1. The Grip
There are many grips advocated by different masters and manuals. I prefer to wrap my index finger around the quillon while my thumb applies opposing pressure. The remaining fingers only provide directional control. Below is a picture sequence of the grip I use. I would recommend using only one type of grip until you master it. Elsewise you will know many grips but understand none. This rule applies to the other subjects on this page, be it stance or guard.
Other Grips
These are other types of grips. I suggest choosing one and getting comfortable with it. Try not to spend too much time switching from one to another. I find that mobility is impeeded when there are two fingers in the quillons, that there is too much force used in the punch grip and that you lose point control using the conventional grip. Choose the one that best suits your own style
2. The Stance

There is one accepted stance in fencing. This is a variation of an L-Stance. What this means is that you start with your heels together, with your front foot to the back of the left foot. Now slide your right foot forward to about shoulder-width. Keep your weight distributed so that you can advance and retreat at equal time. You may notice that my stance is a bit wide. This is because of my previous experience in other martial arts. I am much more balanced and quicker in this stance than the traditional one. As well, my rear heel tends to be kept off the ground. Like I have said and will say many times, you must first learn the form and then make it yours.The stance is so structured so that your retreat and advance will not be impeded by your left foot. So...if you can advance quickly then you are ok, if not then change it. I would also recommend keeping your right foot pointed directly ahead. This is because your body tends to move in the direction your knees face.
This is me in an uncharacteristically short stance. This is my usual long stance with most of my weight forward.
3. The Guard
Ask three people what a good guard is and you will get six answers. Every position has its own inherent weaknesses and strengths. Some have fewer than others. That may be so, but you also need to choose a guard that works for you. The following are some examples of common guards.
Guards continued on next page