lead to guidelines for improving your understanding of historical fencing, these include:

  1. Righthanded blows will be stronger than blows from your left
  2. Cutting using just the wrist will be weaker than cutting from the shoulder
  3. Stepping increases the force behind most blows
  4. Cutting with the false edge can break the transmission of force and therefore often makes for a weaker cut
These are useful guidelines to help understand the "why" of specific techniques or overall philosophies of specific treatises.

However, they only form a component of understanding why an action might be "optimal" in a given situation. To crudely summarise there are three components to achieving a reasonable understanding of the "why" of a technique, these are:

  1. Body mechanics
  2. Measure
  3. Time
This will cover:
  1. how you can generate force in that situation
  2. how your opponent can generate force in that situation
  3. what distance you are from your opponent
  4. what time you need to put the above together in a way that will strike your opponent
So, righthanded blows might be stronger than lefthand blows and thus "optimal" biomechanically, but if you don't have an opening on your opponents to that side that is sub-optimal overall. Likewise stepping might increase the force and thus be considered more "optimal"biomechanically but if you are close measure where the step isn't required to reach your opponent and your opponent is likely to take that time to close the opening, then the "optimal" situation is actually to not step.

However, within a given context of your opponents body mechanics, your measure and the time available wihtin that you would want to try and develop the most biomechanically sounds, i.e. forceful, a response you could. 


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