"I always thought that fencing only focused on games and not traditional weapons"

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Mitlov, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    I've played with a classical fencer in a park. The addition of circular footwork really didn't change things for me. After all, you can already move left or right about a meter to change the angle on your opponent on a fencing piste. So the important part of circular movement--getting off the line or dealing with an opponent getting off the line in the middle of an exchange--is already part of modern fencing. And as for the circling before an exchange...meh. Not hard to deal with.

    So no sword arts are "martial arts" (as you use the term) in a society where people don't carry swords around with them? Because this criticism applies just as much to classical fencing as it does to modern...

    The blunt tip is a distinction without a difference. If you know how to poke with a blunt epee, you know how to pierce with a sharp epee, just as a boxer knows how to punch without a glove (as you admitted above).
  2. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Wow, does this stuff keep getting dragged sideways...

    First off, you seem to keep referencing Classical Fencing vs Modern Fencing, and introducing some imagined argument I've made about them or between them. Both of those terms mean the same thing to me, and I think, many others.

    Are you referring to Historical Swordplay (i.e. sword, rapier, et. al.) when you say "Classical Fencing"?

    If so, I'd say they are worlds and centuries apart. In swordplay, Rapier begets Smallsword, and swords then decline in use until the Napoleonic wars, when the Cavalry Sabre is brought back, and then decline again at the early 20th century.
    There are no rules, there are many schools of technique, oodles of books, and lots of sparring with all aspects of the fight included (i.e. a Martial Art).

    Fencing, Classical or Modern, is the Foil, Epee, and Sabre. It is a Civilian parallel. A soldier does not fight to kill with an Epee, a soldier has a sword to kill with. He may, however study Fencing. For the bloodsport (again, not the killing, just the machismo and settling of scores in a less permanent manner), there is the Mensura with thrusting weapons (the Epee), and Cutting weapons (the Shlager).

    Did you play with someone who studies historical Swordplay? Of course any skills you have are useful, I'm just wondering if the person you sparred with was really fluent in the whole aspect of the fight, using a (usually) triangular foot pattern in a very 3 dimensional space, utilizing all apects of the fight. A typical fencing bout is very attack/parry attack/parry (the right of way philosophy) approach, whereas the Historical swordplay is very attack/counter/counter/counter with a blurring of ward/avoidance/attack. Fencing is very off contact, swordplay very in contact. Fencing knows nothing of grappling, pommel strikes, throws, halfswording, offhand hits, elbows, knees and fists. Swordplay and it's sparring usually do.

    Most sword arts are child studies under a parent art. One studies the whole, and the swordplay is an aspect. Also, most sword arts eventually involve real swords. You practice cutting or stabbing tangible media, you use a sword. A foil is not a sword. I don't feel an epee is a sword either, it is again a training tool, however once you wander into the bloodsport application, the line gets blurry. I would consider the Shlager and Epee possibly tools unique to their own trade, but not the classic "white arm" view of Swords. A bo-ken would fit in the same category.

    And again, you've lost me. What? What criticism, how does it apply, and you speak as if I've said something applies to one medium and not another?

    I would say that either a sharp epee is called a smallsword, and is a sword, a blunt epee is called an epee, and is a training tool.


    An epee is a specific tool for a specific sport (fencing) that can either be blunt for training purpose, or sharp for bloodsport purposes.

    I would, however, never call an Epee a sword, a "white arm" or a lethal killing tool. Can you kill someone with it? Sure, but the same could be said for a set of keys, a radio antenna, or a windshield wiper.

    Hell, Highland Games could then be considered a Martial Art as it teaches you to throw rocks, chains, chunks of steel and logs at a target. They could be lethal, too. What about darts? If you can throw something pointy and stick it into something, is it a Martial Art too?

    If you know how to poke, you know how to poke, and an available tool might possibly present itself to give you a fighting chance to use a poke to debilitate an assailant, but I think the Fencer and the Boxer dropped in the same wrong alley at the same wrong time are going to suffer vastly different consequences due to their training, and would effect vastly different wounds upon their assailant with vastly different levels of lethality.
  3. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Sorry but you're talking cross-wired again. According to your stated definition, Pugilism is now and always has been a sport. Even if you trace modern Boxing back to Greeks and Romans (I do not), it yet is nothing more than a "sport" by your definition, not a "martial art."

