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Robert
-6th November 2003, 12:04
The Sword arrived this morning and includes a few short items at the back about 'Classic Foil' from Ted Nye and John Harding (as well as a similar item in the book reviews).

What are people's opinions on this. Is classic fencing just a harking back to outmoded ideas or does it have something to offer.

Robert

Gav
-6th November 2003, 13:05
In my heart of hearts I think this should be true;


Everything in its place, modern and classical fencing could and should exist?

However that's not what I put down. Instead I put in for burying 'classical fencing'. "Why?" I hear you ask.

Well. 'Classical Fencing' would be fine except for these reasons:

It's proponents seem to believe in some mythical golden age when "everything was ok/perfect/better".
It's proponents do not believe in evolution or change. No change = stagnation - and that is a combination that I extremely dislike.
It's proponents support the idea that classical is somehow better.
It's proponents seem unable to grasp that there is a difference between the real [fencing] world and the one which resides in their minds.
Because of the above classical fencers seem to think that they can tell me that they are better and that I should fence, "Like so..."
The vast majority classical fencers that I have met are socially retarded imbeciles. (There are exceptions to this last point but they are so rare that I might even class them as a different species - archaelogical fencers)
Classical Fencing promotes just about every cliche that I despise about Fencing.

reposte
-6th November 2003, 13:33
I think that only a few people have a right to lament the passing of classic foil.
The golden age of it ended round mid eighties, where the start of the migration to the modern style began.
A very few people know and have witnessed, let alone fenced in the true classical style and were any good at it, that are still
around, and in shape enough to experience the modern fencing from practicing it.
I dare say that although the occasional grudge is universal in the world of fencing, THIS forum seems to be particularly
concerned with the issue, perhaps a British dislike to reform or in a worst case: Dilettantism. Go and practice, don't write so much...
When you want to shoot shoot, don't talk!

Gav
-6th November 2003, 13:40
Actually reposte, I find that posters on Fencing.net can be as concerned with this issue as the people here.

Marcos
-6th November 2003, 14:12
Originally posted by Gav
Actually reposte, I find that posters on Fencing.net can be as concerned with this issue as the people here.

and not as polite with it

agree with Gav's points earlier

I'd say "classic foil", whatever that is, is dead, 6ft under, and nothing will revive it to the heady days where 5 people cared about it.

the youth of today, brought up on playstations and adrenaline, would look for a sport that is exciting, fast, tactical, and emotion-filled...something the modern game reaches, as those who are exposed to it can testify.

you don't attract people to a sport in large numbers by talking about the values that classical fencing espouses - which depending on who you talk to, can sound like something from a strange fetishist cult

Boo Boo
-6th November 2003, 14:38
Doesn't bother me what people do, providing I don't have to do it and people with such beliefs don't referee me ("his arm was dead straight first, he gets the point"....?!?).

I don't like it if "claasical fencing" is sold as how fencing should be: the sport has progressed and evolved. Classical fencing should always be "packaged" as what it is - something completely different from modern/sport fencing.

Wish that the Sword had more "human interest" articles and less "history" (well done PM1 - great article :) ) - although haven't read it all yet...

Live and let live,
Boo

SoulTripper
-6th November 2003, 16:08
I took up fencing because of the idea that it was a tic-tac sport. The export foilists battle in a lengthy beat-riposte game for a potential infinity. The greater the fencers, the longer it took to get a hit (kinda like Tai-Chi in action) i.e. The classic duel

I won't lie, I was disappointed when I saw my first major fencing bouts. The quick flurry of moves and absence of blades. The Young Sherlock Holmes dream didn't live to it's expectations!

However, it's a dog-eat-dog world. With fencing not being a profitable sport, it becomes more of a hobbyist sport. There aren't the classic schools where you fence 5 times a week, 7 hours a day, where you live and breath. It's 'evolved' to defeating the opponent with a style that is universal and quick to learn e.g. Flick hits - quick, fast and not in classic fencing techniques, Broken time attacks - what do ya do?. An admired move by the young and new and certainly deadly if done well.

Classical fencing is a performance, a masterly choreographed dance that is as realisable as communism.

Boo Boo
-6th November 2003, 16:40
Soultripper, have you looked at the following sites? Might be more what you are looking for...:
- http://www.theduellist.co.uk
- http://www.ahfi.org/ (US, though...)

Boo

Gav
-6th November 2003, 16:46
I have take issue with one part of your post there SoulTripper.


However, it's a dog-eat-dog world. With fencing not being a profitable sport, it becomes more of a hobbyist sport. There aren't the classic schools where you fence 5 times a week, 7 hours a day, where you live and breath.

This is only true in the UK. There are plenty of places abroad where you can fence in the manner described. If I remember correctly Sabine described just such a club. Have a search and see if you can locate the post.

Additionally there are plenty of proffessional teams abroad - just not in the UK [and other places]. It is this drive for proffessionalism [driven by results] which has resulted in the weapons being the weapons they are today.

Re: long blade conversations

The majority of the period during which these long conversations took place was actually the [predominantly] amateur period.

SoulTripper
-6th November 2003, 16:47
Thanks Boo for the links.

I forgot to mention, that whilst initially disappointed, I have come to love fencing for what it was, is and will be. Hell, I want to be able to flick hit more than anything (E. European blood in my ya see)!

SoulTripper
-6th November 2003, 16:50
Originally posted by Gav
I have take issue with one part of your post there SoulTripper.


This is only true in the UK.


Sorry Gav, I was thinking about the history in England and forgot to say. Totally agree with you.

Shame hey?

Pointy stick
-6th November 2003, 16:56
Now I can sympathise with that. I imagine that most people who enter the sport with no prior knowledge of it do so with some romantic idea of slashing swordplay, cut and thrust, and also a certain 'elegance' and finesse. It's surprising how many people 'know' (believe) that fencers kiss the hilt as part of the salute, for example.

I had my first few lessons in steam foil, learning (at a most basic level) some sort of classical style. Then I went to a competition, and watched the electric with its furious, formless rushing and whipping (as it appeared to me then) and I hated it.

Months later I find myself gradually assimilating the ideas of electric fencing which (I perceive) are: footwork, distance and timing rule above all else; most of the classic parry positions are redundant; usually, you fence with absence of blade; phrases are shorter, with simpler compound attacks; the flick hit is only one tool in the box, and doesn't dominate in the way that I'd worried that it might.

Then, full of my new found skills and 'understanding', I got involved in a couple of steam fights and got mightily perforated. I was fighting someone who had the DIFFERENT skills and timing needed to use the lighter and more balanced steam foil.

Conclusion: steam and electric are two different games, as different as tennis and squash, or bowls and bowling, or kayaking and canoeing. The similarities are there, but the differences are significant.

And my feeling (and it's no more than that) is that there is a place for the classical approach in steam fencing, and it's fun, and it offers a different sort of tactical challenge; but classical style and electric won't work together all that well.

That said, the principles behind classic fencing shouldn't be forgotten, just because the application of those principles has moved on. You still need to make good clean parries, no bigger than necessary; you still need a good stance which you can use as a basis for moving and launching attacks, or defending yourself; you still need good point control. Charlie Parker learned his scales.

sparkymark567
-6th November 2003, 17:32
Originally posted by Gav
In my heart of hearts I think this should be true;



However that's not what I put down. Instead I put in for burying 'classical fencing'. "Why?" I hear you ask.

Well. 'Classical Fencing' would be fine except for these reasons:
[list]
It's proponents seem to believe in some mythical golden age when "everything was ok/perfect/better".
It's proponents do not believe in evolution or change. No change = stagnation - and that is a combination that I extremely dislike.


Agreed, if you want to change the sport of foil (and I mean sport rather than the classical art of dueling) then make it better, i.e. take it foward and not backwards. One reason why fencing doesn't make a good spectator sport is because it's too boring; so what's really needed is something to make it more exciting.

sparkymark567
-6th November 2003, 17:33
oops, there's a lesson never dabble with code tags that you don't fully understand.

reposte
-6th November 2003, 17:48
Actually reposte, I find that posters on Fencing.net can be as concerned with this issue as the people here

I have to tell you Gav, that I was taking artistic liberties; I don't surf other fencing forums, one's quite enough and beyond.
I prefer practicing nowadays, I find it more helpful...

