As one advances in fencing they naturally learn new tactics with greater complexity. After mastering the basic attack and defense moves it is necessary to develop new skills to compete with higher end opponents. The coup is a move that appears to be simple and easy to learn but can create distinct advantages in the game or cause one to lose points if not quickly executed.
The Coupe in fencing is also known as the cut over as the blade is pushed up and over the opponent’s blade with the use of the wrist. The fingers are primary because pulling back on the blade at any time loses the right of way and allows the opponent to place an attack. The Coupe is an indirect tactic and a proficient move for advanced players. Much practice will be needed to do this well at lightning speed.
According to a master fencer Capo Ferro in 1610 the cut over must be a single fluid motion. It is a risky tactic due to the blade moving out of line creating a level of exposure for the attacker. When the game is heated and there are constant counter attacks the tactic even takes on greater risks because it is difficult to know what and when your opponent will make his/her move. The opponent may simply attack while the blade is in the process of a cut over making it more difficult for the originator to counter.
The move changes the line of attack that can have a positive impact on adjusting the nature of the attack and defense strategies. Someone may us this if an opening is found on the other side of the opponent’s body and the player wishes to combine it with a thrust. The coupe is rarely used without the thrust, as it would not be of much benefit simply to move the blade from one side to the other.
All attacks have only four different blade actions, which include the thrust, disengagement, counter disengagement and the cut over. One might consider this movement when it is hard to make it past the opponent’s defenses in the current line of attack. By using, a quick cut over it may offer enough of an opening to make a quick strike.
You may be interested in reading a printed book on fencing. Lessons in Foil Fencing