View Full Version : Starting With Fench Handle

Barry Paul
-2nd April 2003, 07:20
Why do most fencers start with a french handle but then use a pistol grip? What is the point of french grips?:confused:

-8th April 2003, 11:17
i would of thought you would like this barry as it is making you more money!:grin:

-9th April 2003, 07:38
The french handle makes older fencers feel more important. Which must be nice for them as the youngsters always thrash them.:grin:

-9th April 2003, 12:43
maybe it is the only way they can atract people to the sport as with a french handle it looks like a real sword. but i think they are better anyway.:grin:

3 Card Trick
-9th April 2003, 21:43
It's not the handle that makes a difference it's the nut on the end of it.


-10th April 2003, 11:29
so every time someone blames the reason they lost on there sword you no it is actualy the thing holding it at the end.

3 Card Trick
-10th April 2003, 12:30
That's what we keep telling you:grin:

-16th April 2003, 16:15
Beginners handled a pistol grip tend to make a fist. Then every action is done from the wrist or elbow. While a french grip CAN be misused, and a pistol grip (clearly) CAN be used properly, beginners will tend to mis-use a pistol more often than they will a french.

Once proper technique is learned a pistol can be used WITHOUT hammerlocking it. Removing that disadvantage the pistol grip will be more effective for most people. The key is making sure that the bad habits haven't already been fixed, starting with a french grip is one method to help with that.

Can someone be taught correctly with a pistol? Yes. Does it make it harder? In my experience, yes.

-B :)

Boo Boo
-16th April 2003, 18:01
Yup, the nut on the end of my foil is ALWAYS the reason I loose. :dizzy:

(thinking brain transplant is the only answer...)

-16th April 2003, 20:54
I started a small club about two years ago and to start with all we had access to were pistol grip foils. As oiuyt said they tend to make a fist which lead to a punching action, which leads to a very bruised coach. We quickly invested in lots of french grip weapons just for the sake of the coach.

-17th April 2003, 11:47
How can u hold a pistol grip wrong lol? I don't doubt you're quite correct, my experience is rather limited with regards to some of yours, but I use a pistol grip and I find it completely intuitive, as opposed to a french grip which the first time I looked at I didn't have a clue which way up was which. I also find french grips are prone to turning in my hand (anyone else have this problem?) whereas pistol grips stay put. Having said that after using a pistol grip for quite a while, I now find french grips more comfortable than I used to

-17th April 2003, 16:27
The issue isn't holding it wrong (as in the wrong place), although many non-fencers do, it's holding it wrong (as in the wrong manner). Many (most?) novices will hold a pistol grip with all five fingers clamped so that the grip doesn't move within the hand. Manipulation at this point is done somewhere wrist and back. This leads to larger, slower actions than can be accomplished with a looser grip and fine finger manipulations. While a french grip CAN be clamped into place, it's a much less frequent tendancy. Avoiding the habit of learning a clamped grip is a reasonable incentive for starting novices with a french.

As mentioned above, a new fencer CAN be taught to fence properly with an orthopedic, it just is harder for the coach and the fencer's own tendancies will generally work against long-term interest.

-B :)

-17th April 2003, 20:16
ive always been told that starting with a french grip helps develope point control,when one switches to a pistol its a lot stronger grip wich in turn makes the fencer use their arm for power more than thier fingers for point control,in our salle if you use a pistol and start hitting off target alot then you switch back to a french for a couple bouts until you start using your fingers again....

-17th April 2003, 22:01
personally I find my grip is much more clamped with a french grip as I have to hold it much much tighter to keep it in place. My grip with a pistol grip is on the other hand much more relaxed, you can *almost* let it sit loose in your hand which makes for altogether more comfortable fencing. Of course I'm not quite a new fencer, rather a new-ish fencer, and I did originally start with a french grip, but that was back when I fenced years ago. Then again my current coach smacks u on the wrist and tells u to loosen your grip if your grip is clamped, interestingly he hasn't done that since I bought my pistol grip, but from a personal point of view I can feel my grip is a lot more relaxed, which in turn I feel makes me fence better.

I think at the end of the day it's all down to personal preference. some people will swear by a pistol grip and others by a french grip

-19th April 2003, 19:16
When I first started fencing, my club only had pistol. I liked it, and found I could hold it comfortably. I heard things online about something called a 'French grip', and I saw a few pictures, and heard people arging over which was better. I asked my coach, and it turned out he'd ordered some.... eventually they arrived and the second I picked one up I felt even more comfortable. At first I found my movement was slightly different, but I soon grew to like the more fluid movement I could get with a French. I find I have better point control, and can make the tip move with less movement at the handle.... but that's just from my own experiance. I sort of wish I'd started on French, but perhaps then I would have tried pistol and prefered it. Who knows :shrug:

-19th April 2003, 19:43
they say the grass is always greener on the other side :P

lindsay watkiss
-20th April 2003, 22:19
their is no need to teach a beginner with a French grip. I have given beginner classes with both, and until the student can gain an adequate understanding of footwork, the grip just does not matter.
I also feel that juniors should start with a pistol, as it does not tire the arm like the French grip.:moon:

-20th April 2003, 22:44
yeah that's something I find. a french grip does tire your arm, where a pistol does not. However, if it's tiring the arm , it's cos the muscles aren't used to it, so it might be good to use a french grip to strengthen those muscles.