Flicking isn't the issue as well. As previous postings mentioned, the sport has evolved.
The flick coupe is here to stay merely because defences are used today that weren't in use in the days of the French grip,
and it is nearly impossible, even for the greatest of classic fencers to penetrate arm first a series of modern defences without
capitalizing on the larger hit area that is available for a coupe with a pistol grip, not o mention a back flick.

Muso440
-6th November 2003, 18:26
Originally posted by Gav

Classical Fencing promotes just about every cliche that I despise about Fencing.


What are those cliches, out of interest?

Robert
-6th November 2003, 18:53
I agree with most of what Gav said but it would be nice to think that there is room for a 'classical' foil society alongside modern fencing.

Robert

srb
-6th November 2003, 18:56
Originally posted by Robert
The Sword arrived this morning and includes a few short items at the back about 'Classic Foil' from Ted Nye and John Harding (as well as a similar item in the book reviews).

What are people's opinions on this. Is classic fencing just a harking back to outmoded ideas or does it have something to offer.

Robert

I've just read the article. I would describe myself as a fairly classical fencer, but what a load of drivel. How to destroy the sport completely save a few old die hards, and turn a highly competitive sport into a hobby.

Welcome back the real world.

srb

Marcos
-6th November 2003, 19:34
Originally posted by Robert
I agree with most of what Gav said but it would be nice to think that there is room for a 'classical' foil society alongside modern fencing.

Robert

nope,
:chair:
sometimes the liberals just have to step aside - I say no to inclusiveness

haggis
-6th November 2003, 19:42
Originally posted by Robert
I agree with most of what Gav said but it would be nice to think that there is room for a 'classical' foil society alongside modern fencing.

Robert

I agree in part (which may surprise some). I have no problem with the existence of classical fencers, weirdy-beardy bunch though they may be. What I object to is the insistence by most classical fencers that sport fencing is inferior. Classical fencers are welcome to stand still, enjoying each other's elaborate blade actions so long as they don't offer any opinions on modern fencing which they generally despise. If you want to do classical fencing feel free to go and do it somewhere well away from the real action.

plewis66
-6th November 2003, 20:49
I haven't received the mag yet, and I have no idea of what is classic or modern fencing.

If a top class modern fencer faces off an equal class modern fencer, who would win?

I suspect the modern fencer would, because I'm guessing modern fencing is faster, has flexible and varied technique, and is focussed more on hitting the target.

I've voted 'there should be space for both', because, let's face it, people still 'fence' with broadswords, glaives and main gauche (though not often all at once!). Any attempt to revive an outmoded style and weapon (outmoded because the modern style/weapon scores more conistent victories) should be seen as re-enactment, not sport.

imho, of course.

Rdb811
-7th November 2003, 00:05
Originally posted by reposte

The golden age of it ended round mid eighties, where the start of the migration to the modern style began.



1880's that is - this what 'classical fencing' refers to. And not to be honest the sort of thing that find much favour on these shores. To be filed with 'Live Role Playing' .

Robert
-7th November 2003, 00:17
Originally posted by Rdb811
1880's that is - this what 'classical fencing' refers to. And not to be honest the sort of thing that find much favour on these shores. To be filed with 'Live Role Playing' .

ah yes, the glories of weapon w**nking.

I think when people say classical they mean less mobility, presence of blade, non-sword arm in the air, emphasis on form, steam presiding, and absolutely no flicks. Unfortunately Gav and others are probably right that coexistence depends on the classical people admitting the art, finesse, and skill involved in modern fencing.

I started the post because their seems to be a sea-change against modern fencing amongst many fencers. It might be just a flash in the pan but the last time a group of fencers got together to moan about 'modern' foil and make anachronistic claims about how it use to be, they invented epee.

Robert

Pointy stick
-7th November 2003, 06:42
Two things:

First, in most of the countries where fencing is a sport, nobody ever uses a sword for anything except sport fencing. The sword is no longer a weapon. To that extent, all fencing is anachronistic. If we took full note of 'modern developments' then we'd be using guns or knives.

Second, all the three weapons have conventions of some sort or another. Even in epee, there is the rule about simultaneous hits, and the maximum interval between two hits which count as 'simultaneous'. In foil and sabre, of course, the conventions are more obviously artificial.

So fencing is a stylised development of swordplay, loosely based on fencing from a fairly narrow period of 'real' swordplay, then developed almost beyond recognition in response to modern technology and modern attitudes. The moment we stopped trying to hurt each other, we moved away from any claims to realism.

From the above, it seems to me that it is perfectly valid to choose your own level of anachronism and convention. If someone wants to fight classical style, or even rapier and main gauche, then that is neither 'better' nor 'worse' than fighting modern electric foil/epee/sabre. It's just different.

So the modern electric foilist empasisies footwork and distance, the classical foilist emphasises finger play and blade position, the broadsword fighter needs physical strength, and so on. OK, so the electric fencer would typically beat the classical fencer. But how would he fare against a horseman with a lance? Modernity is not an inherent virtue, or guarantee of superiority.

And if the only deciding question is 'would the best classical fencer beat the best electric fencer?' and we chose our sport on the basis of the answer to that, we'd all be pistol shooting three nights a week.

plewis66
-7th November 2003, 07:27
Originally posted by Pointy stick
And if the only deciding question is 'would the best classical fencer beat the best electric fencer?' and we chose our sport on the basis of the answer to that, we'd all be pistol shooting three nights a week.

No we wouldn't.

So far, the foil is (perhaps arguably), the ultimate development of the technology and technique of swordplay. So it's the 'best' expression of swordplay. And it's swordplay that people who fence are interested in.

If we were interested in killing people, then yes, we'd all be walking round packed with nines. As are the people who still duel to this day.

The question: classic v modern, who wins? is directed at discovering the best style of swordplay, not the most efficient killing mechanism.

reposte
-7th November 2003, 09:25
1880's that is - this what 'classical fencing' refers to. And not to be honest the sort of thing that find much favour on these shores. To be filed with 'Live Role Playing'

I thought that you lot, like everyone, are moaning about what happened to fencing since the days of D'Oriola, Romankov etc.
I guess that's classical in the eyes of a citizen of a sixty year old country...
Seriously, that was what I thought you meant by classical foil fencing: From Nadi to Romankov through D'Oriola, Borella, Smirnov and so on. If you meant even farther back - to me Nadi's already too far gone because I can't vouch for footwork - than I'm on a different page then this thread...

Boo Boo
-7th November 2003, 09:27
No reposte, if you look at the links I posted on the first page of this thread (in particular, go to the American site), you will see what we mean by "classical foil/fencing" (1980s is very modern in comparison....)

Boo

Gav
-7th November 2003, 09:50
Originally posted by Muso440
What are those cliches, out of interest?

What are those cliches?


Fencing is an anachronistic [worthless?] sport.
That it practised by people in strange [i.e. period] outfits.
It's not a sport.
Only weirdy-beardy sorts take part.
Fencing is not modern in any way.
Fencing is all about swashbuckling [despite my fondness for Swashbucklers Hollywood has done a lot to propagate some really bad Fencing cliches].
Fencing is riddled with strange ceremony.

SoulTripper
-7th November 2003, 10:04
Originally posted by Gav
What are those cliches?

Only weirdy-beardy sorts take part.


What's that on your chin Gav? A sort of weirdy-beardy thing (goatee me-thinks)!

:rolleyes:

Gav
-7th November 2003, 10:11
Originally posted by SoulTripper
What's that on your chin Gav? A sort of weirdy-beardy thing (goatee me-thinks)!

:rolleyes:

Nothing weirdy about my beardy. :grin:

TAJ83
-7th November 2003, 11:00
Ok, I actually quite like the idea of 'classical' fencing. I freely admit that I am indeed a socially retarded imbecile, I do not, however, have a beard.

I should say though, that I do really like 'modern' fencing. There is a lot more to it than classical. I think that they are different sports, and that classical fencing doesn't really have a place in the modern sport. However, there is no reason why it cannot be persued separately.

pinkelephant
-7th November 2003, 12:19
I don't have a beard. Does that mean I can't fence classically?

