Discussion in 'Weapons' started by samuri-man, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    well you see yur defination of a martial art is based on the philosophical gogosh that is often dumped on to MA to make it seem like its a good thing for smal children to learn. I know several eastern MAist that lack the same common courtesy that many olympic fencers lack.
    I am one of those peopl who doesnt think that the ART in martial arts is the extra bits like bowing and humility and such.
    I veiw a martial art as a system of technques designed to potentially inflict hamr nto someone else. The ART in it is the skills learned IMO.
    Can Olympic fencing be used to kill and maim? yes id rathe not be on the other side of an epee,ive handled a few when I was doing re enactment fighting. ould you want to get hit by a semi rigid unblunted piece of steel?
  2. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    It's not just informed by the philosophical "gogosh" dumped on MA. From what I've seen many current MA's are linked to philosophy and tradition for better or for worse. Whether people choose to ignore those traditions is another thing but olympic style fencing as it's practiced doesn't really have them.

    I agree with your definition of MA's on a simplified level. But, your definition for including fencing is too general as many other activities and sports can be used to kill and maim whether their origins were martial or not e.g. hockey.

    I've been hit with an epee many times and it can sting but unless you were unlucky enough to be hit in the eye or throat it is unlikely to do any lasting damage to you. If it snaps and becomes more rigid then that's a different story - broken epee's, foils & sabres are really dangerous.

    I can see that fencing has a lot more in common with MA's than many other sports. But to give a yes or no answer as to whether olympic style fencing is an MA I would still have to say no.

  3. Noontidal

    Noontidal Popeye

    And you would be wrong, however, that is simply your opinion. If you use the same logic for say olympic TKD, or Kendo, or any oriental weapon skills we could safely say none of them are actually MA.
  4. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Is that just your opinion or a scientifically proven fact? ;). I answered your original post with some counter arguments so you'll have to do a bit better than just this statement :D

    I was quite specific and narrow with my definitions of fencing and martial arts as I understand them. On that basis, fencing was a martial art, some types of fencing still are a martial art but olympic style fencing as practised now isn't. I admit it's a bit pedantic but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm wrong ;)

    Yoda's articles have covered fencing's relevance to MA's. What about the other way round? Demonstration of a lot of particular MA skills relevant to fencing but not already taught within fencing would strengthen your case.

  5. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I'm pretty broad with my definitions. But yes, I consider fencing a martial art. And I draw a distinction between it and, say, cricket like this: A cricket player may well do just fine in a fight because of his fitness and whopping great wooden bat. But cricket itself has an aim beyond physically overcoming an opponent. Scoring is achieved by pursuing a primary goal. Same with rugby. Pummeling the other guys is a secondary goal to getting the ball where it needs to be to score.

    In fencing, the primary goal is to 1) land blows that would be analogous to lethal blows and 2) defend yourself against such. It's concerned exclusively with the physical conflict between participants.

  6. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Hi Stuart, nice to see you here :D . Your post is all true and indisputable. However, my central point is that olympic fencing has become too abstract to be of direct use in martial (i.e. combat or self defence) situation. I think you guys take the view that olympic style fencing's martial origins and the aims of the game are sufficient for it to be an MA. I say that despite it's origins and applicability of much of fencing to MA's it does not not have enough direct applicability in a martial situation for it to be an MA.

    I think I've waffled enough on this topic but I'm interested to find out more about how fencing and MA's can influence each other. It would be nice to see what the originator of the thread thinks as well.

    Last edited: Dec 22, 2004
  7. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Hey mate! I saw you'd posted on fencing and figured, after our chat on my fencing thread, that I'd swing by and check it out.

    Absolutely. I can't find any fault with your reasoning. And, at the end of the day, your standard for saying "no" is at least as valid as mine for saying yes. I say "at least" because 1) your argument that it couldn't readily be used in reality is pretty damn compelling in and of itself and 2) you've got the years of experience to back it up.

    Reading different people's responses, I started thinking of this as a big archery target. Some styles fall a lot closer to the bullseye than others. (Ironically, I'd put archery pretty far out on the periphery.) I think I'm describing my criteria for fencing being on the target at all, despite it not being terribly close to the bullseye.

    But you make a good point.

    I think the concept of "drawing" was more fleshed out in fencing than I've been exposed to in other arts. Leaving a line of attack open as a lure so you can trap your opponent and counter accordingly.

