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Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



FOREWORD: I am a sport fencer, so when I refer to "fencing" in this post I will be defaulting to modern Olympic fencing, not classical or historical fencing (more on those later). Feel free to discuss those, as well as kendo, wushu, etc. in this thread, but let's not let this devolve into a shitstorm of neckbeards arguing over whose school knows how to handle their hanzo steel better.

WHAT IS FENCING?
Fencing is a modern sport based on the age-old tradition of trying to stick a sharp pointy thing into another person, preferably without getting stabbed yourself in the process. It rewards cunning and finesse as much as it does raw speed and strength, so while it's a fun way to get or keep fit, you don't necessarily need to be running marathons or constantly chugging protein shakes in order to not get clobbered all the time.

Fencing as a sport is largely derived from training regimens for learning how to duel with smaller one-handed swords. I'm no historian, but in a nutshell, at some point people realised that the practise bouting they were doing was actually tons of fun in itself. Rules evolved for consistently determining winners and losers - and as they did the participants quickly learned the most effective ways of winning within those rules - which began to gently push fencing away from actual combat and into the realms of sport.
From there on, it's caught on all over the world and has been in every Olympic games since their modern revival.

There are three forms in modern fencing, each defined by their weapon.

FOIL
The foil was originally developed as a practise weapon for learning how to duel with a smallsword. The smallsword itself is a smaller, lighter descendent of the rapier, which rose to popularity through the somewaht dubious honour of being much easier to wear on your hip without accidentally bashing people in the leg or getting stuck in doorways.

Foils are designed for thrusting attacks and have a four-sided blade with no cutting edge - the name of the game is to stab your opponent with the point of your weapon. (There's a little button in the tip to detect hits, which needs 500g of force to activate.)

A hit anywhere on your opponent will halt the match, but will only score a point if it lands in the target area (torso and groin). The rules of foil are based around a concept called "priority" or "right of way", which is basically a way of working out who should be awarded points when both fencers end up simultaneously burying their swords in each other. Grossly simplified, the idea is that if you are being threatened, you need to remove the threat (make your opponent stop pointing their weapon at you, by parrying or some other means) before you yourself attack.

EPEE
The epee was developed a little later on in response to people wanting a practise weapon that more closely resembled a real smallsword than a foil. The epee is considerably heavier than the foil, sports a less flexible blade, and has a larger guard to better protect the hand and arm. Like the foil, you mist hit with the point, and the pressure to activate the button in the tip is heavier (750g - said to be the amount of force required to pierce the skin of an unarmored opponent).

By the time the epee came into being, duels were generally beight fought only to first blood rather than to the death, so the rules of epee reflect this in that the first fencer to land a touch anywhere on their opponent wins. If both fencers land a touch on each other within 0.04s, both get a point. As such, epee tends to be a bit slower than foil and sabre, with your opponent's hands, arms, feet and head being preferred targets simply because they're closer to you than their body is.

Funnily enough, this does resemble real duelling quite a bit sometimes. Here's some archive footage of two frenchmen spending a lot of time posturing defensively and pecking at each others' wrists, before one of the lands a hit to the wrist, winning the bout and making the other guy drop his blade in pain.

SABRE
Unlike the foil and epee, the sabre is a cutting rather than a thrusting weapon (although you can still stab with it). It was originally the weapon of choice for 18th century drive-bys, i.e. lopping people's heads off as you charge past on your horse, but came into more widespread use as a standard military weapon throughout Europe.

The modern sport sabre is much, much lighter than the cavalry sabres and cutlasses of days gone by. As such, it tends to be the fastest of the three weapons: a second is an awfully long time when you're fencing sabre. Entire first-to-5 bouts can be fenced within a minute of game time (not including stoppages), and while it can be confusing to watch it is definitely an exhilirating experience.

Sabre has similar rules to foil, having a concept of priority/right-of-way and a target area (everything above the waist). As it's an edged weapon, contact between the blade and your opponent's target area, whether cutting or stabbing, is considered a valid hit.

CLASSICAL AND HISTORICAL FENCING
As I've been touching on throughout this post, modern sport fencing is very different from actually fighting with swords, although there are some transferrable skills and techniques. The fact that you don't get horribly wounded led to the development of styles and techniques that, while they might be considered impractical, risky or even suicidal in a real swordfight, are very effective at winning within the rules of the game. Historical fencing splits from the family tree here, and aims to teach swordfighting as a martial art rather than a sport.

Classical fencing is closer to modern fencing, but instead aims to revive and carry on the style of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, before the advent of the electrical scoring system. I've heard it said that fencing is the second fastest sport after shooting, and as you might guess it can be pretty difficult trying to gauge whether a hit was valid or not with just your eyes. What the electronic scoring box did was allow hits to be detected that would otherwise have been missed by the naked eye. This is epitomised by the infamous "flick" in foil, where the flexibility of the blade is exploited by using a whip-like technique to make it curl right around a "correct" parry and still land on target. Classical fencing considers this sort of thing to be not in the spirit of things.