    Peace favor your sword,
  4. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Did I? How and where did I do that?
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Every time you disqualified an art from the ranks of "martial" by harping about "rules" and "game" etc. "Rule-drenched" sound familiar? "Rule laden" too?

    Here's one of your quotes:

    "P.S. I almost forgot. Civilian analogues, far removed from their lethal counterparts, drenched in rules, and not what I would typify as a Martial Art."

    So, according to your oft-repeated stipulation, the inclusion of rules and the intention to be used in a sporting environment disqualifies a practice as a martial art. Or are you finally agreeing with Mitlov that perhaps it is a bit more nuanced than that?

    That would be wise considering that warfare going back millennia has typically had some sort of "rules" about what combatants could and could not do. Even today the Hague Convention limits the types of ammunition which may be used in "no rules combat." So jettisoning the whole "combat has no rules" idea is probably best. There usually are rules. Just fewer and different one.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  6. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny


    I was using "classical fencing" to refer to all sorts of historical-oriented fencing, from rapier combat to smallsword combat to 19th-century-style first-blood epee combat. Basically, I was using "classical" to mean "not USFA/FIE/Olympic-competition-oriented." Maybe it's not the right term, but that's what I meant.

    As for the definition of martial art, let's step back for a minute. I use a pretty broad definition. It's any practice based upon unarmed or armed individual combat, whether it be practiced for anticipated life-or-death battles, sport, recreation, historical preservation, health purposes, or meditative purposes. It's a broad definition that includes everything from MCMAP to Olympic taekwondo and MMA to Koryu Bujutsu and HEMA to Chinese internal arts to kyudo. And yes, all sorts of swordplay, from Olympic fencing to SCA fencing to ARMA to kendo, are included. I have trouble looking at anything where someone trains to strike another person with their fists, feet, or a weapon, and saying "that's not a martial art."

    You, on the other hand, seem to be going for a very narrow definition of martial art, that excludes all sorts of stuff from the definition. Problem is, you don't seem to be using any consistent rule when deciding what you think is a martial art and what you think isn't. For example:

    * At first you assert that martial arts have to be based upon military combat, not civilian combat, but then you state that boxing and Muay Thai are martial arts (and presumably karate and judo and wing chun and most other things people think of when they hear "martial arts," most of which are rooted in civilian life as opposed to military life).

    * Then you assert that stuff that's rule-laden and competition-based can't be a martial art, because martial arts are supposed to be about no-rules combat. Yet you include boxing (both modern and historic pugilism) as "martial arts," as you do modern Muay Thai, despite the fact that both are as rule-laden as anything else out there.

    * Then you assert that modern fencing is not a martial art because a modern fencer can't directly apply what they've learned on the street without a weapon that they ultimately won't be carrying on the street...but the same is true of most sword arts.

    * Then you assert that modern fencing is not a martial art because we never work with sharps in class, even though you classify modern boxing as a martial art even though they never hit with bare knuckles in class.

    * Then you assert that modern fencing is not a martial art because it's not an all-ranges system that includes grappling, but once again, you include boxing and Muay Thai, the former of which has no grappling and the latter of which has minimal grappling (only clinching).

    See the problem? You're not offering one coherent definition of "martial art," even though you're eager to classify various things as "not martial arts." Seems to me that if you come to a place called "martial arts planet," and tell various posters there that what they do isn't actually a martial art, you should be ready to define what, precisely, a "martial art" is and defend that definition.
  7. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    I'm glad to see we're finally into dialogue here, that's what I was hoping for.

    In brief, I'll describe my theory as follows, and I think it's got some very simple filters along the way that can distill it.

    1) Is it Martial or Civilian (possibly both)
    -> exeunt Martial Arts

    2) If it is Civilian *only*, is it's application to Combat or Sport (possibly both)?
    <- exeunt Sports

    3) As it is taught, does it reach a point where the training includes transitioning to a Martial/Lethal tool or level of fight (unarmed arts notwithstanding).
    -> exeunt Martial Arts

    4) As it is taught, does it focus on survival or scoring? More directly, does it teach/include a broader sense of Combat, or is it fixed within a finite scope of application/tools/rules
    -> exuent Martial Arts
    <- exeunt Sports

    I focused on "Martial" as the broadest criteria, it separates the Fighting/Warfare from the purely Civilian.

    Weapons broadly fall into the "Martial" bucket. Very few weapons forms were the *sole* purview of Civilian life, the Rapier being a good example of a fuzzy distinction. A Rapier is a Civilian combat arm. One does not take a Rapier onto the battlefield. While the form and function of the Rapier and Reiterschwert (commonly confused weapons based on their similar profiles) are similar, they are different beasts, and while they have techniques in common, one does not simply substitute one for the other. A Smallsword is 100% a Civilian arm.

    Does that mean unarmed combat does not constitute "Martial"? No, it simply means that further criteria should be applied to discern it. We'll get back to that shortly.

    Is Fencing (meaning the use of Foil, Epee and Fencing Sabre) directly applicable to Warfare? No, it is not. It is directly applicable to a 6 foot by 42 foot strip.

    It furthermore is a training method derived from, and most directly applicable to (if you step outside of the whole of it's application) the Smallsword, a 100% Civilian Arm. So, it is definitely Civilian, not Martial.

    Does the art of Fencing include actual Smallsword training (or for the Sabre, the Cavalry Sabre)? No, it does not, it's whole purpose goes back to the strip with the tools it uses. It's training is not focused on "how to survive", it is focused on "how to score points" (the exception of the Mensura is "how to draw blood", its version of points).

    If you add the broad definitions of Sport as commonly defined, it clearly *IS* a sport (that is not to say a Martial Art can't be a Sport as well)

    "anything humans find amusing or entertaining"
    "gambling and events staged for the purpose of gambling; hunting; and games and diversions, including ones that require exercise"
    "Activity engaged in for relaxation and amusement"
    "organized, competitive, and skillful physical activity requiring commitment and fair play, in which a winner can be defined by objective means. It is governed by a set of rules or customs."
    "a source of diversion, physical activity engaged in for pleasure, a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in"

    So, Fencing is not Military, it is Civilian. Furthermore it's training uses tools explicitly for a Sport. There is no Combat application that it eventually transitions to. It's genesis and peak of training are *wholly* self-contained within a Sport.

    It *reflects* weapons used in Combat, primarily Civilian Combat, and even if I were to concede it as a true Weapon's training platform (which I do not), it is also very myopic in its scope, and limited to training only a limited range of Combat, it does not incorporate a broader sense of whole body combat, and wholly within the confines of the rules of its Sport.

    The same could be said of the original genesis of Single-stick. It was a Civilian diversion that removed the all-out danger of actual sword duelling, and was beholden to a series of rules in order to allow for an accurate scoring and confined to acceptable codes of conduct. Sure, it can be lethal if used outside of the scope of the rules, but the training is not rooted in "how to survive", it is rooted in "how to score points".

    For the Unarmed, it again asks the question, is it's application to Actual Combat (Martial), Sportive Combat (Sport), or both.

    In Pugilism (the broadest spectrum for Boxing), it's application was for both. It was a training aid for sword and shield fighting, it was a Champions' duel to the death, it was also a Sport. Boxing within a ring, utilizing the various rules developed is a Sport, however Pugilism is a Martial Art. It's application is directly manifested to Combat and its training is not limited by the rules dictated by the Sport.

    The gloves are a tool designed to limit broken bones necessary for the Sport, but the Pugilist is taught to fight with or without their inclusion. A Fencer without a Foil, Epee or Sabre is a person moving back and forth with an arm pointed out. Sans tool, the training is all for naught, there is no other choice.

    Muay Thai, both a Martial Art and a Sport, the training is directly applicable to the former, the rules to conform to the latter.

    Kenjutsu, again, both a Martial Art and a Sport, the training is directly applicable to the former, the rules to conform to the latter. The other related arts of Cutting, Drawing, and the unarmed Aikido round out the full Combat suite. In the true Martial application, one was not simply a Swordsman, there was a full complement of other Combat forms that you studied. Kendo is the sport.

