Archive for Tim Morehouse

Exceptionally Answered Questions : on Fencing

Posted in 10 Questions, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2015 by Combative Corner

Over the years we’ve had the privilege to interview countless athletes, fighters and teachers.  At the CombativeCorner we love to not just ask the about “the story” (what got them to where they are), but the probing questions that will more likely resonate with the student looking to find a method/style/philosophy/etc that can bring their game or area of expertise to the next level.  To read the full interview from whence the question was pulled, click on their hyper-linked name.

The Princess Bride Duel 001Regarding the art of FENCING (Sport, Classical, or Combative) here are some of the exceptional answers from our 10 Question Interviews.

What was your biggest challenge when you first started?

My first semester of fencing I actually got a C! I had a hard time focusing and paying attention for long periods of time when I was younger so fencing really helped me to improve my focus an discipline, but focusing was also my biggest challenge at the start.

Tim Morehouse

What goes through your mind before you begin a bout?

I’m thinking about what action I’m about to execute and also telling myself to “come to my baseline” mental place. I always want to be fencing from a familiar and strong mental place. Never get too high and never get too low.

Tim Morehouse

In teaching students, what are some of the core principles that you try to instill?

Firstly control. With weapons you need control before you can progress. Control is mostly about mind-set I think – learning to respect the weapon, your capabilities and be respectful of the training partners. Next is how to move – the students generally don’t realise they are being taught this, because they think they are learning techniques of attack and defence. For the first few months though what they are really learning is a new way of moving their bodies. In everyday life we just don’t move our bodies in these ways. At first even strong and fit students exhaust themselves in an hour class because they just aren’t moving right. Learning to move is all about efficiency of course and once a person knows how to move with a given weapon then they only use a fraction of the energy to do things that used to exhaust them. Once a person has learned control and how to move, then they really effectively start to learn about attack and defence, time, distance, judgement, line and the other basic themes of fencing.

Matt Easton

What is your current view on the way they teach (modern/sport) fencing today?

I actually have a lot of respect for modern sport fencing and I think it has some very well-established and effective teaching methods. Some of how we train historical fencing is taken directly from sport fencing. What I have criticised about sport fencing are some of the rules and some of the equipment – I think it has led to a sport that is further and further removed from swordsmanship and therefore is less and less like what most people actually want to do when they start fencing. A huge proportion of historical fencers are former sport-fencers who started because they wanted to learn how to use a sword – some people do both historical and sport fencing, and the two need not be exclusive. I myself did sport fencing for many years and would recommend any child to do it as a basis for historical fencing. In the future I expect that historical fencing will become more like sport fencing in its attitudes to professionalism, teaching and athletic excellence. I certainly hope that historical fencing will learn from some of the mistakes of sport fencing though and not repeat them.

Matt Easton

What weapon appeals to you the most and why?
Foil, sabre then epee in that order. It’s like watching three different movies. They’re all exciting but each brings different feelings to you. The structure of the foil fencing allows you to set up and have resolution in the most powerful way.  Sabre feels like playing cat and mouse with me being the cat.  Epee is like dancing: structured with only three rules that, if you follow them,  you can win the Olympics.  Of course when I was young in the Soviet Union, girls only had the choice of foil.

Julia Richey

Students often have a hard time understanding the difference (besides the grip being used).   If we are talking about aspects (other than the gripping of the weapon) what philosophical, strategic or postural differences does the foil fencer exhibit?

I think that the definition of the classical fencer by Maître Louis Rondelle answers this question the best;

“The Classical Fencer. –  A classical fencer is supposed to be one who observes a fine position, whose attacks are fully developed, whose hits are marvelously accurate, his parries firm and ripostes executed with precision.

One must not forget that this regularity is not possible unless the adversary is a party to it. It is then a conventional bout, which consists of parries, attacks, and returns, all rhyming together.”

In contrast to:

“The Blunderer. – Is a fencer who strives to hit his adversary by all means, fair or foul, without preparation or opposition. His arm drawn back of its position, he advances or retreats without necessity, effects a tension on any attack, attempts to execute time-thrusts on simple attacks, beats the blade and changes the engagement without motive.”

The prime directive in fencing is always defense. If there is no defense it is not fencing. Some may repeat the tired old adage “The best defense is a good offense” but that is not necessarily true. This is because the mentality of the real fencer is centered on self-preservation. The premise in all fencing is to touch without being touched. It does a fencer no good to theoretically kill his adversary as he himself is killed in the process.

Maestro Ramon Martinez

As a masterful fencer yourself, is it hard to contend against a student or challenger (in a bout) using their natural gifts (i.e. athleticism, speed) or even scoring touches in a wild, uncalculating manner?

