Many swordfighting enthusiasts find that after a few classes they begin to be able to spot the difference between a newer swordsman and a more experienced one. Mostly what you’re seeing there is the footwork: the fluidity of their movements, the speed and grace with which they end up where they’re aiming to be.
Of course, when my first fencing coach (more than thirty years ago now!) explained this to me, I was tempted to brush it aside – particularly when she insisted that I go through a load of footwork drills before I actually got to hit anyone with a sword! She was right, though, and I’ve always been grateful to her: those drills laid the foundation for my whole career, and learning how to move in such a fluid, graceful way early on has saved me countless injuries.
Footwork is as important to a swordfighter as form is to a weightlifter, and developing good footwork skills will improve your swordsmanship immeasurably. You’ll move more confidently, strike with more power, and look more impressive while doing it.
It also doesn’t take that long: I usually see noticeable results in all my students by the end of the first class, and within the first month almost everyone displays a very clear improvement to their ability to move.