GETTNIG STARTED
If you think any of this sounds like it might be fun, I strongly encourage you to give it a go! The best place to start is to look for a local club and get in touch with them.

Fencing has a bad and undeserved reputation as an exclusive sport for weird rich people, but in reality it is pretty easy to get into. Most clubs are very welcoming to newcomers and will lend you all the equipment you need. If you have a quick hand and eye and a good bit of cunning, then you don't need to be the fittest person in the world, either (although there's no substitute for being in shape in the long run).

And, despite the aim of the game being to stab or slash your opponent, it boasts one of the lowest injury rates in the Olympic games - lower than table tennis. I guess those tables must have pretty sharp corners. Provided you wear the proper equipment, fencing is perfectly safe and it doesn't hurt when you take a hit.

The only word of warning I can give is that learning to fence will ruin your enjoyment of swordfight scenes in movies forever. Stop trying to hit the other guy's weapon and try to hit him instead, goddammit!




Anyway, discuss all things fencing here. I've been fencing on a relatively casual level for quite a few years now and have helped run a few beginners' courses - I'm not the most adept or experienced but I (hopefully) know a thing or two about things. I do know that there are more experienced people lurking around, so ask away and we'll see who comes out of the woorwork. Suggest anything you think I should add to this post; I'm about to get very busy with moving house but I'll edit, check and add some images, etc. to this post when I next have a chance.
(Also, who do I talk to about possibly getting the BLADE MASTER post icon for this therad?)

Allez!

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Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Gadamer posted:

Quite the opposite - hitting someone with the guard will gain you a card. Depending how far back you're going, flicks in foil aren't as much as a thing since 2005.
Not only will you get carded for this, but in foil (and epee), touching your opponent with the guard doesn't even send a signal to the scoring box. You have to close the switch at the tip of the weapon.

If anyone is actually using punching with the guard as a tactic, then I would hope their coach clamps down on that pretty loving hard. Otherwise, find another club where they actually fence properly. It's the equivalent of refs and coaches turning a blind eye to someone trying to use pro-wrestling moves in boxing lessons.

For anyone who's curious, here is done now information including circuit diagrams from Leon Paul (a major fencing equipment manufacturer):

Foil - http://www.leonpaul.com/acatalog/Armoury_Foil.html

Epee - http://www.leonpaul.com/acatalog/Armoury_Epee.html

Sabre - The reason I can't find a diagram for this is that it's brutally simple. The entire blade (and the guard too) is live, and hits are signalled by touching it on your opponent's target area.

On the subject of the flick - yes, it's a pretty dastardly tactic, but it is by no means easy to pull off. It is possible to parry them and they fail horribly if your distance isn't perfect.
Off the top of my head, the rules were changed relatively recently to discourage flicking, by increasing the duration that the tip switch needs to be closed for in order for the box to register a hit.
Also, if screw up a flick enough you'll end up clubbing your opponent with the blade and getting carded for that too.

Verisimilidude posted:

Practicing Olympic fencing with my school's club is quite an experience, and I find myself frustrated during matches. My biggest gripe is that some actions by my opponents can be downright suicidal, such as them flicking my torso while simultaneously running themselves directly into my weapon, and then they get the point because they hit first (this is foil). That's the name of the game though, so I can't complain.
Oh yeah, I can see how this would be frustrating for you. Someone charging in for a flick is showing off sport fencing's somewhat abstract nature at its finest

Just to explain the logic behind this, though - they would only win the point here if they started attacking you before you extended your weapon towards them.
In this situation the onus is put on the defender, the idea being that no matter how suicidal your assailant might be in their attacks, if you are being threatened you should ideally find a way to remove the threat rather than counterattacking and hoping that their bum-rush misses you.

I do agree that it's suicidal from a martial arts point of view, but so is counterattacking rather than defending, right?

Either that or fence epee instead, I'm terrible at it but double hits have saved my rear end many a time

Anyway, does anyone know of any decent android apps for fencing? Specifically, is there one out there that can generate and keep track of a poule and/or DE structure?
I have Riposte, which is great for reffing, but it lacks tournament features.

Also is that how you spell poule? I've never bothered to check.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 06:50 on Jan 9, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Fair enough, Verisimilidude, sounds like those foilists were being pretty drat sloppy on their attacks. I'm curious to hear more about how the rules/scoring system works in historical, if you want to elaborate...

Anyway, tell us a bit more about what you do! Does sidestepping/lateral movement play a big part, or do fights end up being fairly linear? How do you deal with stabbing attacks given that those weapons don't look flexible at all? And are there any weapon match-ups that are surprisingly balanced/unbalanced?

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



EmmyOk posted:

What weapon do you fence OP? I always spell it poules and it hurts me when people say pools
I'm mostly a foilist, but I do a bit of sabre and epee as well.

