Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Timmy Boy, Jun 13, 2005.
Hey guys, does anyone here do fencing?
going back to its original defination most of us W<Aist are fencers. I study Liechtenauer Kunst des Fechten which is primarly fecnign with the longsword.
But if you are asking if any of us are sport fencers. I think not many are here. We study arts closer to real combat.
I study traditional Scots single-stick which to the untrained eye could be mistaken for FMA stickfighting but it is actually an old training method for broadsword fencing.
I do western or FIE olympic style fencing. Mainly foil but some epee and very rarely - sabre. Started about 25 years ago and been doing it on and off ever since.
Do you fence or are you thinking of starting?
-and I practice from Fiore di Liberis manual named Fior di Battaglia from around 1410. (I focus on wresteling, dagger and longsword.)
Singlestick as a stand-in for Military & heavy Sabre. Source material is Sabre texts from Pepper and Gaspard Le Marchant up through Hutton and even some of the early 20th C. U.S. military Sabre & Cutlas manuals.
(note: The fact that I "study" should not be misconstrued to imply any particularly high skill level.
Peace favor your sword,
Study meaning you can hold the stick and not hit yourself with it.
i used to do sport type fencing, though i had to stop because thay only trained on a friday night so i dident make many classes
I've done about a year and a half of fencing. Mostly foil obviously. But some sabre and epee.
I was thinking of starting fencing to compliment the unarmed stuff that I do. Western arts have a certain appeal for me because they're not talked about so much in the martial arts community, and fencing in particular because of the historical aspect. However, it does look VERY expensive to get started!
I have a vague idea about the weapons used in fencing, but what exactly are they?
I'm assuming you're talking about Olympic style fencing;
Foil = lightweight point hit only weapon, torso target, right of attack rules apply.
Epee = heavy point hit only weapon, all body target, no right of attack rules.
Sabre = edge and point hit weapon, above the waist target, right of attack rules apply.
I'm in the process of writing an article covering the basics of Olympic style fencing but Yoda has a couple of JKD vs Olympic style fencing articles which cover some of the basics as well as the specifics relevant to JKD. I'll post my article in the next few days hopefully. In the mean time www.britishfencing.com and www.fencing.net should get you started.
Starting fencing shouldn't be expensive as most clubs will have kit for you to use (mask, jacket, weapon, glove). My personal take on Olympic style fencing WRT MA's is that it is a bit too sportified and rule bound to be of direct use in most weapon based arts. However, hand speed, distance, timing and the use of feints derived from Olympic style fencing are all useful for most MA's.
Well... you know... most of the time, anyhow. ;-)
Peace favor your sword,
speaking of fencing, anyone know any good schools/whatnot near LaCrosse Wisconsin? Always wanted to give it a go, and with a lack of MA dojos near there, fencing definitely wouldn't hurt
--edit-- a directory of fencing schools works too, i can look for myself =)
Sport fencing is not the best compliment to unarmed MA - take up something with more overlap - something that maintains closing and grappling - in terms of WMA (sport fencing cannot be regarded as such - it is a sport, not a MA) go for medieval type sword styles (the aforementioned KDF [Liechtenauer tradition fighting systems] or Liberi) - they contain an enormous amount of techniques at various distances - these will nicely compliment open hand MA. Sport fencing can complement other WMA - butso damage footwork and appreciation of conceeding a hit
Indeed - take up KDF or Liberi based WMA and what else do you need??!
I know the feeling. Many is the time I have smacked myself in the forehead with the back of my own stick.
KDF and Fiore wld work to compliment your unarmed MA because they are both styles that cover not jsut one weapon but severa, including unarmed standup grappling,l and multiple ranges. That and they used to be battlefeild arts.
I have to agree with Adam R- sport fencing is not a great martial skill. I am a proficient fencer (saber fighter specifically) and I recently started studying Kali. Actually, I just posted about this, so you can give it a read if you click here. I don't mean to disparage fencing, but if you want serious martial skill, I would say that fencing as you will probably find it will usually be a sport MA- sorry.
I'm curious... what is it in particular about sport fencing that stops it from being an effective art? BJJ, judo, wrestling, muay thai and MMA are all unarmed sport arts that have effective crossover to real-life situations, so why is it that weapons should be different?
In brief - I would say the rules. I used to fence epee - so there are fewer rules (I am thinking of rights of way here) than with sabre and foil - but even so. You are limited to linear combat - and consequently linear footwork. It is entirely thrust oriented - focusing distance perception to a finer zone, there is no contact of competitors and the ability (on metal pistes particularly) to score hits by the book - but without any martial intent (sliding points across the floor) all undermine it's usefulness. It has been a sport so long that the rules define the style.
Earlier WMA (now being re-discovered - or still existing) are more concerned with fighting (not scoring points) and consequently are more broadly focussed.
Fencing is a perfectly good sport - gives excellent hand - eye coordination and distance appreciation. But it is not a martial art - KDF (for example) give better appreciation of combat at any distance (including wrestling) and overlap with other MA.
To add on to what Adam R said...