My obligation as a teacher is to guide the student; not to contend with them. When students are first introduced to the assault in our school, they are only allowed to fence against the master or provost. This is to ensure that the student is given precise responses that he recognizes. These academic assaults have specific rules. The student is the designated attacker. This allows them to use any of the various attacks they have learned. If they are successful, then the master will attack and the fencer cannot step back until he has parried and reposted. As a teacher my job is to give the students tools to overcome their weakness and to build upon their natural attributes. I use the assault as another means by which I polish the skills of my students. As they build their confidence and become more skillful they are allowed to fence with others.

Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

Why are pronated attacks (such as those from tierce, seconde and quinte) and parries so prevalent in the French Small-sword? As Evangelista once wrote “Pronation will invariably generate muscular parries. That’s why the French style, by and large, avoids pronation in its delivery?

The French small-sword fencer seeks to control the adversary’s blade by proper placement and leverage, not muscular strength. The pronated positions allow for strong beats, froissements, croises as one is using the same edge as one uses for the same techniques in quarte. That said, there are actually more supinated attacks and parries used in French small-sword. The use of sixte instead of tierce did not become common until the second half of the 19th century. Even then, most masters did not discard tierce. Correct training will allow the student to develop proper parries without generating a lot of force. In fact to develop sentiment du fer (tactile sensitivity with the blade) one cannot be heavy handed.

Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

LOOKING FORWARD

10 QUESTIONS WITH SAMIR “THE SANDMAN” SEIF

AS WELL AS…(A RETURN TO)

ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSIONS

 

10 Questions with Tim Morehouse

Posted in 10 Questions, Fencing, Fighters, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by Combative Corner

Tim Morehouse is an Olympic Silver medalist in fencing (Beijing Games 2008) and a National Champion (2010, Atlanta, GA).  He has achieved a lot since getting graduating from Brandeis University including: Masters degree in Education, the number one ranked US Men’s Saber Fencer (2009-2010) steadily climbing the ranks to within the top 15 in the world.  The CombativeCorner has been eager to learn about this guy, and luckily we did.  Look to find all in his upcoming book, due out in Spring 2012.  Click on the image above to visit his website.

How did you know you wanted to be a fencer?

I didn’t! I didn’t even know what fencing was when I first went to the tryouts at my middle school, but it was one of the few options for being on a team at my school, so I went to check it out and fell in love!

What was your biggest challenge when you first started?

My first semester of fencing I actually got a C! I had a hard time focusing and paying attention for long periods of time when I was younger so fencing really helped me to improve my focus an discipline, but focusing was also my biggest challenge at the start.

What is your favorite weapon and why?

Saber. I have fenced it since I was 14. I started in foil, but I always use to look over at the people practicing saber and wanted to do that one instead so I made the switch to saber. It if fast, dynamic and a lot of fun.

What is the greatest thrill of your career thusfar?

Winning Olympic Silver Medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics, my National Championship in 2010 and becoming a first team all-American in 2000 while representing my school Brandeis University

What athlete has inspired you the most and why?

Jackie Robinson was a big inspiration for me. I wrote a book report on him when I was in 4th grade and the character he showed helping to overcome the color barrier in Major League Baseball was unbelievable. He faced so many challenges and overcame all of them.

What is your favorite film to watch (that has fencing) and what about it makes it your favorite?

The favorite fencing thing I’ve watched is the Modern American family fencing episode and it is HILLARIOUS! The son on the show is a dominating epee fencer at his club and his family is so proud, but he wants to retire before the gold since he has to fence a girl…I don’t want to give away the whole episode! They just did the whole episode so well, had me dying of laughter!

What would Tim Morehouse have become (you think) had fencing not been a part of your life?

I’m not sure. I really enjoy acting and have done a lot of classes in high school and was missing one credit to be a theater minor in college. I was never able to do any plays because fencing always took priority.

What goes through your mind before you begin a bout?

I’m thinking about what action I’m about to execute and also telling myself to “come to my baseline” mental place. I always want to be fencing from a familiar and strong mental place. Never get too high and never get too low.

What ritualistic, superstitious, or mental preparation do you do pre-competition? In other words, how do you get prepared?

The night before I like to relax and watch TV shows. On long trips, I’ll usually bring a season of something. I also will write notes to myself the night before about things I want to make sure I do the next day when I compete. I have a very regimented warm up routine involving mental and physical warm up as well. Not too many superstitions.

What passions does Tim Morehouse have off the strip?

I enjoy doing things that are challenging and that help people. I was a teacher for 3 years with Teach For America and worked another 4 years on staff training teachers to work in inner-city schools so I would say that education is my biggest passion. I also enjoy blogging, doing a bit of stand-up comedy every once in a while, meeting great new people and planning events.

Bonus Question:

If Tim Morehouse was a superhero, what power would he have and what weapon (if any) would he have and why?

The power to help people believe in themselves more. (including myself!) I think you can link back most successes to having confidence and belief in what you’re doing. Imagine what kind of world we could live in, if more people pursued their passions and ideas 100% and weren’t afraid to play it safe.

%d bloggers like this: