“Just keep distance.” Coach Dan followed his command by stepping forward (lift the front toes, push from the back leg, front heel like a plow), Rune responding by stepping back (lift the back leg, push back with the front). Forward, forward, back, forward.
Stop. “Check your distance.” In response, Rune lunged, was swiftly parried by his coach. “No, don’t attack, just check distance.” He tapped his blade on the top of Rune’s mask.
Rune recovered his stance, his eyes glaring behind his mask. “How?”
Coach Dan tapped his blade against Rune’s. “You’re too close. When you see blades cross like this, you either attack, or get the flip out of the way.”
“But I did attack.”
“En garde.” Coach Dan’s no more discussion voice. “All I want you to do is keep distance.” Back, forward, forward, back, forward, forward, back, back. Stop. “Check distance.”
Rune extended his arm, demonstrating the tip of his foil was several inches from his coach’s. “Good?”
“Do an advance – lunge.” At his coach’s command, Rune pulled his arm back, took a step forward, then pushed from his left leg as his right arm came forward, propelling his foil towards his coach.
The lunge stopped inches short of its target. “Have to stay in advance-lunge distance. If you’re too far away, your opponent’s got no reason to be afraid of anything you do.” Tapped his right shoulder with his left hand. “Focus on your target, use that as your only gauge of distance. Watch the blade peripherally.” Crouched down, raised his palms and brought them down, Rune crouching. “Again.”
Forward, forward, back, back, forward, back, back, forward, forward, forward, back, forward, back, back. Stop. “Check your distance.”
Rune glanced at the tip of his foil. An inch away from his coach’s. “Good?”
“Advance – lunge.” Rune stepped forward, pushed with his left leg — a quick parry — “What goes first?”