    Discuss. ;)

  8. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Good post. Whether fencing is in or out depends on your starting point and assumptions. I'm definitely being pedantic and seeing how close fencing is to the bullseye ;)

    Discuss fencing? Now you're talking! As you say, the luring of attacks is a central part of many fencers games. It's called second intention (for obvious reasons). The particular flavour I like is counter time. Start an attacking move, draw a stop hit and then finish the attack. Timing is crucial and if you get it wrong you land out of time and lose the hit. Get it right and your opponent doesn't even parry your blade. This doesn't apply so much in epee where right of way has no meaning but it still get's used occasionally and would be relevant to MA's.

    I think you're right that fencing will have developed this more than many weapon based MA's but complicated preparations carry the risk of failure and there aint no right of way in a real scrap!

  9. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Oh I don't think you're being pedantic. No worries. :)

    Draw a stop hit, eh? So you're not trying to induce him to parry your blade. You're trying to get him to attack you. (Yeah, I guess that's what makes it drawing as opposed to being a feinted attack by you.) Interesting.

    Bruce Lee talked extensively about drawing as one of his... five(?) methods of attack. ABD (attack by drawing). Not surprisingly, he lifted it from fencing. I haven't done enough of his jun fan stuff to see it used extensively in empty hand. And I haven't encountered a lot of ABD stuff in other styles either. Lots of feints, but not much drawing.

    What do you think the advantages are over feinting, for example? Or even over a simple attack? (That one's more obvious, but for the sake of being thorough... )

    No question. I think fencing is fairly culture specific, in that a lot of its maneuvers are tailor made for conventions and tools used at a very specific time. You couldn't, for example, use a counter-four parry with an umbrella to defend yourself against a pool cue, for example. Heavier weapon + no pointy end renders that movement much less useful.

  10. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    Good argument, but you cant say any Oriental weapons skill, even though I know you are making a generalisation here. You obviously know very little about the FMA, yes it has a sporting side to it, but generally speaking as you are it is far from a sport and is more MA than what many other systems that are called MA.

    Just had to point that out, sorry.


  11. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    I also asked this question (is fencing an MA?) to three of my sabre fencing buddies. They're very experienced and two of them have competed at international level. They all say fencing is an MA :cry: - but didn't give me any reasons why :confused:. Looks like I'm in a real minority here!

    So, after some reflection I still think that in the context of self defence, FIE type fencing is definitely not an MA. No question in my mind. In the broader context of the study of techniques and moves relevant to the entire sphere of fighting (with or without weapons) then it probably can be called a martial art. I still think it's too refined and abstract to be called a martial art though........

    To answer Stuart's question on feinting vs counter time vs simple attacks. You need all three in fencing and when and where you use them depends on your skill or preference and that of your opponent in defending against certain attacks. I would hesitate to use counter time in a real fight situation as you are inviting an opponent to attack and then continuing to attack him without defending yourself. In fencing the attacker would have right of way and the president and the scoring apparatus are on your side. In a real fight you would probably both end up with wounds. For a slow and or unskilled opponent, simple direct attacks should suffice. For a faster and or more skilled opponent feinting to draw a certain parry and then deceiving that parry could be used. Again I would probably only attempt one deception rather than the multiple deceptions often used in foil.

  12. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Okay. Question about second intention then. You attack (establishing right of way). Rather than parrying (to claim right of way) and countering (to score), the opponent opts to simply attack instead. Is he banking on hitting you and evading your attack simultaneously? Because if you both hit, the point goes to you because you established right of way. Correct?

  13. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    What you describe is a stop hit and he is counting on hitting you 'in time'. Stop hits are not necessarily second intention as they're usually simple moves into an oncoming attack. Second intention is any move that has a feint first. Uusually it's a feint attack to a certain area of the target that draws a certain parry. That parry can then either be deceived with a disengage or the attacker can wait for the riposte from the parry and then do a counter parry and counter riposte :) Sometimes fencers can get in a ding-dong pattern of parry-riposte-counter-parry-counter-riposte until someone either hits or changes the moves.

    Ideally for a stop hitter there would only be one light - his. That would occur either because the attackers point never landed or because it landed after the period that the electronic box allows for simultaneous hits. However, if there are two on target lights then it's up to the president to decide whether the stop hit was in time (before the final attacking action) or out of time (the original attackers hit was in-time). Whether an action occurred within a period of fencing time can be very hard to gauge and is an endless source of arguments at competitions as to whose move was in time or not.