SoulTripper
-7th November 2003, 12:50
You can just grab some newspaper and rub the print on your chin!

Rdb811
-7th November 2003, 12:52
Only if you wear a skirt and stand on a tea tray.

Dave Hillier
-7th November 2003, 12:56
Classical fencing sounds like quite a fun hobby (classical as in steam point in line foil). It is effectivly what a lot of club fencers do and are happy doing.

But that is treating fencing as a hobby not a sport which is an important difference.

Pointy stick
-9th November 2003, 09:15
Originally posted by plewis66
No we wouldn't.

So far, the foil is (perhaps arguably), the ultimate development of the technology and technique of swordplay. So it's the 'best' expression of swordplay...
The question: classic v modern, who wins? is directed at discovering the best style of swordplay, not the most efficient killing mechanism.

This is incredibly subjective.

Best style of sword play? A style where being hit on the arm or leg is a minor inconvenience? How arbitrary and stylised is that?

And modern electric foil is (as I keep being told) footwork, footwork, footwork. Quite simple attacks, timed 'just right'. Phrases which last only a second or two, if that.

Best style of swordplay? So sharpen a foil and fight someone with a broadsword, katana, epee, cutlass... Would you be confident?

Foil is one combination of weapon, skills and objectives. Make the foil 3 inches longer, or 3 inches shorter, change the size of the guard, make the piste wider or narrower, or amend the target area to include the bib, or the upper arms, or NOT to include below the hip bones... Countless small changes to the rules could make the game different, without being 'better'or 'worse'.

In this sense, the rules are arbitrary, in the same way that football would be the same but different if goals were half as wide, or there were 12 men in a team; or cricket would be the same but different if the pitch were 23 yards long. Chess would still be regarded as one of the top board games if it had been designed with a 9 x 9 board, or the bishops and rooks swapped places for the start.

If we really wanted to find the 'best' style of swordplay, surely we would have rules approximating to those of epee (whole body target area, and no right of way convention) and we would have no rules governing the length, weight or felxibility of weapons. Then fencers would have a free hand to evolve a weapon and style which was truly the 'best' against all comers.

Be that as it may, we all accept the conventions and rules of our sport, arbitrary or not. And once we accept that fencing is a sport governed by rules and conventions, there is room for everybody to choose a branch of the sport which suits his/her preferences. So, some fight electric foil, epee or sabre; others might prefer the different challenges and emphases of a more classical style; some might prefer Kendo, and so on.

Why criticise someone else's sport, just because we prefer ours? Is chess 'better' than go because there are more rules? Is squash 'better' than badminton because it is faster? Is Formula 1 'better'than WRC?

plewis66
-9th November 2003, 13:49
Ok, I'll ammend:

The question: classic v modern, who wins? is directed at discovering the best style of fencing with foil, not the most efficient killing mechanism.

Thay's what I really meant.

plewis66
-9th November 2003, 13:50
The question: classic v modern, who wins? is directed at discovering the most effective way of scoring points when fencing with foil, not the most efficient killing mechanism.

Robert
-9th November 2003, 15:20
Originally posted by plewis66
The question: classic v modern, who wins? is directed at discovering the most effective way of scoring points when fencing with foil, not the most efficient killing mechanism.

I think you have missed the point slightly. The answer to your question is obvious, the modern style is better at scoring points than the classical. What is really being discussed on the thread is 'classical' fencing in the sense of steam weapons, judges, and strict interpretation of extension precedes footwork, under which rules the classical style would be better at scoring points.

Robert

plewis66
-9th November 2003, 16:44
Hmm.

Fair enough.

But perhaps I'm just not expressing myself correctly.

One of the options on the vote is 'Bring it back'.

What I was tryig to say was, if modern is superior in the sense of scoring victories, then bringing it back is not an option. Who is going to be first to start losing, in order to begin the 'bring it back' movement?

plewis66
-9th November 2003, 16:52
Oops.

Sorry about the duplicates...bad connection problems. Can't even email the admin to ask for them to be removed at present.

Robert
-9th November 2003, 18:45
Originally posted by plewis66
Oops.

Sorry about the duplicates...bad connection problems. Can't even email the admin to ask for them to be removed at present.

Don't worry it seems to happen to everyone now and then.

The reason for a bring it back vote is that what you are bringing back is the format (line judges, steam weapons, strict PIL rule). In that format the modern style would be thrashed. This, I believe, is what people in the sword and other places are talking about when they say 'classical' fencing, the format not the style.

I would like to think there is room for both classical and modern fencing, but in a sense it would almost be like having a fourth weapon. But as Gav has pointed out in an earlier post there is a lot of baggage with 'classical' fencing, and that I am sure is why so many people have voted for better dead and buried.

Robert

Pointy stick
-9th November 2003, 20:06
When presiding electric bouts at our club, I've seen the light go on when I've not seen the hit at all. Strangely, I've also seen 'hits' bend the blade without registering on the box. It's clear that the two scoring systems would produce different results from the same bout/weapons/fencers. (Perhaps less so with a more experienced president than me!)

I don't think it's possible to judge flick hits at steam - or at least it would be very contentious.

The electric equipment was originally designed to make judging of hits more accurate; now the nature of the game has changed to meet the needs of the box. That doesn't change the fact that steam fencing was a challenging sport once, and it can still be a challenging sport now. It's just different.

If the tip had to be depressed for (say) half a second to register a hit, would the electric game 'evolve' back into something nearer to the steam game?

plewis66
-10th November 2003, 07:19
Originally posted by Robert
The reason for a bring it back vote is that what you are bringing back is the format (line judges, steam weapons, strict PIL rule). In that format the modern style would be thrashed. This, I believe, is what people in the sword and other places are talking about when they say 'classical' fencing, the format not the style.

Ah... now I see.

This confusion is then perhaps largely because I still haven't received The Sword.

I'll get my coat.

Rdb811
-10th November 2003, 11:39
Neither have I - although that is probably more dureto the postal strike.

jonny
-16th November 2003, 12:52
Personally I prefer electric fencing to steam fencing (sorry this term "classic" has confused me to whether we're talking steam or 1800's dueling). I think electric is a lot faster, more modern and more exciting.
But I do have one major beef with electric fencing, and it's the cost. I didn't go to a grammar school, my local club could only really afford two boxes, not to mention the fact that the lames and weapons are quite likely to break they're so fiddley.
I haven't got anything against fencing steam, I still do so regually (I now fence at the grammar school as well) but if you fence steam for years it makes it insanely difficult to start trying to compete!!

plewis66
-17th November 2003, 07:19
I have to agree about cost (going OT, sorry).

I was shocked to see the price of a scoring box and reels. Especially as the box contains about 37p worth of electronic components.

MatFink
-19th November 2003, 00:14
For anyone who has actually done classical fencing they will be aware that the focus is on style accuracy and technique. These things are still the core of modern fencing.

Anyway my actual point. The flick hit performed correctly is a classical action, and if the FIE bring in some of its new proposals. The modern whip hit will die, and only a correctly executed (classical) flick will still maintain enough contact time to register.

Good news for some, career ending for others.

Also we must remember that our sport survives because of the social fencers that pay their money so that the few may compete at a higher level. John Harding's club in Worcester provides a valuable balance in the city where the main club is very competition oriented.

It is however worth noting that two fencers from this 'classical club' easily won the counties novice foil event and are now looking to do more. So watch out those of little faith, if the FIE get their way the classical revolution may have begun.

gbm
-16th December 2003, 21:11
I would count myself as a fairly classical fencer. But I never fence competitive steam foil, and would not dream of doing so. I am classical in my approach to the task that is fencing, and which (should) boil down to two critical things:
Hit
And don't be hit.
And thus win.
Obviously this only applies to foil and sabre (and epee in a lesser extent).
Now my stereotypical modern fencer's approach to this is to see the victory as the goal. They may have an intensive training schedule where they practice fitness and reflexes, and learn all kinds of tricks such as flicking and fleching-and-spinning your sword around. They will use a pistol grip because its greater strength requires less understanding to use, and because it means they do not have to learn to deal with other people's strong arms (as a beginner). They may use sports psychology to help them, together with nutrient supplements and dietary help. They will focus on Speed. They will remain fit and healthy for 10-15 years then become too old and lose their speed.
My approach is how I see Classical fencing. I emphasise not the winning, but the improvement in my fencing, which will one day (hopefully!) lead to victory's for me. I do not do any form of training that is fencing related, and like modern fencers I do footwork, technique and the virtue I consider more important than any other, distance. I make sure my non-sword arm is up, as this maintains a proper en-garde angle (many people complain about how thin I am!). I use all the major en-garde positions, and use coupes, coules, and indirect attacks, including one-twos regularly. However, as I write this I realise that I need to do more beats, and more double's. I focus on technique, but not speed. Speed is not important to me, beyond the speed of a slow riposte by disengage, or a quite fast lunge. Timing is what I practice, although I have yet got a lot to learn. I am sticking to foil, until I am good at it, but I do not expect to be good at it for another 20 years, but then I would like to be good at it! I started fencing at the age of 13, and have seen many fencers beat me who have only been fencing for a few months, especially for the first three years. But I have stuck with it, and I am now starting to see real improvements in my technique.
Does this make me a social retard? Or just a fencer who thinks that there is still good in classical fencing training and techniques? I am sure that there are people who can argue that not holding up the en-garde arm is good, but why, when it maintains en-garde angle (and helps prevent flick hits by having good balance!), allows thrusting back of the arm for a tiny fraction extra momentum when lunging, and helps with the recovery? It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but so is going en-garde (do you remember aching legs that just wouldn't stay bent for more than 5 mins without collapsing?).

ceprab
-17th December 2003, 10:12
Originally posted by Dave Hillier
Classical fencing sounds like quite a fun hobby (classical as in steam point in line foil). It is effectivly what a lot of club fencers do and are happy doing.

But that is treating fencing as a hobby not a sport which is an important difference.

No reason in line steam foil can't be treated as a sport and have all the footwork and athleticism of electric foil......

Except that you need 5 capable referees for each fight, and as many threads on these boards go it is generally hard enough to find one :(

gbm
-17th December 2003, 10:15
I think that electronic scoring apparatus has freed up fencing as a technical innovation in the same way the invention of the mask several hundred years ago. You are much less likely to attack your friend with a fleche when they are not wearing their mask!!
Now all we need are mass-produced robotic referees with television replay and stripey shirts, who never get a call wrong!

Moose
-24th December 2003, 00:40
Is it possible to electrify classical foil without opening it up to scoring box exploits?

gbm
-24th December 2003, 11:06
The FIE seem to think so... let's hope their right...

oddball
-23rd January 2004, 07:58
classic foil is good for learning technique cos its so neat,but the refereeing is naff. its hard enough to find one ref who can decide hits electric let alone steam. useful ,because you have to make it obvious what you have done.
this isn't foil, but fencing pre-electric sabre is way more fun than electric, which seems to be all flickhits

oddball
-23rd January 2004, 07:59
ok, classic italian foil. thats funny!

The Little Un
-23rd January 2004, 11:08
Having originally fenced during the steam/classic era I am very pleased that the modern electric fencing syle is here to stay.
Classic fencing is ok for learners and for training, however it must never be used in true competitions. The fencers that like to fence classically from my experience are those that feel they can con the referees. All the rules on cheating in fighting originate from the classic style era, why? Because people always thought they could get away with it. Leave classic fencing where it belongs in the training room.

I have to say that sometimes I feel that I have made a hit but that it has not registered. The sad fact is that like other fencers the electric system is a better judge than I am myself.


Best wishes,
Judy

JohnL
-23rd January 2004, 13:51
It's interesting to listen to the discussion but I think there needs to be a clear distinction.

It has been said earlier that Romankov, Smirnov, Borella etc. were classical foilists.

Wholly untrue, they were fencers fencing to the rules of the time with the equipment specified. If any of these had been in their prime today, they would have been just as successful. They were fencers, nothing else. It seems that younger fencers (god, I feel old) think that they invented flick hits. Having been slapped with flick hits by Behr, Dal Zotto, Cerioni, Romankov, Smirnov, Robak, not to mention Bruniges, I can tell you that they've been around for a while.

Electric fencing came in mid 60's (?) and yes it changed the style of fencing. You just had to hit, not have the hit seen.

If you classify (Classical) fencing as steam fencing, it has not been taken seriously by athletes for almost 40 years. As such, classical fencing has been put on some moral pedestal be those who could not hack it as a developing sport. They will go the way of the dodo and I am suprised they still have a voice.

They say that the fencers of today would not succeed in a classical bout. Also untrue. The fencers of today are faster, fitter, and could adapt to the rules. Steam fencing should be banned before the so called moral crusaders corrupt any potential fencers.

Rdb811
-23rd January 2004, 14:47
This thread has been revived - much earlier on it was pointed out that 'classical' fencing usually refers to a cult (of mainly Americans) fencing in a 19th Century style, and not to steam / non flicker

A 'classical style' fencer in contrast merely seems to be one who doesn't flick

jonny
-23rd January 2004, 16:28
As for the "All steam bad" comment, I'd like to once again bring up the issue about the cost of electrics.

Pointy stick
-23rd January 2004, 17:42
Originally posted by JohnL
Steam fencing should be banned before the so called moral crusaders corrupt any potential fencers.

I soooo hope this is a deliberately ironic statement, but it isn't clear from context that you meant it to be.

JohnL
-23rd January 2004, 18:05
I don't know if it's ironic or not.

If Leon Paul stopped making steam foils, the practice of using them might die a death faster.

So much to the good

The Little Un
-23rd January 2004, 18:05
The only steam that get me going is on the lines such as the Severn Valley Railway.

Best wishes,
Judy

nahouw
-24th January 2004, 03:15
Originally posted by reposte

The golden age of it ended round mid eighties, where the start of the migration to the modern style began.
A very few people know and have witnessed, let alone fenced in the true classical style and were any good at it, that are still
around, and in shape enough to experience the modern fencing from practicing it.


Yes, I agree, that this is approximately when the dichotomy of classical and modern fencing occurred.....

But, then again, with this change, fencing has been continually threatened by the IOC for extinction from the Olympics; so has this been a good evolution????

Perhaps the IOC appreciates the style of the classical fencers??
Keep in mind, that all of the great fencers are remembered for being classical in style and not just the current day fad......

Let's wait and see for my article that I wrote for the FIE magazine to be published, and then we can discuss this further.

The Little Un
-24th January 2004, 12:06
I remember Daddy telling me about "The Beatles" being long haired gits and was not much better when he was taking about Cliff Richard and Elvis. He said look at classical singers such Mario Lanza and Gigli, they have been around for ever, The Beatles and Cliff will be forgotten within a couple of years. Well history speaks for itself, the great fencers of today will be the "Classic" fencers of the future.

Best wishes,
Judy

Rdb811
-24th January 2004, 15:41
Originally posted by JohnL
I don't know if it's ironic or not.

If Leon Paul stopped making steam foils, the practice of using them might die a death faster.

So much to the good

As indeed might the practise of introducing beginners to the sport - but I realise that economics isn't your strong point.

Pointy stick
-24th January 2004, 20:11
Originally posted by JohnL
I don't know if it's ironic or not.

If Leon Paul stopped making steam foils, the practice of using them might die a death faster. So much to the good

My reference to your possible irony was in relation to what you actually said, not your more general views on steam fencing. read this again:

<<Steam fencing should be banned before the so called moral crusaders corrupt any potential fencers.>

Someone who demands that something is banned because of its alleged tendency to corrupt is a "so called moral crusader" in my book. "Socrates must die because he is corrupting our young - by teaching them to question that which we take for granted."

You are following the thought patterns and using the language of the religious fundamentalist, or political idealogue. That is why I hoped you were being ironic, because the world is way too full of people who are certain that they alone know the true way to do something.

The Little Un
-24th January 2004, 21:55
Steam weapons are going to carry on being sold as they are used to much for practice and training, though personally I would not train myself with a steam weapon. If you have a group of say twenty novices, it goes without saying that in most clubs there will not be enough electric scoring equipment to go round.