    One can certainly study any of them devoid of the others, you can study Kendo without ever having touched steel, one could be well versed in Iado without ever sparring, and one can have attained the highest skill in Kenjutsu without having the least amount of unarmed combat under their belt. I would personally consider that an incomplete training under the general heading of Bujustsu, the parent Martial Art.

    Also, having scoured a few more articles, what I termed "Tai chi", I now know is "Tai chi chih" and it still hovers in the Sport bucket only, but I now understand it as a smaller piece of Tai chi chuan, clearly a Martial Art as well as Sport.

    Now, does that make more sense?
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    That's a really long formula and I don't quite follow it, especially where you start using arrows and "exeunt."

    Basically, are you saying that a practice is a martial art ONLY if at least one of these two criteria are met?

    (1) It's taught with the stated purpose of preparing people for life-or-death battle, even if that battle is hypothetical and will never happen in modern times (i.e., longsword combat); or

    (2) Regardless of what the stated purpose is, it has primary and direct practical application to a real-world fight (i.e., modern boxing).
  9. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Hmm, I thought it was pretty straightforward, but from 2 pages of this, clearly it may not be... :)

    1) Is it Martial or Civilian (possibly both)
    Martial -> It's a Martial Art
    Civilian -> It's a Civilian Art, let's distill it further.
    Both -> Definitely a Martial Art, Civilian Arts should be distilled further.

    2) If it is Civilian *only*, is it's application to Combat or Sport (possibly both)?
    Sport -> It's a Sport
    Combat -> Distill Further

    3) As it is taught, does it reach a point where the training includes transitioning to a Martial/Lethal tool or level of fight (unarmed arts notwithstanding).
    Yes -> It's a Martial Art

    4) As it is taught, does it focus on survival or scoring? More directly, does it teach/include a broader sense of Combat, or is it fixed within a finite scope of application/tools/rules
    Survival/Broader sense of Combat -> It's a Martial Art
    Scoring/Rules/Tools -> It's a Sport
    Both -> It's both.

    Hmmm, I'll have to mull this over. It's pretty close, I might ditch "life-or-death battle" and swap it with "direct conflict with the itent to cause bodily harm", and certainly there is a need to be blind to the era/epoch, as many of us study ostensibly dead arts. I haven't been in a poleaxe fight personally, but in case I am, I'm prepared to meet it... ;)

    Your clause number 2 seems a little cloudy to me, but it's certainly close to the mark.

    Let me ask you, if you analyze Fencing using your two criteria, what do you come up with. Furthermore, I would invite you to run your interpretation of Fencing (and Singlestick for Kirk), and see how you would answer the 4 criteria.

    I'm not asking you to agree with me, I just would like to see how you personally would evaluate the forms you know and love through that filter.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  10. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    I never said I agreed with either "filter" system. That being said:

    Under the first:

    (1) Civilian.

    (2) Both, considering your admonition "to be blind to era/epoch." A competitive fencer knows how to put the tip of a metal rod into an opponent without the reverse happening, even if they intend on only doing so in a sport venue. The skill transfers over when you need to do the same thing in a non-sporting context, just as a wrestler can pin someone on a barroom floor as easily as they can pin them on a wrestling mat.

    (3) Question doesn't make sense. Any solid hit to the torso with the tip of a blade will likely be life-threatening if you swap a flexible practice blade for a sharp. Obvious safety issues prevent anyone from actually stabbing training partners with sharps. We don't overtly talk about "and this would kill someone," but that doesn't mean it wouldn't if we just swapped out a practice blade for a sharp. As for the second-and-unrelated part of the question, no we don't grapple.

    (4) Discussions focus on scoring. Thus it's a sport.

    My problem with this analysis, though, is you consistently refuse to say "boxing is not a martial art," yet the clear result of this four-step process is that modern boxing would classify as a sport but not a martial art.

    As for the second framework (my simplification of what I think you're trying to say), the answer to both points is no, so it would not be a martial art under that framework. Neither would Aikido (as it's taught by the majority of aikido teachers, as opposed to Koyo), Wing Chun (as taught by the majority), Kyudo, Olympic taekwondo, etc. Since all these people consider themselves "martial artists," the test itself leads to undesirable results (excluding large numbers of self-declared martial artists--people who are recognized by most laypeople as "martial artists," from the definition of "martial art").