    I wasn't completely clear before on counter-time. Counter-time hits are where the attacker draws a counter attack (usually a stop hit) and then either continues with his attack in time or parries and then ripostes. Either way, the attacker is drawing the counter attack.

    What I'm referring to here is in relation to foil although some of it would also be relevant to epee and sabre.

  14. TheMightyMcClaw

    TheMightyMcClaw Dashing Space Pirate

    Considering that fencing evolved from training for armed duels, I would say it still has enough martial aspect to be called a martial art. Even though it's no longer the main goal of the art (do to stupid laws against dueling -_-), if you gave a fencer a sword and told him to cut somebody, he would be well prepared to do so. And then there are those SCA folk, who focus on more "historical" swordplay.
  15. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    (Happy new year, by the way!)
    I can see why people question the martialness and the artfullness of olympic fencing, but I have big problens how people can say that it DEFINATELY isn't a martial art. I can only recomend you to scout out a olympic fencer, give him a light ash-stick and go a few rounds with him. My experience as a longswordfencer is that I have far greater problems beating an olympic fencer than a katana-fencer, and that's perhaps why I DEFINATELY define it as a martial art (allthough I can see that it isnt' as close to the "10" in the target as wresteling/mma/tkd).

    Re-enactment and theatrical fighting is IMO not a martial art, as it theese are systems meant to illustrate combat and who -to some extent- makes the performer worse in actual/realistic combat, whereas the sportsfencers have made their weapons softer and increased the protection, in order to go full-contact, somthing that will make them well suited to real fights if given sharp and scemiflexible foils.

    To define only self defence as martial arts will ultemately rule out a load of styles. Fior di Battaglia by Fiore del Libere, for instance (a duel master from the 15th century) -can by that definition not be defined as a martial art, as most of the pepople practicing it today don't do it to become better streetfighters, and since the weaponry he trains is out of date (only sabbing techniques taught, as it is asumed that everybody wears gambersons when outdoors, etc.)
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2005
  16. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Very good points but I'm still in pedantic mode :D so..............

    Interesting observations on the usefulness of fencers with an ash stick. But surely a fencer with an ash stick is not fencing even though the skills he is using have been derived from it.

    I agree re-enactment is not an MA as it's staged and choreographed to look good rather than trying to score points or train to injure.

    Agreed that self defence is a narrow definition of MA's and if I move away from that then most of my arguments about fencing not being an MA weaken considerably :cry:

    Within FIE style fencing the wepaon that's most martial is probably epee followed closely by sabre and finally foil. Foil is my main weapon which is probably why I took the fencing isn't an MA stance.

    Happy New Year n'all.

  17. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Funnily enough, I was thinking the other day that fencing actually meets the criteria put forward by a lot of MMA and realist types. Live sparring against a fully resisting opponent in a competitive environment. Granted, I'm not sure what "full-contact sparring" would mean in the context of fencing. But still, in a lot of ways, I think fencing actually fulfills requirements that many more traditionally perceived "martial arts" might not.

    Another log on the fire. :)

  18. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    All true. (can you hear me from inside the hole I dug for myself? :D)

    The key point is "full-contact sparring". If you fence by the rules in any weapon, deliberate hard hitting is not allowed and it's not necessary to win a fight. Just touching your opponents jecket with light or moderate force is enough. I've been hit hard and got bruises but nothing worse. I've only ever seen one fencer knocked out from a hit to the mask with the handle of his opponents weapon (accidental). I've never seen any broken bones in 20 years of doing it.

    However I've seen 2 people break their hands in gradings in Choi Kwang Do in the last 3 years and it's not even a competitive martial art! I think this aspect is one of the cases against fencing being an MA.

  19. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm not sure if it's been stated, but there are a few other forms of fencing aside from Olympic/FIE. While the SCA is neither very historical or martial, other groups like the Assoc. For Historical Fencing have more martial rules

    For a 'rogues gallery' of some of the better teachers, see the IMAF

  20. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    As they say in my country, "better you than me." :)

    Granted. But I don't see that as a limitation of the format. It's a condition of the weapon. If a foil, epee, or sabre is an analog for an actual sword, you wouldn't be pummeling with the sword either. In other words, the level of contact used in modern fencing isn't that far removed from the level of contact used in the real affair. Or is it? (Not a rhetorical question)

    It may not sound like it, but I do see where you're coming from. Actually it was one of my reasons for fizzling out on fencing. I didn't feel like it was really a "test your mettle" kind of affair. And, for whatever reason (male ego deficiencies?), I actually missed the hardship of getting pummeled.


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