Epees, Foils, En Garde! Oh My!

There is such an austere beauty in fencing. It’s about position, movement, strategy and flow. Once the fencing masks are on, it is difficult to distinguish one fencer from the other. With the exception of how well you move, everyone starts out the same, looks the same and seemingly moves the same.

VIVA Virtual Assistants Blog

Fencer (left) in the lunge.

Maybe I’ve watched too many Errol Flynn/Zorro movies, British period pieces via Masterpiece Theatre or maybe it’s in my blood via Spanish ancestry, but I’ve always had a fascination with fencing! So great has been my interest that from an early age I would visualize myself in a sword fighting scene, my heart racing, my feet moving quickly, sword extended, En Garde! Fast forward many, many, many (okay that’s enough) years later, I’ve taken six lessons to date since March. It has been awesome!

Each week, as I go through the process of warming up, stretching, listening to instructions and learning how to stand, thrust and lunge I can’t help but think about my business. Standing face to face with your opponent, you salute. Epee up (parallel to your nose), down with a *swoosh* (yes, it really makes a *swoosh*…very cool).

The French term synonymous with fencing or indeed sword fighting in general means “On your guard”. You may know your opponent exceptionally well or not, it doesn’t matter as you must always be on your guard. Will they advance (the aggressive position) once, twice or three times, while also throwing in a retreat (stepping away, which allows you to advance) to lull you into a false sense of security? You have to be aware of their movements and ready to be just out of their reach when they decide to thrust and lunge. If contact is made, points are scored.

Maintaining your position is critical and difficult. You must stand with one foot directly in front of you and the other perpendicular to it about a step and a half behind. Knees bent, left arm behind you, right arm with elbow tucked in, thumb in the 12 o’clock position, the epee held in a firm yet delicate grasp. This is the En Garde. If your feet are too far apart, you will not be able to hold your stance, become tired, you will lose balance and not able to retreat quickly and fluidly, opening the way for points to be scored by your opponent.

While I think that it would have been wonderful to learn to fence when I was younger, I realize after a few lessons that I listen to instructions better, understand how the symmetry of the foot, knee, elbow, hand and nose aide in the graceful movements required. There is a deeper understanding of the why of positions, etc, and a greater appreciation for this beautiful sport. My years of experience help me understand first and as a result move better, even against much younger opponents.

Are you aware of your business climate, clients and competitors? Are you En Garde!?

What is your position in your market? Are you able to easily fill or meet a need?

What has your lifelong experience taught you? Do you apply what you know and learn each day in your business?

Think about your answers and the comments I hope you will post :) . In the meantime, here is A timeline of fencing for your enjoyment.

Salute *swoosh, swoosh*


  1. Wonderful analogy, and congrats on your new blog, Ivonne! Not sure I’m ever going to face off against you with a mask; here’s hoping we’re on the same side attacking together! Or, is that “en garding” together?

    • I.Vazquez says:

      Hi, Jayme.

      Thank you. I really enjoy my new hobby and it would all be in fun; we’d always on the same side! I find it fascinating how our personal/outside activities are analogous to self-employment and small business. Thanks for your comment!

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