-24th April 2003, 16:14
my opinion on the whole handle matter is that french handles are better. i like the way it feels better and i like how it is more realistic, no-one ever fought with pistol handles in the old days, and if i'm wrong please correct me.

-9th May 2003, 20:52
french grips are EXTREMELY important. they are used to teach the techniques correctly. i am going to start fencing with a french grip in foil again. i ordered one last week. it is good to get back to basics and french grips are important.

my opinion as to the use of pistol grips today is that you are at a distinct advantage if you dont use one. because a pistol grip is an extremely wristy style of fencing it is also a much stronger and firmer grip. and i have tried fencing using a french grip against someone using a pistol grip. my foil flew out of my hands plenty of times.

it is good to get back to basics and improve on your technique,especially your point control. no pistol grip no flick. you HAVE to fence point inline. this encourages you to make your movements smaller and to disengage and and parry correctly.

VIVA LA FRENCH GRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-10th May 2003, 16:50
no pistol grip no flick

That would explain why I've never been able to flick then :)

and i have tried fencing using a french grip against someone using a pistol grip. my foil flew out of my hands plenty of times

Last Thursday I saw that happen visa-versa. My coach with a pistol grip had his foil flipped right out of his hand by my friend with a French.

-10th May 2003, 21:31
I was messing around with a french grip the other night and it amazed me at the lack of flexibility and manoeverability of the wrist with a french grip. Undoubtedly a much stronger and faster movement from the wrist results from a pistol grip.

-11th May 2003, 20:13
French Handles really suck, unless you can use one...and even then they suck.:(

On a positive note, they make brilliant beginner weapons for all the reasons written by others.

Basically what i am saying is they are a no go winning area when u start comps.:dont:

But let us not effect the ingenius bonus u get with a french handle...THE MARTINGALE.:sun:


-16th May 2003, 14:02
no pistol grip no flick

True, but on the other hand no french grip no pomelling.

I started with a french grip against my coach's advice as I was using my father's sword (...heard that in some films somewhere?). I reckon it got me using two fingers and thumb much more quickly than a pistol would have done, and because those two fingers and thumb got exercised I built up muscle which came in very handy when I moved to epee.... where I use a pistol. Not that you guys want hordes moving over to epee :) .

Most of the epeeists in my club borrow my french grip epee occasionally for a different experience, but having said that it's two and a half years old and still has a shiny guard...:confused:

-16th May 2003, 15:55
I swapped with someone last night and used a french grip for a while. Just doesn't have the same effect ;)

-16th May 2003, 17:20

In the Russian teams beginners were handled French grips, and then switched to what many of you know as Russian grips. Only at the L16 were fencers were handled real pistol grips - those who wanted them, of course.

One truism escapes I think many: You CAN NOT use French grips the way you use pistol. It's just not done.
Aoife got it right when she remarked how she blew the foil out of her coach's hand; The French grip acts as sort of extension to your arm and the power you operate on the sword is in contingency to your arm, whilst in pistol, it's vertical, and you loose some - let me get my physics right - no use, can't make the calculation but considerably less strength in the hand.

You're supposed to be more adapt to feint's on your opponent's blade with French - but if you didn't grow with French - nothing will help to fix it, you'll be always an advocate of pistol. It's a matter of practice - like everything else in fencing.

-16th May 2003, 17:23
Originally posted by reposte
One truism escapes I think many: You CAN NOT use French grips the way you use pistol. It's just not done.
Aoife got it right when she remarked how she blew the foil out of her coach's hand; The French grip acts as sort of extension to your arm and the power you operate on the sword is in contingency to your arm, whilst in pistol, it's vertical, and you loose some - let me get my physics right - no use, can't make the calculation but considerably less strength in the hand.

Spank me if I'm wrong, but didn't you just contradict your own point?

-16th May 2003, 17:42
Spanking I leave for the professionals, from what I've heard on Brit's you're experts on the subject. :tongue:

I did not.
The point is that when you have a pistol versus an opponent with French, don't try to be stronger because you'll loose.
Abandon - for example, many of the "pinning his blade" or whatever it's called in English (Setting it forcibly aside and attacking into the opening).
Don't try to force his parries, don't try anything that will play into his hands.
Aoife is a sweet school girl and I imagine her coach is stronger.
She knocked the foil out of his hands - doesn't that clarify the point I made?

-16th May 2003, 17:48
so are you saying that french grip or pistol grip is better? aoife uses french grip, so from your example you seem to be advocating french grip?

-16th May 2003, 18:04
Not at all, personally - I've started on pistol - I can't abide French but that's no reflection on it.
But I can tell you that I'm seriously thinking on converting to Russian for the time being, in order to strengthen my inline accuracy
and mature as an inline fencer before I start learning Prime touches and flicking, for example.
I think that it's best to start with it (French), but once you've matured and developed your own style of fencing
it's really up to you to use the one which suits you most.
All I wanted to stress is that French and pistol are not adversaries on the same level: Each one implies
a different school and fortes, and each fencer ought use that which suits his fencing style best.

Safer to begin with French, no harm done if not.
And that my friend, is the fat lady singing ...