Tsunemori posted:

Question for OP and any other fencers out there: do you know anything about Torao "Tiger" Mori? He was a pretty pro Kendo player who moved to USA and studied fencing, and within 6 months came first or second in the national tournament. Ended up coaching or something. He said "kendo and fencing are exactly the same".

I have been doing kendo for 7 years, and upon trying (modern) fencing, I find it so different! In kendo, it's all about moving the body in first, and the hands/sword last. In fencing it seems to be the other way around, to establish "right of way". I'm guessing this comes from fencing being purely a sport.

Any comment on the "unrealism" of modern fencing, or what Torao Mori said?
Oh yeah, fencing is quite abstracted from actual dueling, and even more so from to-the-death combat.

There's a kendo club that uses a room at the gym directly above where I usually fence. I always see them on the way to training and am pretty curious about the structure, techniques and rules.

Establishing priority with the arm in fencing comes (I think) partially from the sport's origin as training for first-blood civilian duels. That is, the original aim was not normally about putting all your weight behind a killing blow.

I think it also relates a lot to the nature of the weapons, as well: range is king with a stabbing weapon like an epee, it makes more sense to put the business end of your weapon as close to your opponent while keeping your own soft and squishy bits as far away as possible from danger, regardless of whether the weapons are sharp or not. Better to miss your shot than to win but get wounded/killed in the process.

At least, I know from experience that if you "attack" by stepping forward with a bent arm, the other person will just extend their arm and you'll impale yourself long before your weapon gets anywhere near their body.

Of course, this being sport fencing, "long before" means 0.3s at most.

I've never really watched a proper kendo match, much less with good commentary, but from what I've seen a lot of the motions and concepts are pretty similar. Like, the motions for guarding (and riposting) versus strikes to the shoulders and head look almost identical to sabre fencing. The idea of priority seems quite similar, too, but my knowledge of establishing an attack in kendo boils down to "make it look like you really, really meant it".

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 23:08 on Jan 11, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Jeza posted:

I still find right of way dumb as heck, even though I spent most of my time with foil. Not much is more frustrating than stabbing somebody in the heart then have them hit you a little later, only to find they extended their arm fractionally before you. But it does make for flashier fighting I guess.

Anyway, Épée fo' lyfe. Simultaneous hits just makes more sense to me. In the end, having the most efficient system for stab and don't get stabbed means you win.
Well, I did read that epee came about from people wanting a weapon and rule set closer to real dueling. Plus, there's less gear and it breaks down a lot less often

Foil priority boils down to "if you are being attacked, you must stop the incoming threat before trying an attack of your own." It's a sensible rule of thumb no matter what weapon or discipline you're training. So to hammer this point home, if the attacker gets through unimpeded, the defender is considered to have hosed up and only the attacker's hit is counted.

Without an epee-style double hit, this definitely encourages more reckless attacking. The drawback of the double hit, though, is that it encourages reckless counterattacking in lieu of a proper defence.

Where the abstraction really takes off is in the timing: doubles in epee only count if the hits land within 40ms of each other, which I'm sure most HEMA types would consider bullshit. And in foil you only need to move an attacker's point off target for a fraction of a second for the defence to be considered valid.
And, as you pointed out, it can also only be a fraction of a second that decides who was attacking first and who should have been defending...

All this makes sense in terms of "don't get stabbed" theory, but given that nobody actually dies, the logical way to win is often to exploit these edge cases as far and hard as you can.

That said, as a foilist I quite like epee as it is really drat good for teaching me to do proper parries, and making sure I have good point control and distance.

On a related note, I really need to practise getting my point at just the right angle to get round the bell guard versus a straight attack, because seeing someone ram their forearm into your point and then fall short is p. cool

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 23:11 on Jan 12, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



kznlol posted:

I did Fencing in high school (I was a weird rich kid at a weird rich kid's school), and my abiding memory is that it did actually hurt (not enormously, but enough to be more than simply unpleasant) to get hit, even with foils, let alone epee/sabre. It is entirely possible we had badly fitted equipment and whatnot, though.

My first question is sort of a pedagogical one - our instructor was rather insistent that we used french grip weapons so that we'd use our fingers, not our wrists. As a rebellious idiot of a teenager, I disobeyed immediately and acquired a pistol grip, and after becoming much less of an idiot have always idly wondered if I should have listened to the instructor. My second question is more loosely related to teaching methods - I recall being taught various parries named in accordance with french numbers, and drilling them relentlessly, but the speed with which fencers engage in competition seems to preclude anything except pre-planned sequences or nearly reflexive reactions - how can engagements be more than a rather more complicated version of rock/paper/scissors when speeds are so high (I know they must be but it boggles my mind)?
Normally it shouldn't be more than "unpleasant" to get hit, but you might get a few bruises if your jacket is thin and especially if something goes wrong, mostly bad technique like the other guy "punching" in his/her attacks, or attacking from too close a distance.