    HOWEVER, with your modification to my formula (that we take the word "modern" out of the second one and replace with "in any epoch"), Olympic fencing WOULD be a martial art. Because if you can fence, you can fight with a smallsword, just as a wrestler or boxer can apply their sport skills outside of a sport environment. Seriously--would you want to cross smallswords with Tagliariol, Jeannet, or Vezzali? Seriously, they'd perforate anyone here if you handed them a smallsword. Any argument to the contrary sounds suspiciously like the arguments that MMA fighter would choke in a back-alley fight because they're not explicitly training for it...a theory that's been proven wrong time and time again.

    I put "modern" in the second because you previously said fencing isn't a martial art because a fencer can poke someone with your finger, but they're not going to actually carry a sword around in the real world. With the "in any epoch" language instead, you betcha fencing is a martial art.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  11. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.


    It is not effective without the blade.

    tegatana handblade based on swordsmanship.

    Attached Files:

  12. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Good point. Similarly, as much as I hate it when people argue from Bruce Lee...

    Full article:
  13. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Neither have I, nor do I expect it.

    Nope, I haven't said that. Competition boxing *is* a sport, irrefutable, and I did say that, explicitly. However, a Boxer learns to fight first, and in the ring second. A boxer is taught how to hit, where to hit, when to hit in order to effect maximum damage. 'This is how you remove his ability to breathe', 'this is how you want to hit that jaw to effect a knockout'.

    The ring is where the rules add "and no hitting here, or here, or here, or here".

    Remove the ring from the fighter, and he is still a fighter. Remove the strip and the blades and the Fencer is a pedestrian.

    Does a fencer's skills allow him to pick up an object and weild it in a threatening manner? Of course. However, if somewhere in his brain he is wired to extend the elbow before executing a hit, he may very well end up on the pavement before he gets that far. His training and focus are on a very minute portion of an overall fight. He is trained to operate within rules, and trained against an opponent who abides by them.

    Why doesn't it make sense? Does the fencer ever train with a lethal tool? Have you ever hit, or been hit with a sword? Did you ever pause to think that perhaps the shape and angle of the blade will have a LOT to do with whether a hit is lethal or not. If you stab and the blade is wider than about 1/2" and aligned vertically, you will most likely move your opponent before ever penetrating the ribcage and getting to the meaty bits. Did you know that a clean pierce through the pectoral and into the armpit with a dirk is not nearly as debiliating as one would think (saw an Actor finish 10 minutes of performance in a play after having stabbed himself sheathing a dagger too aggresively and missing, fun times!)

    There is a difference between combat with swords and fencing, believe me, I've been wounded by both, and have had a diamond pointed shlager thrust directly into my Adam's apple (twice!) by a professional fencing teacher who happened to be a lousy stage combatant, with nary a wound bigger than a scratch.

    No, Olympic Fencing would be a Sport, and a Fencer who augments his studies with actual Smallsword fighting would be a Martial Artist. It does not, however, make Fencing a Martial Art.
  14. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    And I would agree 100% that this martial art is effective without the blade. I'm not sure where you're quote came from, but if it was something I wrote, I'm guessing the context was wholly within the realm of Fencing (Foil, Epee, Sabre)

    Western Modern or Classical Fencing is mostly useless without the blade. Hence what I characterize it as Sportive combat, not a Martial Art. It's focus and technique are what make it helpless in a bladeless environment.
  15. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Did you miss post 132?

    Here's another article about the ties between fencing and Jeet Kune Do:


    And here's some more:

  16. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Just out of curiosity, upon what basis do you form your opinion of Pugilism?
  17. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    I'm not meaning to sound like a smartass, but I have to say, 'What are you talking about?'
    No, I saw your post (#132), but I was actually responding to Koyo's post, as it appeared he was attemping to quote me, and then refute it with his evidence.

    I now see what he was quoting:

    As I'd stated, my quote is in the context of Fencing (Foil, Epee, Sabre). An art that if unarmed, and void of other Combat training, is relatively useless for Combat purposes.

