Breaking Down the Film: 2013 Junior Olympic Cadet Men’s Epee Gold Medal Bout—Feihong Rodell vs. Justin Yoo

Period 1: Rodell comes off the line aggressively working his tip on Yoo. Rodell gets perhaps a little bit too close in his preparations and Yoo capitalizes with a deep low line lunge and last second disengage. 1-0 Yoo.

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Yoo begins the second touch by drawing Rodell away from the middle of the strip towards his side. Rodell prepares with a simple back-forward-back-forward movement, allowing Yoo to choose the moment where Rodell is coming forward and attack right into his advance. Yoo misses the first temp and seizes the blade in preme to close the attack. 2-0 Yoo. More simple back-forward movement, and Yoo widens the distance just a hair to allow more distance to launch his attack. Once again a miss of the first temp, and a seizing of the blade in preme but he is has just passed Rodell. No touch. Another deep lunge, but this time it is into Rodell’s retreat, allowing Rodell to sneak in a counter-attack and double out. 3-1 Yoo. Rodell responds with his first single light of the bout: an explosive lunge that Yoo tries to counter with a counter-flick over the top of Rodell’s wrist: a signature move of the LAIFC. But Rodell is too deep and it’s a single.

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Yoo tries to quickly attack Rodell three seconds into the sequence, but Rodell’s forte is strong blade work, strong parries. He catches Yoo with another single light in a parry-riposte in 8 to tie the bout at 3-3. Somewhere in the background, I am heard yelling like a robotic squeezy doll “Come on Fei, let’s go Fei.” Fei gets a quick advance lunge on Yoo’s half advance to take the 4-3 lead, but Yoo fights back with a signature fleche with remise in preme just as he goes by. I suggest a call for a challenge to Clinton’s coach, Robert Suchorski (like an idiot), the touch is reviewed, and Yoo gets it. 4-4. Yoo pulls Rodell to his end of the strip, and once again times his attack into Rodell’s advance who he hits with another deadly low line lunge. 5-4 Yoo. Rodell seems to change the tempo all of a sudden to more passive feet, perhaps in response to Yoo’s attacks into his prep coming forward. Now watch this attack! Sweeping 8 to get Yoo to chase his blade, and a long, explosive, athletic advance lunge for a single light. 5-5. Pretty. Rodell decides to continue with smaller feet and decides it’s a safe bet to bait Yoo’s attack for a strong parry-riposte in 8 once again. 6-5 Rodell. Rodell takes it back to his end of the strip again, and Yoo goes in for his attack with remise in preme. Just for a brief moment, Yoo turns to look at the lights…

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And when he turns back to Rodell, Rodell is ready with the single light riposte. 7-5 Rodell. On a scale of “1 to holy crap you’re fast,” Yoo responds with a “holy crap you’re fast” lunge and catches Rodell standing straight up. If you are more impressed than Michela with this touch, you’re not the only one. Yoo gets so deep in the lunge that with his arm parallel to the ground, it is literally about 15-18 inches off the ground. Wow. Single light for Yoo.

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7-6 Rodell. The period ends.

Period 2: Small, and I mean really tiny steps from Rodell to start the 2nd period. Out comes Yoo’s attack which Rodell tries to take in 8. As Yoo comes up in his signature preme, Rodell manages to sneak in a counter on Yoo’s wrist. 8-6 Rodell. More small steps from Rodell, but he launches an attack from just too far out of distance and is met with Yoo’s preme. 8-7 Rodell.

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This is where Yoo begins to understand the timing of Rodell’s attacks a little more. Just as Rodell begins to prepare his long advance lunge, Yoo pops him for a single light before he can extend into his attack. 8-8. It won’t be the last time you see Yoo’s impeccable timing into Rodell’s attacks. Rodell responds with a smaller, more gradually accelerated advance lunge with his tip around Yoo’s bellguard and he manages a single light as Yoo picks his hand up to parry. 9-8 Rodell. Annnnnndd again. Rodell puts his arm out in preparation. Yoo searches for a flick in preparation, but Rodell’s tip is around his guard and Rodell gets a single light counter. 10-8. In one of the more pretty touches from Rodell in this bout, he draws Yoo in to his 2 meter zone, does a small press on the inside to bait the parry, than accelerates with a lunge and a flick under Yoo’s wrist as Yoo’s arm goes up to parry.

 Rodell6

A quick lunge off the line and Yoo is unprepared. 12-8 Rodell. Four touch deficit, and Yoo is like “NO PROBLEM THIS IS MY NINJA LONG LUNGE FOOT TOUCH! BOOM! That lunge’s speed, distance covered, and ability to sink low is quite incredible and will go a long way in his career. 9-12.

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Rodell pulls Yoo out, seems surprised that he is able to take a simple 6 riposte and he gets a single light. 13-9. More active feet for Rodell this time, and he once again comes out with a beautiful long attack and picks Yoo’s wrist as he closes. 14-10. There’s still a fight to be had here.

 Rodell8

Yoo just says “F it.” Launches an attack and gets a last second remise before he goes off the strip. 14-10. Rodell, jumpy and eager to win perhaps fleches a little bit too far out of distance and Yoo squats down with a counter. Single light, 14-11.

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Yoo is intent on staying to the short targets. Flicks to the top of Rodell’s hand in prep to bait the 6, then goes inside for the 4 for a single light. 14-12. Rodell launches his signature explosive advance-lunge, and catches Yoo standing up with his hand up. Single light, and bout. 15-12 Rodell.

Overall: This bout was fenced in a matter of 314 seconds. A total of 27 touches were scored, with 2 of them coming on doubles for a total of 25 individual halts. Each touch took roughly 12.56 seconds to score—more on the quick side for an epee bout. Rodell was able to seize this victory by capitalizing on Yoo’s larger parries and closing him out with a last second disengage when the arm was picked up high. Rodell’s defense was also overwhelming. On almost all actions where Rodell baited Yoo’s attack, he was able to get a parry-riposte (mostly in 8) almost every time.

Yoo seemed to have his greatest effect against Rodell when he engaged him with a remise in preme. This strategy was abandoned after the first period, but seemed consistently effective. Had Yoo used his deep ninja lunge more to Rodell’s short targets, this bout might have had a different outcome. Both of these kids have more years left in cadet. I look forward to more matches from two excellent fencers.

To read more of the “Breaking Down the Film” series, click here.

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