You walk up to a girl, your shoulders slumped, and you mumble something in the hopes that she might like you. What will be her most likely response? She will think you’re creepy and ignore you. Why? You’ve communicated to her–through your body language, the way you’re speaking, and the idiot things you’re saying–that you’re a loser.
Fencing works in exactly the same way. When you enter a venue–the next NAC would be a great opportunity, but even a local club event might do–take a look around at the competitors in the room. You should be able to identify, without seeing them fence or reading their names, the ones who appear to be the “stronger” fencers. You will notice the people in the room who are communicating confidence. You will also notice the people who appear to be losers.
How do champions walk into a competition? Do they slouch? Do they mumble when they speak? Do they act as though they are looking for approval? Do they have trouble making eye-contact?
They walk in like an alpha-dog. They are alert, they are attentive, and they are absolutely not fidgety.
What’s extremely important to understand is that their opponents (and the referees, in fact), like the cute girl, recognize this–often subconsciously. What happens when an opponent reads your positive body language? He sees you as a threat. If the opponent is psychologically weak, he may very likely even “roll over”, doing your work for you. If the opponent is psychologically strong (and the majority aren’t), he will still very likely fence you far more cautiously then he otherwise would have. These are EXACTLY the kinds of psychological reactions you want from an opponent.
The superior fencer wants to communicate that he’s superior before he’s even warmed up.
An extremely important thing to understand: signals of confidence (walking with good posture, projecting when you speak, smiling when you speak, making eye-contact, etc.) have NOTHING to do with actual competence. If you are a mediocre fencer, you should still be trying to develop these habits, because they are self-fulfilling. Even if your fencing technique hasn’t improved, you will feel more confident and your opponents will have the reactions I noted above. Your results will then begin to improve (they will, obviously, improve considerably more if, at the same time, you’re developing your fencing technique). Fencing is, more than anything, a psychological game. You should, therefore, be developing your psychological tools.
While you’re at it, you’ll become a lot better at talking to girls.