    I'm failing to see the conclusion you are trying to draw or point you are attempting to declare. I'll take a stab and guess that you are telling me that Bruce Lee utilized many Fencing aspects in his study. Okay, I get that, and they were akin to, and augemented, his other fields of study, I get that, too.

    I do not see my assertation that Fencing is a Combative Sport, nor my assertation that one aspect that dismisses it *is* the lack of other Combat techniques within it's folds (including unarmed fighting, open sparring, etc.) as being in *any* way a conflict with the above. It makes *PERFECT* sense that many of the Fencing techniques are analagous to other Arts, it makes perfect sense that some aspects may more clearly be described through one syntax (that of fencing) vs. another

    If I take a step back an look at the spirit of your last two posts, it *seems* like what you are taking exception with is a *perceived* slight of Fencing. I assure you I am not slighting Fencing in the least (nor Single-stick, nor Boxing, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum). As a matter of fact, I began fencing with a former Olympic Team Fencer, I continued my studies with the former Captain (and a Captain) of the U.S. Army Fencing Team, and I am very good friends with a former and sometimes Armourer to the U.S. Team.

    I love Fencing, I cannot bout any longer due to medical issues with my ankles and the ligaments around my knees, but I love it. Historic swordplay and Single-stick style sports have allowed me to continue to fight, as the stresses upon my ankles and knees are not as exasperated as they are on the strip. And I'm quite comfortable in my statement that Fencing is Combative Sport, not a Martial Art.

    It sounds to me as if you hear a declaration from my lips that the skill of fencing cannot aid an individual in combat (it can, and I have stated that numerous times). I *am* saying that if one were to be trained solely as a Fencer, one's "Combat skills" are severely blinkered and limited, add to that a reliance upon a tool in order to execute said Combat skills, and it becomes fairly well useless. Why? Because it is a Sport.

    A World-class fencer with no other combat skills to bear and no foil, epee, sharp stick, broken bottle, radio antenna, etc. is a highly dextrous, extremely nimble, lean, cardiovascular powerhouse springing-machine who is an unparalleled expert at how to strike lightning fast and execute about 1/4-1/2 pound per square inch of force, give or take, with a slender, somewhat flexible rod.

    As far as Kirk's question, I'll summarize it as "I have a general survey under my belt, and I'm sure you have for more in depth knowledge than I on the matter". Rather than bait me by pursuing my credentials, how about offering some constructive thought, criticism, responses to the invitations I had made regarding my readings of the material you offered, the requests for you to share your thoughts on my abstract, or even just peruse my filter, and run through the responses as you would deem them. Again, you don't have to agree with my assessment, merely answer as you would, and offer your criticisms of either my logic, or perhaps enlighten me if I have made some gross error (such as my flawed statement about Tai Chi earlier).
  18. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    I have no experience in western competition fencing so perhaps incorrectly I had responded from a Japanese sword view.

    Myself I think that ANY competative art shall enhance your natural ability to fight since I think it is ATTITUDE and principles which are of the greater value in in real fight more so than techniques.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  19. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Why do I care whether or not you classify fencing as a martial art?

    In the end, it doesn't really matter. Some guy who I likely will never meet in person believes that fencing is not a "martial art," but I do. It doesn't tangibly affect me, just as some guy I'd never meet saying "Judaism is not a religion" doesn't tangibly affect me, even though I think the statement is dead wrong.

    Nevertheless, I care for two reasons:

    (1) This site, my favorite internet forum, is called "martial arts planet." I only train in fencing right now, and that's not likely to change in the near future. Saying "you're not a martial artist" is somewhat akin to saying "you don't belong on this forum."

    (2) I find the entire thing incredibly patronizing. When someone says "I train with flexible practice blades for a sword fight that will never actually occur in the 21st century, whereas you train with flexible practice blades for the sake of sparring with those flexible practice blades, so I'm a martial artist and you're not," I find that to be a distinction without a practical difference, and I find the attitude behind the statement incredibly patronizing.

    Why did I post the Bruce Lee articles?