However I must say that personally, I think using my foil to hold up the dwarf beans is the best thing to do with it....lol

Best wishes,
Judy

gbm
-24th January 2004, 22:29
By most people's definition of Classical Foil I am actually a modern foilist, I just didn't know it. Thinking about it, I think that I probably am. The only things I disagree with in modern fencing are the abuse of the rules regarding attacks (generally only in the mid-levels where I aspire to be), and the abuse of the box. I think that the USE of the box is good, we just haven't quite ironed out what older fencers call whip hits to target which isn't visible (and is clearly rediculous when considering a rigid weapon).
However, I do aspire to technique and tactics over speed and strength (when I say speed, I mean uncontrolled reflexes and sheer velocity as opposed to good actions and timing). These are the qualities that 'appear' to have been in the then 'modern' fencers of 50-100 years ago, where fencers reached were older than nowadays before reaching their peak, and thinking was more important than what looks like reflexes. Maybe it's this thought process which is apparently less present in the modern game that some people miss?
I do hold my non-sword are up, though, as I understand the reasons for it (it keeps me en-garde, helps lunges/recoveries, keeps it out of the way, maintains a narrow body angle).

The Little Un
-25th January 2004, 16:08
Dear Good etc,
If your foil is rigid, I must feel sorry for you. Mine is a whippy as a flickmaster. I suppose I am probably one of the classic fencers, having started before electric was used in most competitions.

Best wishes,
Judy

BenS
-9th February 2004, 06:14
Hello, I thought I’d add a bit of a different perspective to this discussion. I am a classical foilist, and by that I mean that I fence steam with my non-sword arm in the air, no flicks etc… I even use an Italian style grip with the wrist strap. Apparently I am a stereotypical weirdy-beardy, right down to the facial hair and citizenship. Pointy Stick, Robert and TAJ83 have already made several good points, but I hope I can contribute a bit more.

It is becoming quite clear that classical fencing and modern sport fencing have diverged to such a degree that any similarities that they may have are merely superficial. While they have some similar equipment and terminology and a vague visual kinship, their aims couldn’t be more different. While modern fencers are participating in a sport in which they attempt to score touches, all of the classical fencers that I know consider themselves to be pursuing a martial art, albeit one that has little obvious relevance in the modern world.

Comparing the two, while an interesting academic exercise, isn’t reasonable. It is like comparing a Farmer to a Florist. They both grow plants, use shovels, earth, and water, but judging the farmer’s potatoes by same criteria as used to judge the florist’s daisies would be ridiculous and vice-a-versa. In the same way, two equally trained and athletic fencers, one classic and the other modern cannot reasonably be evaluated. As I think was mentioned earlier, if they were judged by the modern standards, the classical foilist would lose, and if they were being judged in my Salle, the modern foilist would lose.

To say that one has a place in today’s world while the other doesn’t is likewise unreasonable. I have no problem with modern (sport) fencing, it appears to be an excellent, challenging and rewarding game, as evidenced by the passion it inspires in its advocates, but I have only a passing interest for it. Classical fencing, on the other hand, is something I can’t get enough of. I can understand a certain amount of rivalry because, for the most part, we draw from the same pool of interested parties, but to say that one or the other should be stamped out sounds like a dangerously close-minded view.

Going back to the original question, I think that sport fencing has three options. It could bill itself as more of an “Xtreme” sport, which are so en vogue these days. Or, it could go back towards its roots and try to identify itself more with actual swordplay, because at this point whenever I show video of modern fencing to the uninitiated, a quizzical look comes over their face and they say something to the effect of “That doesn’t look like sword fighting.” Or, it could simply stay the course and hope that things will work out, which would likely result in a continued decline.

Prometheus
-9th February 2004, 08:27
Originally posted by nahouw
But, then again, with this change, fencing has been continually threatened by the IOC for extinction from the Olympics; so has this been a good evolution????

Perhaps the IOC appreciates the style of the classical fencers??
Keep in mind, that all of the great fencers are remembered for being classical in style and not just the current day fad......

Let's wait and see for my article that I wrote for the FIE magazine to be published, and then we can discuss this further.

Rubbish.

Fencing in the Olympics is threatened because it doesn't make money for them - the assumption made is it is difficult to understand. esp foil.
Is classical fencing easy/easier to understand?? IMO, No. The only weapon that will ever be easy to understand is epee.

gbm
-9th February 2004, 19:26
At the risk of sounding a bit fanatical (I try my best not to be), here are my comments.

So where does this put me? I'm pretty rubbish at Fencing; I turn up to all my Welsh events, and the Welsh Open (and get my a** kicked out of the poules and then the plate in the first round, dammit), but I fence with a French grip, would never ever ever do a flick hit for reasons of realism, and believe that some thought in fencing is good. The problem is, I'm probably a bit of a middle ground between those extremist classicalists and those extremist 'modern' fencers, purely after hits.
But I don't think either group has a particularly good worldview.
Quite a while ago, my friend lent me first "The Art and Science of Fencing", and then "The Inner Game of Fencing", both by Nick Evangelista, who I understand is not entirely respected in some fencing circles.
At that time, these books appealed to me, especially the latter. Now I knew why I was losing! It wasn't because these were more experienced fencers, who had more practice than me, better technique and footwork. It was because they were doing things I wouldn't lower myself to (like flick hits) but was really a better fencer because I could 'think' better. (Note that the book explicitedly states the opposite of this, but it's easy to cast yourself into this view).
As you might understand, this filled me with hidden superiority, and had no effect on my fencing.
Now I think I understand a slightly more 'realistic' view. Basically, to a modern fencer, they are out to score hits and thus win. A classical fencer should be out to recreate a duel, which is best done by, oh lets see, scoring hits. As you say, "In Ferro Veritas" (The Sword is Truth). If somebody takes one and whips your a** with it, chances are they are a better fencer than you.
I have great sympathy and belief in the virtues of 'classical' fencing (has fencing really changed? Only evolved to greater realism in general I believe). While I learn to fence, I have long-term not short-term goals, and so am confidently expecting to be the world champion over 80's fencer. But at the end of the day, if I'm not winning anything, even against fencers who are relative beginners who I 'should' be beating, I'm doing something wrong.
I use electrics, because it is easier, and more realistic. I use French grips because I believe that they are eventually superior (although my faith in this does waver from time to time). People who cling onto steam foil for competitive fencing (which I use regularly as a practice weapon) remind me of the people who clung onto not using masks, which carried on for years and years however many years ago it was (17/18th C?). Masks free up fencing. Thus they make it faster, and allow a little less control, but this is more realistic! The box does the same thing.
In steam foil, actions must be precise and accurate to make sure the referee sees what happened. In real fencing, it doesn't matter how neat your action is once your opponent has been skewered! Electric fencing is a bit more like this, since less depends on seeing something.
Obviously, neatness does matter, and is indeed crucial, but only as a means to an end. At the end of the day, if you lose there are only a few possibilities.
1. The representation we have of a duel is flawed (I believe the only major unrealistic flaw in fencing is flick hits, but it doesn't stop me fencing electric).
2. You lose for technical reasons or because of mistakes by the president (not as common, at least at higher levels, as some people think?)
3. The most obvious one - your opponent is a better fencer! They may not be able to carry out actions to the fourth intention, but they must be better to beat you! I'm sure it would be a great consolation to your family, if this was a duel to the death, to know that you had a better "frame of mind", and only lost because you were devastatingly outclassed in terms of footwork and technique!
Incidentally, the winners of major championships are not the 'extreme' 'modern' fencers I mentioned earlier; if they were, they would not win. World champions win because there footwork and technique is impecable, and there thought processes second to none!

I'm not a converted foilist, I just think it is far too comfortable for these steam foilists who limit themselves so much by never truly challenging themselves, at least not at 'real' fencing, by which I explicitly do NOT mean electrics, but as close as possible to a duel, which is after all what fencing is - it's principles and conventions are not artificial in origin but are naturally self-arising from the mechanics of a fight.
This is what has diverged; modern fencing is continuing a trend back towards 'real' fencing. Steam fencing is taking steps backwards. (Un?)fortunately, fencing was forced off from the 'true' path (by which I mean realistic duelling) by the illegality of killing each other, but improvements in technology is steering it back, along with the FIE, who I completely understand and agree with.