Your preference of grip is really up to you, the "best" one is the one that feels most comfortable and functional for you. I think that your coach was right about it being good to start learning on a post grip, but so long as you remember to use your fingers rather than your biceps, it's no big deal.

You're right that there is a certain element of high speed rock paper scissors to fencing, but it's a lot deeper than that. Paper will sometimes beat scissors if it's pulled out at just the right time and distance, or if the paper is a bit thicker than normal and the other guy's scissors aren't up to scratch...

The parries that we drill into reflex are chosen because they work really well in a foil/epee/sabre duel. But that's just the basics, there are a lot more things you can do...

Think of it more like tennis or badminton, in that although there are a limited number of ways you can hit the ball, that doesn't mean the game is tactically shallow.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



EmmyOk posted:

If they are attacking from too close it's your fault the distance is hosed not theirs
You're right, but I was thinking more of those times when someone decides to lunge from extension distance. I guess you should still be getting the hell out of dodge if you see that coming at you, though.

Anyway, stabbing chat: to parry an attack to your outside lower line, do you guys prefer octave or seconde?

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Zeitgueist posted:

I'm going to drop because I don't want it to take over the thread, but I've found that more often than not the physicality that tends to matter in historical fencing is height and reach. I don't know if that's true of modern fencing or Kendo, I have no experience with either.

I've seen tall fighters with long range do very well against more skilled fighters. I'm not sure if a 6'5" guy versus a 5'2" person matters if the shorter person is a man or a woman. Presumably a tall women would have similar advantages(and I've seen that in action).
I won't harp on about it either, but in my experience the male vs female muscle differential is real - but it doesn't really become the deciding factor into you hit the higher competitive levels. The bit about muscly men having a speed advantage is true; I know a guy with thighs like goddamn tree trunks and his lunge is loving scary fast. But he trains a lot.

Skill, guile and reaction time are just as important as brute strength and speed if you just fence one or twice a week like I do. Reach too, especially for epee...

On a related note, I don't know if the same thing is emphasised as much on kendo, but leverage is a huge thing in fencing. If you contact the upper, more flexible part ("foible") of your opponent's blade with the lower, stronger part of yours ("forte"), the physics are such that they can never overpower you unless you gently caress up.
There's a neat little example I always like to show newbies: engage their forte to my foible, and then I try to move their weapon. Even with me using both hands, it's pretty much impossible for me to move theirs.

Incidentally, this is the other reason why we drill the same parries over and over again - they work. Parry properly and you have complete control over where your opponent's blade is pointing.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 13:53 on Jan 15, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Also, yes, left-handers are usually more difficult for most people to fence because everything's mirrored from what they're used to.
The power vs control thing doesn't come into play quite as much given the leverage stuff that I mentioned earlier, and also given sport fencing's origins in dueling to first blood rather than the death.
Given kendo's origins in cutting people in half with a samurai sword, needing to finish your attack in a position where you can't be hit sounds like a pretty sensible rule

There's definitely some asymmetry at work in my body, too. My right side (weapon arm) serratus muscles are a bit more developed, and if I am climbing up on to something I'll instinctively put my left leg on it first and use it to lift my body up, like coming up from a squat.

I don't have any sharpened swords, but I do have an old foil that I plan to sand clean, cut off the tip and blunt the end, then season with olive oil and use it to make giant kebabs.

Also, the princess bride is pretty much required viewing for any aspiring fencer. It's a pity, though, that the younger guys at my club don't know the insult swordfighting lines from monkey island...

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Stolennosferatu posted:

This all sounds pretty fun. What socal clubs do you recommend for a "never even done anything similar" beginner?
Yeah, it is tons of fun! I have no idea about California, but searching the net for the nearest club offering beginners' courses is probably the way to go. There are some clubs that have a super competitive mindset, but by and large fencers are pretty easy going and being a bit of a niche sport, they'll be keen to teach you.

I got into it myself through my university club, they are a pretty social bunch and didn't mind that I wasn't a student (I'd just graduated and figured that I should do some sort of sport now that I had done semblance of free time).

There's also an old joke that there aren't really any fencing clubs, just drinking clubs that have a fencing problem.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



BirdOfPlay posted:

I protect my flank with 2, because I can't count to eight.

Sabre joke.
Waaaait a minute, is that actually a sabre thing? My coach is a sabreur and he loves seconde for that. I find it a bit slower than octave, just because I have to spin my wrist from supinated to pronated.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Rent-A-Cop posted:

For someone who is more familiar with Hollywood sword fights its amazing how short and undramatic both HEMA and fencing bouts are. Both seem to end roughly half a second after the participants are in range of each other.

I'm sure for the knowledgeable there's a lot of skill on display but if there is it's happening too fast for me to follow.
As I mentioned before, next time you see a Hollywood sword fight, think about whether the people are trying to hit each other, or just trying to hit each other's weapons...