In fencing, the entire point is to get a touch. Two of the three (foil, epee) swords only give points on a thrust. The other (saber) gives points for a cut or thrust. Two of the three swords (foil, saber) have relatively limited target areas, and most importantly, apply rules of right of way. Let me break it down by sword:
Foil- the basic sword. The foil is a very light blade that gives a point for a touch anywhere on the front of the chest or underarm- no where else. Foil combat emerged from the practice of aristocratic dueling in the late renaissance. Nobles needed to defend their honor (ie- I sleep w/your sister, you challenge me to a duel) but didn't want to kill each other. To settle this, they would set a date and time and show up to duel wearing white. The duel went to first touch, which could be seen as red blood on the white clothing- hence the term "touché". A whole system of combat evolved from this, following rules of gentlemanly conduct while dueling (ie- right of way, limited target area, etc).
Epee- the combat sword. An epee is a heavier thrusting sword, with points allowed only for a thrust. Epee combat evolved out of late renaissance combat (ie- Three Musketeers) when piercing blades and arbusqueses had made plate mail and broadswords too cumbersome. In epee the target area is the bottom of the foot to the top of the head- in other words everywhere! Also, in epee there are no rules of right of way- as any fencer will tell you, this changes everything.
Epee is the favorite of some people who like faster, harder competition. It is probably the most “battle oriented” system because it was derived from open field combat systems (ie- think of the target area; in battle, a hit is a hit). However, imo it is still limited because of the fact that the sword is essentially a rapier, only good for thrusting. Also, sport epee has been necessarily watered down for the safety of all. An epee without a tip or a broken epee blade are both solid enough to seriously injure or kill someone.
Saber- the cavalry sword. Saber is my favorite. I find it more fluid and more fun, with better fights and a more realistic feel. However, it isn’t without its limitations. Points in saber are given for a thrust or a cut (the slashing motion most people associate with swords). The target area is the top of the head to the waist, back front, excluding the hands. Rules of right of way apply. Saber combat evolved from cavalry combat (hence the limited target area). Strikes were necessarily made as both cuts and thrusts with combatants riding by. This translates into the current Olympic incarnation or sport saber.
One more thing- rules of right of way. Right of way is basically a rule that says that a combatant can only score a point when s/he has the “right of way.” Right of way is established by holding your sword out straight in a thrust/lunge/obvious deliberate attack. Right of way is lost when your sword is taken out of line or when your attack otherwise misses. Basically, right of way means that you must get your arm out straight first, or parry your opponent’s blade before counterattacking (reposting).
The limitations of fencing for true combat are manifold. First of all, the entire point of fencing is to touch the other person first. This means that part of good fencing strategy is literally throwing yourself at your opponent and touching them before they touch you. Let’s be clear- these aren’t martial arts, kick-the-bag or sparring-gut-punch strikes- these are light, almost non-existent touches. It is said that a proper touch should not be felt by the person touched, and should only leave a small mark on their jacket. This makes sense for a sport, where you are trying to get the most you can out of your range, but not for combat. So, good strategy (google “fleche”) is running at your opponent to touch them and, simultaneously, get within a range where his weapon (and usually yours too) is unusable. Think about this- in a fight in the street, do you really want to be in a position where your weapon is ineffective, using an art that doesn’t teach empty hand techniques, after you’ve just nicked your opponent with your sword (a relatively light sword btw)?
Second of all, all systems are taught off of a foil. The idea is that a great foil fighter will be a great saber fighter if you give him cuts and a larger target area. Likewise, take away right of way and make the target area larger, and you have a great epee fighter. This may be true for sport, but imo it doesn’t translate into good combat practice. Foil is a gentleman’s, with the express purpose of not hurting anyone too badly. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t thrust like a fencer with deadly intent, but it does mean that the whole mentality of the sport is one that is very restrained. Even the most basic fencer has enough control not to hurt someone gravely while fencing (barring some fluke happening).
Finally, like Adam said, the art is linear- it only works in one dimension. This means that you cover up your target area only in one direction, and that there is no lateral footwork taught. What if someone approaches you form the side? Or, even worse, knows Kali? I can assure you that the triangular footwork in Kali is an absolute b**** to deal with as a fencer- they constantly move side to side, hacking with a short blade and grabbing while you constantly want to move back and forth, thrusting and cutting and using your range. It’s a mess! And, if anyone manages to get through your effective range and past your guard, you’re sunk! There is no empty hand, close quarters, or anything similar taught.
As Adam hinted at, other WMA are full combat arts, so this isn’t anti-fencing or anti-WMA. The truth is that fencing has a highly structured and very rigid rule set, and that fencers are taught accordingly. This is good for sport fencers, but not good for serious combatants. So, the conclusion after 1,000 words- I love fencing, but fencing is a sport, and should be treated as such.
(but I'll bet I'd be hell in a street fight if I had a car antenna!)
But not the telescopic variety right?
Both the previous two posts are very good and cover the shortcomings of fencing as an MA. BJJ, judo, wrestling, muay thai and MMA are all contact sports and I would imagine that the only real difference between the sport versions and real fighting or self defence versions are how long you hold chokes, how hard you can hit or where you can hit. I mean, even the sport versions of some of those MA's go for knockouts which seems pretty close to a real fight to me.
Hard hitting is expressly not allowed in fencing, you don't get more points for hitting somneone really hard and leaving big bruises everywhere. In a competition trying to hit harder than is necessary is a way of wasting energy and collecting warnings or cards.
That said, the sense of distance, timing, fake attacks (feints) and the speed of execution required in fencing are useful to any MA in a general sense as long as you can find a way of applying them to your specific requirements. JKD is the only art I'm aware of that has taken modern fencing moves and applied it to an empty hand art. Obviously the origins of modern sport fencing were martial but the martial bit has pretty much gone now.
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