I know the FIE are not terribly popular, but I do honestly believe they are the people who have an accurate view of fencing, and who are trying to improve it. Except for no off-targets at foil, which is just silly.

Wow! The above semi-rant is only 5269 characters long out of the permitted 10000!
Comments are, of course welcome. I'm no fencing master, I just have opinions, which are constantly evolving to meet the needs of new truths.

Also apologies to anybody who gets a headache or just starves to death while trying to read my immensely long post (maybe I could sell it as a book in Classical Fencing parts of America?)

Also I'd like to mention I too maintain a proper en-garde angle by use of the non-sword arm (amongst its other uses, of course).

Prometheus
-9th February 2004, 21:12
Goodbadandme.

As you approach your nirvana you will becoming increasingly aware that there are less differences than you previously perceived.

When a top modern foilist has a lesson they, as much as a classical fencer may hate to hear, have to advance the point first, maintain balance and posture during and after the action etc.

There are basic truths or fundamentals to all fencing, but as the comments display there are different interpretations of the aims of this activity.

Enjoy your journey of discovery - it is worth the effort I can assure you.

PS there are arguements against the classic en guarde position of the raised unarmed hand that modern physiologist have come up with to do with tension across the shoulders etc. Perhaps a more learned person than myself could tell you why. For myself I am happy to learn from the top fencers!

gbm
-10th February 2004, 11:29
I think I see what you mean, although I no longer get any tension across the shoulders, just people complaining when they can't hit me, so an explanation from a physiologist would be very welcome! I am here to learn, after all.

Jumpit
-11th February 2004, 17:02
My .02

Proponents of classical fencing seem to feel that the form and technique of the classical style is superior in some ways to the modern style. That it's better to start beginners in a pure classical style first, then allow them to modify to a more advanced style later.

I'm not so sure.

While I enjoy the cleanliness of the classical style, there are some problems with the main forms that I don't much care for, and believe to be fundamentally detrimental to beginners.

The rear arm up:
This has two negative aspects to the beginner. (1) It tends to promote non-level shoulders. The back shoulder tends to be higher than the front, causing the fencer to hunch forward. It doesn't have to... but it typically does. (2) Holding the rear arm up creates needless tension in the shoulders. Getting a student to relax the shoulders takes FOREVER. And relaxed shoulders is critical for point control and fluid blade movement. I feel the argument that the rear arm acts to counterbalance the lunge and recovery to be nonsense. I mean really. Your light little hand counterbalancing your big heavy body? No way. I don't buy it.

Narrow torso to reduce target area:
Seems ok in theory, but what does it do to the rest of the body? When the shoulders twist, the hip tends to twist with it. Which causes the front knee to turn in. Which causes the front foot to turn in. Bad bad bad. I teach newbies to keep their upper body 3/4th square to their oponnent. I find that I have far fewer knee/ foot corrections to make that way. If you're new to fencing and are having problems keeping your front foot/ knee straight, the problem probably lies in the angle your shoulders/ hips.

Full hand supination in parry 6:
This position is very un-natural to beginners. I think it promotes needless tension in the arm and hand. I fence full sup' because that was what I was taught, but I teach 3/4 to 4/5th supination because I believe it better for the beginner.

I think the fencers in the classical era didn't understand basic body kinnetics as the fencing world does now. To teach classic style is not so much a return to a form more pure, but a form more inherantly troublesome both to teach and to learn.

gbm
-11th February 2004, 22:14
Too late for me then. I've got the hang of it now, and don't do any of the mistakes you state, like turning in the knee or not relaxing the shoulders, so I don't see any problem with it for me now.
On the other hand I was practicing with somebody who had just been told by a coach to not bother with the hand up in the air, and was coming en-garde square-on. I agree 3/4 square is definitely a good position (if you mean 1/4 from facing sideways in the classical position), it doesn't give much less reach than the full 'classical' position, but makes you harder to hit (the upright stance of the arm definitely makes flick hits harder for poor flickers over the shoulder I reckon.
I do think beginners should be taught the 'theoretical best' first, whatever that is, and then more realism (like pronation parries, which are theoretically inferior in general to supination parries, which is why they're never used much, but they are still useful) added later?

Dalby
-12th February 2004, 19:54
I'm rather surprised by the confusion of steam with "classical" foil, and a number of writers' willingness to separate out "modern" "sport" fencing from classical fencing.

Let's straighten this out.

The source of the confusion has got to be that "modern" fencing doesn't work very well with steam recording equipment (i.e. four volunteers from the RNIB and a president [if I sound bitter, I've just spent a day nursing a hangover and presiding a steam tournament]), while a lot of "classical" partisans put on a lamé once a year and can't work out why their opponent's light keeps coming on.

Others have made the point that the top foilists in top level competition still use the basic, "classical" repertoire and build outward from there. I will add that at any level the discipline imposed by "classical" fencing can help in a bout and puts you in a better position to use a "modern" style movement if the opening suggests itself.

To my mind "classical" fencing that is not pitted against "modern" (or if the FIE have their way, "soon to be out of date") fencing in competitions is a sterile exercise in "re-enactment": right up there with dressing up as a Confederate soldier and spending a weekend in a damp field near Wolverhampton.

Another thing, can we have a definition of "classical" fencing, please. Because just holding your hand in the air, fencing in engagement and using a French grip won't make you a "classical" fencer. Classical fencing (I know I've missed off the inverted commas - it's deliberate) is about emphasis upon finger-work rather than wrist or elbow movements, footwork and tempo - in other words just the same things that sport fencing is about.

I'm also a bit confused by all the rot people are writing about the "reality" of fencing. Foil has always been a practice weapon and has always been fought in a distinct, artificial style - not at all like the duelling weapon, the epée (and this dates right back to the seveteenth century French Salles that introduced foil). The constraints the rules place on foil - the target area, rules of priority etc - heighten the artificiality and were intended to create a safe environment for people to practice sword-play away from the kicking, gouging and other foul play of the actual duel. All of which makes it a bit daft to bemoan the lack of Erroll Flynn-style swash & buckle in the modern game.
:bash:

gbm
-12th February 2004, 21:20
Something I agree with. I think that's a first about fencing (of course I am sometimes a little bit too belligerent for such a rubbish fencer...).
Apart from the bit about the artificiality of foil. I cannot possibly accept that, for the reason I don't like to accept it. :)
The conventions are all right, and the target area not including arms and legs, but maybe the sword arm and head should be target...
Hence the discussion about bibs in the last major set of rule changes (although it didn't get through...)

Dalby
-13th February 2004, 09:24
Originally posted by goodbadandme
maybe the sword arm and head should be target...
Hence the discussion about bibs in the last major set of rule changes (although it didn't get through...)

I can see a tenuous argument for including the bib in the target area - the area covered by the bib on modern masks was considered part of the target area (RH Colmore-Dunn writing in 1909 advises foilists to have jackets made with a very stiff high collar, as this is part of the target). But let's face it, lamé bibs & connectors and all the fuss & malarky associated with getting the kit to work just isn't worth the effort.

As for head & forearm - well, making forearm part of the target area would completely change foil, encouraging flick-hits to wrist & a more epée-like style - is that a route you'd really like to take?

Pointy stick
-13th February 2004, 15:28
I don't know much about sabre, but don't sabreurs manage with lame bibs and with masks which are connected by crocodile clips or similar?

I think the restricted target area of foil is what gives it its character - the challenge is to get all the way past your opponent's defences, and strike at the very heart. That's not easy (for me). By contrast, I imagine (never having tried it) that the challenge in epee is to avoid exposing any part of yourself to attack whilst trying to hit. I imagine a difference of emphasis there.

But my worry about making the bib part of the target area is that the superior point control of a skilled fencer might tempt him or her to aim specifically for this area to rough up and intimidate a beginner as a way of getting through the early rounds with minimal expenditure of energy. It might (in this scenario) widen the gap between ability levels, which might not be a good thing.