This does bring up an interesting point, though - I've yet to see a really well-commentated fencing match. There was some token effort made at the last Olympics to explain what was going on, who the participants were and point out any particularly interesting moves, etc.
If someone did decent commentary, I'd watch a lot more fencing, kendo, HEMA etc.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



ScratchAndSniff posted:

I've been a relatively competitive fencer for longer than I care to say, and I've been teaching part-time for a few years. If there's any interest in the professional and/or high level competition side of things, I can tell answer quesions and tell some stories about the world of fencing.
Sure, I'd love to hear any stories you have! I started too late and don't train anywhere near enough to compete, but I'm curious as to what goes on at those levels.


quote:

I have also personally used almost every single kind of epee blade and most major brands of equipment on the market, so I can answer questions about gear as well.
What's your opinion on the SR71? A couple of my friends have those and they feel as bendy as foil blades. I have terrible point control, so I went for a SM blade that feels positively broomstick-like in terms of stiffness. Was this a good idea?

quote:

Once I have identified that guy, I can expect them to do something inherently unsafe I specifically told them not to do by the time the intro class ends. They may or may not cry when I yell at them for it. They (almost) never sign up for the next level.
Oh god, there's always one of those guys. The last beginner's intake we did at my old club, That Guy decided he was going to do a combat roll while holding a foil.

quote:

I also spent some time learning, competing, and teaching the historical side of things, but not so much these days. If anyone is interested with that community, I can explain the major differences between it and sport fencing, and why sport fencing was my personal preference in the long run.
Not a question about the community, but how does the priority/scoring system work in historical? And I can see that you wouldn't expect to come out of a bout without a few bumps and bruises, but how do you deal with thrusts/stabs? The weapons for historical don't look particularly flexible...

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



ScratchAndSniff posted:

I have had good luck with clubs, but at one point I taught in what I believe is the Worst Club in America. It had a bunch of warning signs I stupidly ignored for too long, since they were paying me. Make sure you run away if you see:

People fencing without masks

An on-site equipment store which the coach requires students to shop from, exclusively.

Clearly damaged or nonexistent rental equipment.

(I can give more details/stories if anyone wants.)
Holy gently caress, that's absolutely terrible. Tell us more

Even the more broke-rear end student clubs I've been to have had decent, safe spare gear for beginners to use, free of charge, so hopefully equipment won't be an issue.

I'm pretty short myself, but it's not usually much of a problem, surprisingly. In priority weapons (foil, sabre) it's a matter of seeing a counterattack coming and taking your opponent's blade, pushing it out of the way as you close distance for the hit. In epee, just remember that everyone's blade is the same length, so even lanky people are as vulnerable to getting hit in the hand or arm as the rest of us)

[Edit]I have tried fencing with two sabres once, and having that sort of speed and coordination is very bloody hard. The dominant tactic ended up being having one hand dedicated to defence/sweeping your opponent's blades away, and the other for attacking only.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 00:55 on Jan 21, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Tsunemori posted:

Here's a question which I hope isn't too rude.

In general, how fit are fencers? I'm asking because the last club I went to (as a beginner) had a very strange number of people with... odd body shapes. Most of them were either thin/lanky teenagers, or older men with beer guts (or some sort of disproportionate lumps). There were maybe two or three adults with athletic bodies. The coaches didn't look too fit. Is this normal for many advanced, non-competitive fencers? Or is this an early warning signal to look for a different club?
Haha, that's an interesting one. Chances are, those lanky guys are a lot quicker on their feet than they look, at least in short bursts.

Strength isn't a big thing in fencing, so the lanky guys can get by provided they have a decent level of fitness. If you have correct technique, it is straight up impossible for a stronger opponent to win by overpowering you with sheer strength.
You can also make up for not being in perfect shape by being experienced, cunning and skilful with your hands, which is where the beer guts come in.

That said, I also know a few people who, despite having the aforementioned body shapes, are actually pretty fit. One of the better epeeists at my old club was a bit barrel-bodied, but he had more endurance than most of us on the piste.

One thing you will get with fencing, though, is awesome thighs. Probably the same with kendo, too, come to think of it. I'm pretty weedy myself, but I can squat and lunge a lot.

There is still no real substitute for being in good shape, though, so at higher levels you'll see lots of people with really massive thighs.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 10:18 on Jan 22, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



I just went to my first session for this year - we just warmed into it with some free bouting, my legs feel surprisingly good today.

The foilists at my blog seem to have an irrational fear of epee, I must find a way to fix this.

Anyway, I have a question: what are the main differences between the French, German and Hungarian styles of fencing foil? I've been told that the Hungarians tend to have a low blade angle when en garde, the Germans have their tips much higher in the air, and the French are somewhere in between. How true is this, and what's the point of these differences?
I'm guessing that lower blade angles mean that your point is on target more often tan not, but there must be more to it than that.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Cool. Now that I finally have internet at home, I need to go back and watch all the video links everyone's posted.

