Introduction: How to Disengage in Fencing

In this Instructable, I will explain how to execute a disengage in fencing. The disengage is when you avoid the opponent's attempted contact with your blade by going under their blade.

In this Instructable, I'll assume that the reader has a basic knowledge of fencing. I also will assume the fencer is using a weapon with a pistol grip.

Step 1: Muscle Control

In order to make a disengage, you must relax your deltoid muscles. If they are tight, your disengage will be sloppy. In order to relax them, try to pull your shoulder blades down your back. They will naturally relax.

Next, engage your rotator cuff. You can do this by keeping your elbow in towards your body.

Deltoid image credit: Wikipedia user Nikai

Rotator cuff image credit: A.D.A.M.

Step 2: Drop the Tip

A correct disengage is made from your fingers, not your wrist or your arm. Make sure your fingers aren't tensed, but you should still be holding the weapon firmly.

When you see your opponent begin to parry, relax your ring and little finger. The tip of the weapon will automatically drop.

Step 3: Raise the Tip

Once the opponent's blade has passed over yours, squeeze upwards with your index finger and thumb to bring your tip back up. This is the disengage.

Step 4: Distance

Depending on the distance, a disengage can be easy or impossible. If you are at lunge distance with your opponent, a disengage should be relatively easy. If you start your lunge slowly, you will have plenty of time to react appropriately to an incoming parry. But if you are at extension distance, you will probably be unable to make a disengage.

Through practice, you will become good at judging the distance.

Step 5: Timing, Practice, and Feinting

The timing of a disengage also varies based on the speed at which the opponent moves their blade. It also changes depending on whether their parry is lateral or circular. It's important to practice against lots of different opponents using lots of different parries.

In a correct disengage, the tip of the weapon moves as little as possible. If you practice a lot, making sure to make all movements with your fingers and not your wrist, you will soon have a great disengage.

It is important to remember that a good opponent will rarely attempt to parry unless they have a good reason. In order to draw out a parry, one must make a feint. A feint is a fake attack. You aren't trying to hit with it (nor should you), but it should look threatening. Once the opponent tries to parry what they think is an attack, you can make a disengage and be free to hit them.