(On the other hand, it could encourage us beginners to practise parries more!)

Jumpit
-13th February 2004, 18:40
Yep. Sabre masks are conductive and are connected to the lame by a cord with a couple croc clips as you said.

One huge problem with covering a foil bib with lame material is that it effectively reduces the service life of the mask from a decade to a year* ... and increases the cost at the same time.

No thanks on the lame foil bib. I'll take the off target.

We shouldn't be pokin people in the throat anyway.


*(your milage may vary)

jonny
-13th February 2004, 18:42
Not that I'm really in favour of lame bibs (I think they're a bit pointless) but couldn't the lame jackets have a little bib strap that ties behind the neck or something?

Jumpit
-13th February 2004, 19:00
I don't see why not. I'd go with a snap rather than a tie, but the cords work pretty well.

I can see someone dropping their mask and accidently ripping the lame material if it were firmly attached. And that would definately be an unhappy moment when you accidently tore the back out of your lame jacket.

For this reason, I snap the body cord onto my white jacket clip (fish it out from under the lame) rather than my lame clip.

If the jacket clip tears out, I can switch to the lame clip and still fence. The reverse is not also true. You tear your lame clip off and that could easily mean the end of that tournament day...

gbm
-13th February 2004, 21:17
On further consideration, I think the FIE made all the right decisions when they had their rule changes (i.e. keeping off-targets and changing the target area). Making the forearm on target would change foil negatively.

DonnCarnage
-14th February 2004, 22:13
Originally posted by Gav
In my heart of hearts I think this should be true;



However that's not what I put down. Instead I put in for burying 'classical fencing'. "Why?" I hear you ask.

Well. 'Classical Fencing' would be fine except for these reasons:

It's proponents seem to believe in some mythical golden age when "everything was ok/perfect/better".
It's proponents do not believe in evolution or change. No change = stagnation - and that is a combination that I extremely dislike.
It's proponents support the idea that classical is somehow better.
It's proponents seem unable to grasp that there is a difference between the real [fencing] world and the one which resides in their minds.
Because of the above classical fencers seem to think that they can tell me that they are better and that I should fence, "Like so..."
The vast majority classical fencers that I have met are socially retarded imbeciles. (There are exceptions to this last point but they are so rare that I might even class them as a different species - archaelogical fencers)
Classical Fencing promotes just about every cliche that I despise about Fencing.


LOL exactly...

Unlucky in slough gav...

DC:pirate:

Gav
-16th February 2004, 09:03
Originally posted by DonnCarnage

Unlucky in slough gav...


Cheers. You should have come up and said hi.

DonnCarnage
-16th February 2004, 18:38
DOnt know if i said hi, but i certainly had the great privilage of shaking your hand...

DC:pirate:

oddball
-12th March 2004, 07:52
Hmmm, the expression 'suck up' comes to mind. Good strategy, not trying it!

Moose
-13th March 2004, 02:45
Originally posted by oddball
Hmmm, the expression 'suck up' comes to mind. Good strategy, not trying it!

Quiet you :tongue:

oddball
-16th March 2004, 16:23
Ok, Moose

yellowflecher
-12th April 2004, 20:49
Classical fencing is great for its purpose. Killing people and duelling.

But fencing isnt for that nowadays, now is a sport, more than martial art, so new tactics have arisen.

gbm
-12th April 2004, 20:59
Not a good thing, in my opinion. After all, martial artists don't regularly go around beating each other up, do they? Well, at least some of them don't...
I think fencing is unique in that it has the capability to be everything at once. It can be a sport, since athleticism is required. It can be a martial art, with the added advantage that you never have to 'pull' a punch (which allows more expressiveness?). And you also need to use your head a great deal. For example, a friend of mine who does martial arts sometimes gets too aggressive in fencing, which is just about the only time I beat him! It works a bit more in his other martial arts than it does in fencing, where precision is paramount.

Not that I'm saying the sport aspect is bad, it is a critical ingredient of the mix, just that the martial art aspect is overlooked a lot nowadays. Certainly it is an art, even if less 'martial' than some other.

Aoife
-11th May 2004, 14:28
Conclusion: steam and electric are two different games, as different as tennis and squash, or bowls and bowling, or kayaking and canoeing. The similarities are there, but the differences are significant.

I agree. I've always fenced steam, and when fencing electic in competetion I find moves being used I've never seen, people don't react the way I'd expect. I don't hate it, but I find it hard to consider it fencing (as I know it), because to me it seems more like scrappy stabbing and flicking. For instance, I've NEVER been able to bind in an electric match, because nobody stick their arm out to threaten. Just a bit odd really.

I wasn't taught in a fully classical style. I think my coach would have liked to, but understood nobody would bother to keep coming if all they did was footwork for a year. However, the technical side of my fencing is all classic (stance, grip, moves et cetera). I don't think there's anything at all wrong with it, exceot that it doesn't translate well when fencing people who've been taught on eletcrics. (which seems to be more of a 'get the point' than a 'do it well' style)

gbm
-11th May 2004, 14:39
Lots of the things you and I have probably been taught will not work anymore. Electric fencing has made fencing faster and stronger. This is good, but things like lunge-recover-reprise just aren't going to work anymore (generally), and the modern absence of blades (presumably caused by the lack of need to set up compound actions for the ref) means that things like binds are more difficult if possible, and pressures far less useful also. Generally, if you lunge and your opponent retreats, I think a fleche is the preferred method of following.
Beats are good. Learn beats and you can get a fair distance I suspect (I haven't got there yet!).
If you want to be at all competitive, you have to fence electric regularly. Steam is limited by unfortunate neccessities, just like fencing was limited before people invented masks.
Of course, you don't have to be competitive, and learning complex and nowadays generally impractical actions is still good practice.

And getting the point has always been more important than doing it well, especially with sharp swords! Just with steam there was an unfortunate neccessity to do it well in order for the referee to see it. Of course, even nowadays you still have to do it well, in fact exceptionally fast and accurately, in order to actually hit!

Electric fencing is less contrived than steam in many ways. I practice steam, but I only fence electric.

oddball
-14th May 2004, 19:14
I'm learning sabre at the moment - classically. My coach reconed it's better to learn it this way because if all else fails you have something to fall back on. The same with foil.

gbm
-14th May 2004, 20:38
A classicalist might argue that classical training teaches you the basics well - and to be honest what other way of training is there other than a modified classical approach?

PS I am now in the top 10 posters! And the only one of the top ten to have joined since May 2003! I joined in December 2003!

Rdb811
-14th May 2004, 23:14
Nothing like a good bit of tautology to get the post count up.

Sabre is either Hungarian or Italian - classical has nothing to do with it.

gbm
-15th May 2004, 08:18
As a non-sabreur, what's the difference?

Aoife
-15th May 2004, 16:08
If you want to be at all competitive, you have to fence electric regularly. Steam is limited by unfortunate neccessities, just like fencing was limited before people invented masks.

I am trying to be competitive (living in the arse-end-of-nowhere doesn't help) and have been to a few electric comps. Due to exams and finacial constraints that stuff's on the back-burner at the moment. Mostly I'm just trying to organise steam events between local clubs for our kids to try (they've only done one, but they're keen to do more soon).

I do want them to be able to practise with electrics one day, so they can find out what it's like (it's very hard trying to explain things like required pressure without actually having electric kit). The closest I can get is to show them a pair of electric kits, get them to practise setting them up, explain what happens in comps, what bits need plugging in where et cetera. I've also had to expalin a worrying amount of times that you don't actually get an electric shock when you get hit! :) Hopefully the proceedures won't now come as to much of a surprise the first time they fence electrically. (Lord knows every time I wire-up I go through a process of readjusting for the first few bouts! :) )

This is a large downside to classical fencing. (Not that we have no electrics because we fence classically... maybe the classical style comes through more because we have no electrics :shrug: )



I think a fleche is the preferred method of following.
Beats are good. Learn beats and you can get a fair distance I suspect (I haven't got there yet!).

