PAN AM Modern Pentathlon Footwork

pan am modern pentathlon          The pentathlon has always had an intentional military story-line.  The ancient Olympic combination of five sports mirrored their current-day battlefield experiences and techniques. The athletes were soldiers who trained in discus, javelin, long jump, running–in-armour and wrestling. Each sport, with its unique footwork, prepared them in strength and agility for the wars they fought on the ground.  Long ago, the pentathlon winner was celebrated as “the winner of all the games.”

The modern pentathlon – with its five new sports – also has a military tale to tell. A liaison officer was once sent by Napoleon into enemy territory to deliver a message.  This military courier’s horse was shot down; he needed to defend himself with his sword and his pistol. He swam across a raging river and finally – heroically – arrived at his destination by foot.  The disciplines of horsemanship, fencing, shooting, swimming and running reflect this reconstructed battle. Rife with symbolism, the pentathlon embodies pursuit and escape, facing and defying danger.  The significance of ‘feet crossing the finish line to deliver the message’ does just that.

Footnote:  The requirements of war continue to change; the cavalry now rides in tanks. Sport no longer plays a key role in training. Nor do battle experiences inspire combinations of sports for competition.  And yet, the pentathlon models and inspires the modern-day military.  Idealism in soldiering has been revived. The pentathlon’s inherent demands of courage, co-ordination, physical fitness, self-discipline and flexibility in ever-changing circumstances frame a mindset for military leadership training on contemporary battlefields. (1)

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Resources: (1)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)


PAN AM Fencing Footwork

pan am fencing      A fencer’s footwork during a bout with his opponent determines his advantage.  Whether advancing or retreating, he changes the speed and tempo of the contest with his feet.  His every move has a countermove. Good strategy requires that fencers recover from and make good use of any maneuver.  Fencers crisscross the floor laterally and linearly just as they crisscross blades. All footwork coordinates with blade work; there may be two or three blade actions per move. Fencers are so well-trained; their fluid, efficient, and instantaneous footwork becomes second nature.

On Guard!  

Stance:  When ready to attack, the feet form an L-shape.  The front foot points at opponent; the back foot is perpendicular with heels touching.  When defending, the feet are in identically reverse position. The fencer can deceive his opponent by having feet in the offensive stance and then twist his upper body into a defensive position.

Advance:  The attacking foot moves forward so that its heel replaces the toe’s position.  The knee of leading leg is over the toe. Feet are shoulder width apart. Body weight is evenly balanced over feet.

Retreat:  Feeling with the toe, the hind heel lifts slightly reaching backward and landing slightly upon the toe and ball before planting the heel of the foot. The forward foot toe then lifts and reverses a foot-length, landing softly on the heel.   Feeling with the toe produces an even flow and sure footing.

Lunge: Simultaneously, the attacking toe lifts and pulls the attacking heel slightly off of the floor, moving slightly forward in a kicking motion.  Propelling with his rear leg, the fencer lands with his attacking knee bent directly over his toe.

[These footwork descriptions are simple, out of necessity.  To give you a sense of how much more detailed the fencer’s footwork is, consider the names of Lunge variations:

  • Assisted Lunge
  • Breaking Lunge
  • Jump Lunge
  • Advance Lunge
  • Retreat Lunge
  • Front Foot Withdrawal Lunge
  • Front Foot Withdrawal Reverse Lunge
  • Advance Crossover Lunge
  • Retreat Crossover Lunge
  • Advance Check Step Lunge
  • Retreat Check Step Lunge.]

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Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)