    Did you read them? You're quick to attribute physical attributes ("highly dextrous, extremely nimble, lean, cardiovascular powerhouse springing-machine") to modern fencing, but you ignore how much of the strategy and tactics and principles carries over to other arts. Bruce Lee named his art "the art of the intercepting fist" while thinking of epee stop-hits. That should tell you that he's looking at a lot more than the athletic aspect of fencing.

    In fact, there's a ton of carry-over. I'm not sure if you've ever trained in Shotokan karate or something similar, but there was a point in my training (and most people's training) where you start transitioning away from the overly-formalistic stances and blocks of three-step sparring and five-step sparring and into the more fluid parries, deflections, and footwork of free sparring. You know what I found? I found at least as much in common, perhaps more in common, between this advanced Shotokan and epee fencing as between this advanced Shotokan and beginner's Shotokan. The footwork, distancing, timing, deflection, and parrying of epee all transitioned right over to empty-handed work.

    EDIT: Videos to illustrate.
    JKA Shotokan kumite, Imamura v. Shiina: [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8uW8sC6TCI"]YouTube- JKA IMAMURA vs SHIINA KUMITE[/ame]
    Olympic epee fencing, Nishida v. Inostroza: [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAPenBwwuo0"]YouTube- Beijing 2008 - MEI - L64 - Nishida JPN v Inostroza CHI - 1 of 2[/ame]
    Compare Imamura (on the left) to Nishida (on the right) and Shiina to Inostroza.

    The same is true with Bruce Lee. People are quick to point out that his footwork and fighting stance when at range, and his heavy emphasis on lead-arm and lead-leg stop-hits, doesn't look anything like Wing Chun, his "core" art. That's because it's not Wing Chun, but empty-handed fencing. If I was to describe Bruce Lee's interpretation of JKD, it'd be Wing Chun at close range and empty-handed epee fencing at longer range.

    Is a fencer likely to be able to apply his abilities in an empty-handed context if he has literally zero empty-handed training? He'd struggle, for sure, even though some of the distancing and timing and the like would almost certainly carry over to his otherwise-untrained punches. Overall, though, it's something that is best used in an empty-handed context when you've trained both in fencing and another art. But so what? Both sumo and aikido are unquestionably martial arts, yet both have a reputation of being hard to implement without cross-training. Once you have cross-trained, though, both have the potential to be very effective arts (ask Lyoto Machida about sumo and Koyo about aikido).

    But fencers don't hit hard!

    This statement makes me question just how long you trained in epee. The epee test weight of 750 grams is a bare minimum of what counts when you happen to tag a retreating fencer; it's NOT an ideal. If there's a maximum permissible force, I've never heard of it. If people actually strived to hit with only 750 grams, I probably wouldn't get ribs bruised every time I fence, a hit to the mask wouldn't make you see a flash of stars, and I wouldn't have had most of my left deltoid turn black from a single hit at the last fencing tournament I attended.

    Think of it this way: for USFA competition, a jacket must be able to stop a 35 kg hit, and you wear a plastron underneath the jacket for additional protection (I think another 35 kg). For FIE competition, a jacket must be able to stop an 80 kg hit, and you've got a plastron underneath that needs to be able to stop an additional 80 kg. (These forces are distributed over 0.05 square inches). If 0.75 kg was what fencers typically hit each other with, instead of a bare minimum for scoring purposes, do you really think that protective gear that could stop 160 kg of force in a 0.05 sq inch would be mandatory for FIE competition?

    As for 0.25 psi, I have no idea where you're getting that. I'm estimating that the tip of an epee has an area of about 0.05 square inches (diameter of 1/4 inch, I think), and the minimum weight of 750 grams equals 1.65 pounds. Thus, even ignoring the typical forces involved, the MINIMUM psi to score a point is not 0.25 psi, but 33 psi.

    As for "slender, somewhat flexible rod"--if you know how to hit someone with a rod that will flex after you hit, you know how to hit someone with a sharp rod that will go through them. The hit itself is exactly the same; all that matters is what happens to the kinetic energy after you've hit.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  20. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Wow. You sure hear a whole heck of a lot of stuff more than what I'm saying.

    Judaism is a religion, glad we agree on something.

    I never once said you weren't a Martial Artist, nor has my tone, attitude, nor commentary gone down that path, and I certainly have never said, done or expressed an opinion that you don't belong, or that your opinion is unwelcome. The closest I ever came was describing you as closed-minded.

