Sports psychologist Andrzej Wojcikiewicz found several ways to use the Silva techniques in fencing competition. He even helped athletes learn how to use their intuition to figure out in advance what their competitors had in mind so that they could be prepared for it.
Wojcikiewicz is a highly respected sports psychologist and coach who already had a lot of experience both in fencing and in sports psychology when he first encountered the Silva Systems. He was the national Olympic coach in fencing in Denmark from 1972 to 1977. In 1978 he became the coach of the Canadian national fencing team. He earned a Master of Science degree in sports psychology from the University of Ottawa in Canada in 1984. Five years later, he attended the basic Silva course.
He was so impressed with the potential for the Silva Method in sports that he attended Silva Instructor training, and in 1990 he taught the techniques to most of the national team fencers, as well as key national coaches.
“First of all, this had an extremely strong impact on the team harmony and team skill levels,” Wojcikiewicz said. “This was probably a major factor in the success of the Canadian sabre and epee [two types of fencing foils] teams in the 1991 World Fencing Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and the success of the epee team in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
“We used visualization, expectation and all the rest,” Wojcikiewicz said. “But during the match, the Three Fingers Technique was the most frequently used technique. We used it to help us relax and also to get more adrenaline going, to get into the fighting spirit.”
Wojcikiewicz said the team used the visualization technique to train in technical skills as well as to program the outcome of competitions. For intuition, they called upon a special technique that is taught in the Basic Lecture Series. This technique allows you to experience what another person is experiencing by imagining that you are putting their head over your own, as though you were putting on a helmet.
“This was used by some fencers before unusually difficult bouts in order to instinctively plan the correct strategy for the fencing match,” Wojcikiewicz explained. “One fencer imagined putting on the head of a world champion before a match, got the feeling, took off the helmet’ and then fenced the match with a great success.”
The Canadian team, which had been ranked only 12th in the world, rose rapidly through the rankings and finished far better than expected in the Olympic Games the following year. The year after they finished the Silva Method, they rose from 12th place to sixth place. They went to the Olympic games in Barcelona and came within one touch of the medal round.
Reprinted with permission from the book Think and Grow Fit: Mental Training for Fitness and Sports by Jose Silva with Ed Bernd Jr.