So what does work best at the moment in competition-level stuff? I don't have a finger on the pulse, but have heard stuff about foil matches beginning to resemble epee, with heavy use of body evasion and counterattacks.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Eh, I've always been a member of very small clubs (<10 regulars) and have never got bored of it. Maybe that's just me, though.

I'd say definitely get back into it, and bring your wife too. I find it really helps if there are one or two people there who are on a similar skill level to yourself - it makes for some really good, close bouts and you'll be improving at a similar rate, which hopefully means continually looking for new tricks and techniques to improve your game and get one up on them.

One of my friends from my club is like this - we're both a similar height, and there's a constant arms race between us. A while back he figured out that he's younger and faster than me, and got into the habit of pulling out a mean duck/counter to octave. Then I realised that I could bait it out and reliably hit his front shoulder. So he's just started responding to this by waiting for me to do that and then trying for a prime bind/opposition thing and then moving in really close, because I'm crap at infighting. And so the great circle of life continues...

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



ZombieLenin posted:

I was friends with a fencer back in the day. It was funny because he's pass out on my couch and start fencing in his sleep...
This I have never seen before, but I pity his girlfriend.
However, if you are ever hosting a party with fencers around and anyone turns up with foam sabres from the dollar store, for god's sake move all the breakables into a locked room. Before I started fencing, my pattern of behaviour when drinking was normal -> talkative -> sleepy -> oh god why did I do this to myself I'm never drinking again; now, there's a good period of gently caress YEAH LET'S FENCE in between "talkative" and "sleepy".

Also, it sucks that the Leon Paul sale was only a 1-day deal. I live in New Zealand and it's a pain in the rear end getting gear; I wouldn't mind a new glove, but it's not worth the shipping for me to order one on my own and I couldn't organise enough other people to combine my order with in time.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 11:41 on Feb 1, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Turtlicious posted:

So I just broke my girlfriend's father's 41 year old Itallian blade, and I'd like to replace it so it's a functional sword again, but when we took apart my girlfriends blade with a french grip, the bit the grip is supposed to slide onto looks different, like it tapers more where as her french grip barely tapers at all.

What should I be looking for or what keywords do I search for?

Should I just buy a new blade and if so what would you guys recommend?
What kind of weapon is it? I don't think I've ever seen any blade/grip compatibility problems (other than sawing a bit off the threaded tang to fit a pistol grip), but that's a really old blade so things have likely changed since it was new.

If the shapes aren't too different, you could carefully modify the old grip and guard with a file/etc to fit a modern blade. I don't know much about sabre and epee blades, but I have a BF maraging foil blade from Uhlmann that I like a lot.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



BirdOfPlay posted:

That's silly, but drunk refs are worse. We have to discuss touches, actions, and rules several times during the night of drinking (AKA, every night). Including for body demonstrations.

As an aside, are there any other active refs here?
Do you reprimand people if they try to hand you a snack or drink with a bent arm?

I'm just a casual scrub, will probably be one those beer belly types when I get older. In a club I am basically Brock from pokemon: I can teach some basics, and once the newbies work out how to defeat my onix (counter-six bind) and geodude (beat attack with double disengage) they're ready to venture out into the world and face some real fencers.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Oh yeah, I don't mean that I just run around curbstomping beginners at every chance, I was trying to illustrate my level of skill in an average free bout. The point where a really keen beginner begins to consistently beat me seems to be about the same time as they begin to make headway in competitions...

Teaching/lessons is a different matter - that blog looks pretty awesome, by the way.

Again with the free bouting, as a general rule I try not to use anything vs beginners that they haven't seen before. Unless I specifically want to practise something myself that I'm terrible at (e.g. prime), in which case I'll tell them what I'm planning on doing beforehand.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



GlassLotus posted:

It's a Spanish grip foil, not Italian. Don't listen to the turtle, he lies :P What he meant was it was made in Italy, not that the grip is Italian.

The Spanish tang is a bit longer than the French, meaning my unbroken french blade wouldn't work with the Spanish grip and pummel because it's too short in the first place. Turt settled on getting a Spanish offset sword but I don't know what we'll do with my dad's sword. I kind of want to mount it on a wall or something but I really liked the grip so I'm not sure.
Can you post a photo? I'm curious as to exactly what the differences are and to see why you can't fit the new blade to the old grip... for that matter I don't think I've seen a Spanish grip before, either.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Wow. I do know one guy who went to the trouble of getting some kind of moulding compound to add bits on to his pistol grip to make it mould to his hand better - I have no idea if it actually helps, or if he's been given any stick about it at competitions.

I just looked up Spanish grips on google and that's some funky poo poo. I read that they were illegal due to being able to pommel with too easily, but I see that happening all the time with post grip epees?

