Guide to Exam Success

Essential Guide to passing BAF Coaching Examinations
Preparing to Succeed

The Long Step from Level 3 to Level 4

One of the main reasons for difficulty at the Advanced levels is a failure to appreciate the enormous leap that is needed between L3 and L4. 

Levels 1 – 3
It is important to appreciate that there is a different philosophy to our first three levels than the next two — hence the more than symbolic separation between these two groups at our Denstone Courses.  In many ways, these first levels constitute the basic skill training of the coach.  They are carefully designed to fit together between the levels and weapons.  A coach who has achieved Level 3 in all three weapons would basically be a competent club coach, able to introduce and train fencers in all the basic technical skills of fencing.  At this level exam candidates are supported by the examiners and in the initial levels very much given the benefit of the doubt.  It should be possible to prepare for these levels by coaching in any club, with the occasional attendance on weekend and residential courses.

Levels 4 -5
At this point, it all becomes a very different game.  Candidates at this level are expected to have thoroughly mastered the skills covered in Levels 1 – 3.  They should, additionally, have complete command of the Key Points for all the strokes and have started to have some basic awareness of coaching tactics.  All these subjects are exhaustively covered for all three weapons in our Academy publications (Key Teaching Points, Key Coaching Points, Teaching and Coaching Tactics) so there is no excuse for not being familiar with them.

These levels are focused entirely on the skill of coaching the competitive fencer, so some experience of competitive fencing, either as a fencer or a coach (preferably both) is also to be expected.

Examiners are expected to be far more demanding at this level and far less tolerant of shortcomings, and any training on residential courses will reflect this.   Examiners will expect to see high standards in the following:

Technical: The candidate’s own personal performance should show proficiency in the execution of all fencing actions (see below for more details)

Blade presentation: During offensive actions, defensive actions and preparatory actions, the candidate’s blade presentation should show a high degree of consistency and accuracy. 

Timing:  The candidate should have a great understanding and appreciation of the timing and cadence of any action relative to its application. The candidate is also expected to have the ability to control and manage the pupil’s timing of actions.

Distance: The candidate should have a great understanding and appreciation of distance and how it may change the time and execution of an action. The candidate is also expected to have the ability to control and manage the pupil’s distance during these actions.

Additionally: The candidate must show the ability to set, control and manage various conditions when coaching one or more stokes under one or more emphases.

Technical Skill – Please Note
The technical skill of a coach should be of such a high standard that is s/he:

 — Is able to execute to a high technical standard all fencing actions and combinations of actions under a wide variety of conditions.

 — Has the ability to repeatedly create the conditions necessary for a pupil to develop and improve their theoretical understanding, technical and tactical ability.

 — Is able to control and manage each or any combination of the following:

– Technique
– Timing
– Distance
– Tactics
– Rhythm / changes of cadence
– Continuity hitting
– Fight conditions/situations
– Simple, and or compound reactions

Further to this, the candidate is expected to show a thorough understanding of:
– The theory, geometry, application and practice of all fencing strokes and combinations thereof.
– How strokes technically and tactically relate to one another.
– The rules and regulations used for competition and how they are applied.
= How to teach and coach.

(For further information concerning the standard required candidates are urged to consult the “Explanation of the Marking Sheet” for the Advanced and Diploma exams which is available on the Documentation CD- ROM and by following the links on the left)

The Diploma level exam does not include a test of the candidate’s ability to run a class lesson.  However, since it is expected that a coach of this level should be able to lead class lessons as a matter of course, no candidate will be permitted to submit themselves for a Diploma exam until she or he has passed the Class Lesson element of at least one Advanced examination.

Our Advanced and Diploma levels are internationally recognised qualifications and  they should represent the very highest levels of coaching skill in the world.  While they only represent the beginning of the hard work, they should constitute a grasp of the basic skills of any coach who aspires to stand alongside the best on the world stage of competitive coaching.  
It will be clear from the above that none of this can be achieved without a serious commitment to hard work and training both before and during any course.  Any potential candidate is urged to seek out regular help from a qualified fencing master.  We are very happy to offer advice and help with this — please contact our Course Officer for assistance.

The documents below give a detailed explanation of the marking of BAF exams.

Marksheet (Level 2 & 3)Download (pdf)
Marksheet (Level 4)Download (pdf)
Marksheet (Level 5)Download (pdf)