I can manage beats as preperations and feints, but fleche is still a problem with me! I tend to do the 'half-retreat' fleche, or whatever it's called. That's what I've introduced my kids to as well, because they just don't have the leg power for a normal fleche yet. I'll graduate up to normal fleches once they've stopped just running forward and skewering their oponant :grin:

Rdb811
-16th May 2004, 15:26
Originally posted by goodbadandme
As a non-sabreur, what's the difference?

Hungarian style is taught as standard in this country - basic blade position i upwards - Italian has the blade nearer the horizontal - my old coach gve me a couple of lessons just before he had to satrt looking after his sister.

The problem is that it looks like you are coming on guard with the point almost in line (it's not, and I may have had it too low anyway) - don't know how it ould survive modern refereeing.

Neo
-16th May 2004, 22:32
Originally posted by Dalby
I'm rather surprised by the confusion of steam with "classical" foil, and a number of writers' willingness to separate out "modern" "sport" fencing from classical fencing.

Let's straighten this out.

The source of the confusion has got to be that "modern" fencing doesn't work very well with steam recording equipment (i.e. four volunteers from the RNIB and a president [if I sound bitter, I've just spent a day nursing a hangover and presiding a steam tournament]), while a lot of "classical" partisans put on a lamé once a year and can't work out why their opponent's light keeps coming on.

Others have made the point that the top foilists in top level competition still use the basic, "classical" repertoire and build outward from there. I will add that at any level the discipline imposed by "classical" fencing can help in a bout and puts you in a better position to use a "modern" style movement if the opening suggests itself.

To my mind "classical" fencing that is not pitted against "modern" (or if the FIE have their way, "soon to be out of date") fencing in competitions is a sterile exercise in "re-enactment": right up there with dressing up as a Confederate soldier and spending a weekend in a damp field near Wolverhampton.

Another thing, can we have a definition of "classical" fencing, please. Because just holding your hand in the air, fencing in engagement and using a French grip won't make you a "classical" fencer. Classical fencing (I know I've missed off the inverted commas - it's deliberate) is about emphasis upon finger-work rather than wrist or elbow movements, footwork and tempo - in other words just the same things that sport fencing is about.

I'm also a bit confused by all the rot people are writing about the "reality" of fencing. Foil has always been a practice weapon and has always been fought in a distinct, artificial style - not at all like the duelling weapon, the epée (and this dates right back to the seveteenth century French Salles that introduced foil). The constraints the rules place on foil - the target area, rules of priority etc - heighten the artificiality and were intended to create a safe environment for people to practice sword-play away from the kicking, gouging and other foul play of the actual duel. All of which makes it a bit daft to bemoan the lack of Erroll Flynn-style swash & buckle in the modern game.
:bash:

I'll second that. Seems to be a recurring theme on this forum, certain folks bemoaning fencing in its "modern" form.

Rdb811
-16th May 2004, 23:12
I can't think of any other sport whre this sort of argument crops up - cricket with scooped bats and under-arm bowling anyone /

gbm
-16th May 2004, 23:24
I will third nearly all of that. After all, you don't *have* to do 'modern' foil in competitions, but the proof is in the pudding...
Nobody can define 'classical' anyway, it's just what moves aren't in fashion at the time.
Incidentally, do top fencers raise they're non-sword arms when they are fencing/attacking/doing something else?
The bit I won't third is the bit is the bit about fencing 'reality' being *completely* unimportant. I think it's a good idea to always have in mind what fencing originally was and still is, even more so with electrics (which is simply a more accurate judging mechanism), at least when considering what sort of game we want, and thus what deliberate artificialities we are going to impose, because that is the choice the FIE are now making, and I think they have made the right choice in respecting the history and conventions of foil. We know that point attacks 'work' as a game, so we can always fall back to that if everything else goes screwy (like foil currently is IMHO). But obviously, for considerations of reality, that should be as far as it goes. Other than considering the implication of changes to the rules (which seem to me to caused by deviations from the original intentions of the rules), fencer's do not need to concern themself with 'historical accuracy' (if such a thing even exists) - epee fencers should still hit wherever they like without worrying about the 'effectiveness' of the target they have hit, and should still counter-attack despite (to a foilist) the obvious stupidity :), and foilists can land their ripostes after their opponent remises (provided that the riposte was immediate, of course), despite (to epeeists) their obvious stupidity :).

gbm
-16th May 2004, 23:36
PS The first line of my last post makes it sound like I believe that 'modern foil' exists, and is separate from 'classical foil'. I don't think that. If anybody can give a good explanation as to why foil done twenty years ago is so fundamentally different to foil done now, I'd like to hear it.

Dalby
-17th May 2004, 23:00
I'm still rather worried about this "reality" business. We're talking about people jabbing each other with swords and then walking away uninjured afterwards (except when fencing beginners:rolleyes: ). Unless I've missed a trick or two that makes the whole thing decidedly unreal (surreal?).

Saxon
-17th May 2004, 23:03
Nononono...

Surreal is the fish-slapping dance.

Almost as much fun (if slightly smellier)

pyscho
-23rd March 2009, 21:12
'Classical' fencing is most definately pushing daisies...

bayushi_david
-23rd March 2009, 21:36
I can't think of any other sport where this sort of argument crops up - cricket with scooped bats and under-arm bowling anyone /

How about cricket with five day test matches and slow accumulation of runs versus cricket with 20 overs, pinch hitting and reverse sweeps? Or the long drawn out agony of men's tennis and the power serve? Or the tearing out of hair caused by the kicking game in rugby union?

I can't think of a sport out there that doesn't have this debate in some form or other. I also can't think of a sport that has successfully turned the clock back (although swimming seems to be trying).

Gawain
-24th March 2009, 01:11
Can't believe I missed this thread. Oh, wait. I can.

A couple of my friends are 'classical fencers', which means that they teach a set of parries and attacks which are very different from what I would teach, and, once a year or so, one of them goes off to New York where he fences someone else for a 'purse' which contains a rather large of money. As far as I know, this is to one hit.

In a lot of ways, what they are trying to do, as someone said, is re-enactment, but it's not re-enactment in the sense of a piece of theatre where the result is decided beforehand.

There's a certain attraction to this -- after all, the conventions of foil developed because it was clearly better to not be hit than to hit in a real fight (failing to hit, you get a chance to try again, being hit, you're dead). In their scenario, you fight to one hit, like one hit epee, and failure to defend yourself well means you lose.

But, but, but. It's fine as far as it goes, but it will never be like 'real' duelling as long as you know that you won't actually be dead at the end of it, or a murderer. They use padded jackets, masks and blunted weapons. If one fencer counter-attacks into the other's attack, they are not then both counted as losers, as they most definitely would be in a real duel if both scored a simultaneous, fatal hit. As soon as (and someone already said this) you take the killing bit out, it becomes a sport. Once you accept the conventions, there is no stopping point to stop you accepting other conventions.

What's more, although classical fencing, in the sense used by my friends, may be much _more_ like what fencing salles were like in the 19th century, it is almost certainly not more like the popular notion of fencing, as communicated to the current generation through Pirates of the Caribbean. So it's unlikely to be the salvation of fencing as far as a broader public is concerned.

It's not just flick hits that made the modern game what it is. DEs to 15 instead of poules to 5 makes it a different game. We all take risks in the DE. Sensible fencers are more careful in the poule. Generally speaking, the DE can be faster, more exciting, riskier. Presidents and judges in the days of steam gave the game a different character. There was (dare I say it) a degree of seeing the action one was expecting, when judging a fencer one knew well. There may be some of that still with refs, but the box takes away a great deal of it. The heavy tips of electric weapons changed the balance, altering the game again. But, lest we forget, the original weapons which people used for increasing stabbing related mortality figures were also heavier. And then, what about using poisoned weapons? It worked in Hamlet…

To me, fencing is a sport, and it will drive relentlessly in the direction of all sports: harder, faster, more skilled. Re-enactments, which fix something at a point in time, are absolutely fine. But they aren't part of any sport. How often do you see re-enactment football, re-enactment tennis, or re-enactment golf? Sports-individuals (is that the PC term?) always use the best equipment they can afford, the best techniques they can learn, and any other advantage which is within the scope of the rules. To deny them that is simply to stop it being a sport.