Gripchat, I have a foil with one of I have one of these and it's really, really comfortable. Unfortunately I accidentally bought another one that I thought was the same, but turned out to be a weird version that has a completely flat face on top where you put your thumb. It feels a bit narrower between the thumb and forefinger which makes me feel like I need to pinch harder to control it, but I guess some people must like that.

BirdOfPlay, what's the worst thing you've ever had to card someone over equipment-wise?

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 12:55 on Feb 5, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



thrakkorzog posted:

That was actually a pretty impressive fight scene. The actors actually look like they know what they were doing when handed a sword. 9/10. They pulled off some decent parrys and ripostes.

The usual complaint against most sword fighting scenes in movies or in plays is that the actors are usually more focused on hitting the other actors sword, instead of trying to stab someone, which is kind of the goal of fencing.
Ditto. I was about to ridicule the pony avatar but this is actually surprisingly close to an actual fencing bout, there's an absolute minimum of one guy waiting for the other to pirouette around and do a long, slow swing so he can jump over it or suchlike. Just plenty of trying to get the pointy bit into the other guy while avoiding their one.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Zeitgueist posted:

You don't get dual wield with a dagger at 20?

Should have gone historical skill tree.
But if you dual wield with a heavy weapon like an epee, your equipment weight goes over the threshold for the fast roll- er, I mean fleche.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Eh, I don't mind people doing it to me, so long as it's not on every point, somewhat respectful and genuine - an actual celebration rather than an attempt to sway the ref. Because sometimes you land a hit that feels so god drat good, it's hard not to do something (in my case it's usually a short 'ha!', just nonspecific happy/satisfied vocalisation).

Although the opposite tends to happen to me when I do sabre, as I'm terrible, I normally end up looking confused at the ref waiting for them to explain what just happened to me.
[edit]Isn't bost sabreurs charging in, hitting each other, then turning to the ref with a fistpump and a HOWZAT par the course?

I guess stepping before swinging makes sense with a big heavy weapon; the biggest reason behind arm before legs with a foil, epee or sport sabre is that your number 1 priority is to get the pointy bit as close to your opponent as possible while keeping your squishy bits away from theirs. Hence, max your range out.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Eh, I figured that the weirdness in that demo video was because they seemed to be more concerned about just showing off the bladework, and also possibly worrying about posing for the cameras.

I'm looking forward to watching that video with commentary - there is just not enough well commentated stuff out there, whether it's making it accessible for non fencers, or explaining the complexities and more technically impressive actions to scrubs like myself.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



So, uh, how do you deal with hitting/getting hit in historical rapier? Those things don't look like they bend much.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Brutal. The scoring system sounds fair, though, considering what you're trying to achieve. What ways do people try to game the system, out of curiosity? It seems to have just enough subjectivity built into it to weed out that sort of stuff (kendo is similar in this respect, too, isn't it?)

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Kim Jong ill posted:

Would sport fencing be better if it weren't straight back and forth in a line? (IMO this rule basically precludes any comparisons being made with a martial art, because holy hell restricting your movement to one dimension is dumb as poo poo in the context of combat).
You have a bit of freedom in being able to move laterally - the piste is wide enough to allow enough room to sidestep a thrust if you really want to, and at times doing so can be golden. But any further width isn't really necessary, because it takes way longer for your opponent to circle around you than it does for you to simply turn in place and face them. Like, you could probably turn at least 180 degrees in a single step, whereas the guy trying to sidestep around you would have to move several metres at least.

It's not exactly empirical evidence, but I was in a bout once with wireless packs and no piste boundary, and this was exactly what happened when my opponent tried to circle around me. The fight still ended up being effectively linear, just with the direction of that line changing sometimes.
I did win, but in retrospect instead of fencing normally, I should have sprinted out of the room and ambushed them from behind the doorway; that would have been much more fun.

[edit] Wouldn't foil without target and epee with priority end up being the same thing, aside from the weapons?

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 10:18 on Feb 14, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Kim Jong ill posted:

Circling around my opponent (I practise HEMA) isn't something that I'm ever trying to do. What I am trying to achieve with lateral movement is to momentarily change the line of engagement, with myself attacking along it and hopefully catching my opponent defending either on the old line or somewhere in between. If my opponent isn't throwing a crossing cut along the line to meet my blow then there is a very good chance it wont be effective and I'm going to land my cut. Likewise, when being attacked I can step laterally to remove myself from the line of attack which will make any parry I employ far more likely to be effective and place myself in a good position for a counter attack.