    I have never said Fencing's skills are not useful, practical, or augment a person's skills. I actually ACTIVELY promoted the idea that they certainly can germinate thought and application in other Martial Arts. You keep making arguments to things I've never said.

    Everything you wrote under "Why did I post the Bruce Lee articles?" I completely agree with, except your statement "(I) ignore how much of the strategy and tactics and principles carries over to other arts."

    How on earth can you read what I wrote and possibly come to that conclusion?

    "(2) I find the entire thing incredibly patronizing. When someone says "I train with flexible practice blades for a sword fight that will never actually occur in the 21st century, whereas you train with flexible practice blades for the sake of sparring with those flexible practice blades, so I'm a martial artist and you're not," I find that to be a distinction without a practical difference, and I find the attitude behind the statement incredibly patronizing."

    Again, what? This is another imaginary argument. I would describe Fencing, just fencing, the skills taught in fencing, the tools used in fencing, no further introduction of any other skills, tools, techniques, weapons outside of Modern, Classic, Competitive Fencing as "Sportive Combat", not a "Martial Art". That is the beginning and my end of my statement.

    You've cross trained in other arts which gives you a suite of skills to be considered a Martial Artist. But a Martial Artist participating in a sport does not make the Sport a Martial Art.

    "35 kg hit"
    Forgive me if I erred on my math, but I'm not making sense of yours, either. 35 kg is pure force. Is that 35 kg across the with of the tip of the blade? 35 kg/cm?

    I did a quick scour and what I see is that FIE rules state the fabric must resist a force of 800 newtons. 800 newtons = 179.848 pounds-force. The tester is 3mm square, or .12 inches square. .12 X .12 = .0144 Square inches

    I was actually basing my initial math on 1/4" inch sqare, and simply forgot to square, but now that you've done the math correctly, thank you.

    So, 180 PSI across .0144 SI = 625 PSI across .05 SI (impressively tough stuff!)

    Now, the 750 gram-force minimum (yes, you are correct, I was gauging at the minimum, and that is not to say most hits land there, I just had no upper end to gauge by, my bad.) is across a .05 SI surface.

    750 gram-force = 7.35 Newtons = 1.65 pounds of force

    We are still missing the area in that equation however. Is it GF/SM, is it P/SI, is it GF/31.67mm and P/.05"? I don't know, my brain broke, lets just run the range...

    That force across one square inch divided into .05" pieces reveals each .05" SI area providing .0825 P/SI.


    1.25 P/.05 or 25 P/SI

    There, our math is corrected.

    So, based on some quick googling, it looks like the average untrained human punches at about 80 PSI, professional boxers average 600, and the top end of recorded punches is about 800-1300 depending on where you go. We know a fencer has to hit between 25 PSI and less than 625, so can split the difference and settle on 350?

    Good stuff, much higher than an untrained person, as we can expect, and probably not as hard as someone who is trained to hit.

    Interesting to know, and again...

    ....off the point of my post.

    Discard old vs. new
    Discard epee vs. smallsword
    Discard what may be lying around you should you find yourself in a fight behind Al's bar
    Discard "you're saying I'm not a Martial Artist"
    These were all arguments that you imagined I'd made, when I haven't.

    Discard all of the personal and approach this from a wholistic overview.

    Is a trained Fencer able to directly apply some or all of his skill to a Combat situation when not on a strip with a blade in his hand?

    Yes, some translate directly (timing, distance, speed, endurance, targeting, focus, attitude).

    Others translate as long as he has an object in his hand.

    Some would only translate if he has his particular training object in his hand, an object that, by design, is fairly non-lethal.

    As good a fencer as he may be, without some other study under his belt, his skills would certainly give him an edge over the average pedestrian, but I feel he is still, ostensibly, not trained in a combat art. He is an athlete with an athlete's skill, and his ability to fight his way through an encounter is long ways away from the Fencing strip.

    So, no offense meant, but I would still typify Fencing as Sportive Combat, a Combative Sport, and not broad enough in scope, deep enough in level of fight, nor "combative" enough to be considered a Martial Art.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010

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