Keeping yourself on the line while throwing crossing cuts (i.e. a cut aimed at the opponent but with the intention of meeting their blow, ideally along the line of engagement), and conversely trying to take your opponent off the line when attacking, is a very important part of properly defending yourself and creating openings for attack, respectively. Just as taking yourself off the line is important when parrying. I know I probably sound like I'm repeating myself, but lateral footwork is so important in properly executing techniques in HEMA. An extension of that is you need to be be able to move in whatever direction is required at the the time, so being able to make one lateral movement right before having to go left isn't enough. Also it's worth noting that rarely is a movement purely lateral in a sideways sense, you'll be stepping forwards or backwards along a diagonal depending on the situation.
Makes sense. But how far sideways are you needing to move to gain that positional advantage? I can't speak for sabre, but in foil and epee at least, you can definitely do the same with a very modest amount of sideways distance, and the piste is plenty wide enough for that.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



I won't argue about its effectiveness, but that footwork diagram looks like 17th century timecube.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Come to think of it, I have seen a few people who like to gravitate to one side of the piste, presumably to change the angle between them and their opponent (provided they stay in the centre). But, as with my experience in that pisteless bout, it's easy for their opponent to cancel this out by turning or shifting sideways to match them.

So, my view is that yeah, linearity in modern fencing is pretty arbitrary, but doesn't matter all that much because in offence, it's near trivial for someone to turn or also sidestep and keep the bout linear. In defence, the piste is wide enough to sidestep and dodge a thrust or run past your opponent. So it doesn't make too much difference for us, although I can see how it'd be different for longsword/buckler/etc.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Sport fencing has me perfectly prepared to defend myself against a mugger, provided that we're in a well-lit narrow alleyway about 15 metres long, with a nice flat and even surface, that the mugger and i are both armed with identical smallswords, and that the swords are completely blunt so we can go to a best of fifteen. Ideally there'd be an experienced referee passing by at the time as well who could help us out.

In actual fact, though, fencing has more likely made me completely loving useless in a real fight.
I was once walking home from a bar with a couple of friends and some guy jumped out at us from a doorway (he was drunk and thought it'd be a funny way of getting our attention to ask if we had a light for his cigarette).
One of my friends put his fists up, the other flinched. Completely off reflex, I went en garde in six, with empty hands, no less

[Edit] correct answer in post below

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 03:32 on Feb 19, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Strom Cuzewon posted:

I tried karate a few years ago, and learned two facts.

1)If you slip into a fencing stance you'll get your feet kicked out from under you.

2) parry carte is really ineffective against fists
Pffft. What kind of uncultured ruffian would resort to fighting with his bare fists? Good god, man, that would mean one might have to actually touch one's assailant.

Actual content: I'm thinking of getting a new glove soon, does anyone have any recommendations? I used to have an Uhlmann "champion", which was comfortable if a little thin, and now have a Leon Paul "advanced" 350N, which is weakening at one of the thumb seams after only about a year of use. I haven't tried Allstar or FWF, are they any good?

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



ScratchAndSniff posted:

Allstar and Uhlmann are the same brand with different colors, and they are my favorite. A guy at my club had an FWF glove which he really liked, but it was in tatters in less than a year. He tended to take a lot of hand hits, though.

If you don't mind the duct tape look, it can usually extend the life of a glove for a while.
Interesting, thanks. FWF have some buzzy looking gloves with some sort of gel inserts, have you ever seen those?

Also, I dabble in sabre a little, how do the combination gloves work and are they worth considering? It would just be convenience for me, though - I don't normally do competitions, but at the same time I don't mind paying a bit more to have something nicer/stronger.

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



El Spamo posted:

Really though, if you intended to compete in a weapon it pays to get the equipment designed for it. Then again, I fence epee which is pretty much the flannel-wearing rednecks of the fencing world.

Foilists are hipsters and sabreuers are the local community theater.
Nah, I'm not competitive, it's more that there are a few sabreurs at my club who drag me into it sometimes, just messing about. We have plenty of club cuffs that I can borrow, and I prefer epee to sabre anyway, so maybe I'll get a nice ordinary glove.

Did I tell you the joke about the sabreur?
Never mind, there's not much point to it.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 23:56 on Feb 23, 2015

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Rodrigo Diaz posted:

It seems like you have enough space to incorporate footwork (passes, steps) in your cuts. I think that would be more valuable than standing still. Sort of like shadow boxing.
Yep, you're right, but chances are here that they're deliberately focusing on just getting the arm movement right. Generally, when I'm practising I'll do the same for a bit, then repeat but with footwork added as well.

This was posted on a friend's club facebook feed a while back - brutal stuff. This is probably why the Russians are so good... I've been wanting to try it at my club but it might take some more convincing.
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=579478288787492

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 10:13 on Mar 3, 2015

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Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Verisimilidude posted:

From my experience you're unlikely to get legit rapier fencing experience with the SCA. They're probably fine as a whole, but you're less likely to get actual martial training. I suppose it's better than nothing, but I would keep looking. And who knows, like Zeitgueist said they could be one of the (few) SCA groups that practices actual fencing.
Hey, if you want to do that write-up on historical fencing, I'll add it into the OP or something.

How much standardisation is there with weapons in historical? It seems like there's a hell of a lot of variety; do you get a lot of choice in terms of weight and proportions?

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