Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Timmy Boy, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. Cuchulain82

    Cuchulain82 Custodia Legis


    Fencing is tons of fun, and it is a sport that is very martial. The lines of attack, the footwork, the ability to know your range- these are all very helpful skills to have. However, as someone who is an experienced fencer and who is now studying kali, I feel safe in saying that fencing isn't a viable form of self defense. Think of it this way- imagine if you studied karate with the restrictions of only being able to move back and forth on a 3 foot wide strip, and you were not able to hit harder then a touch so light your opponent could barely feel it. Yes, it would be combative, but would it really be self defense? If you think it is self defense, then let me ask this- is it self defense to the same degree as boxing or MT? Obviously, I don't think so. With that said, I love fencing, think it is fun, and would encourage anyone to do it.

    Like Cudgel said, fencing on TV doesn't work well because it is so fast. I mean, you really don't know how fast it is to non-fencers until you try to watch it. What you see when watching olympic fencing on TV is two people, in white outfits with masks on and wires coming out of their backs- why wires you ask? Because the touches come so fat that electronic buzzers are necessary to judge who has touched first.

    These contestants will continue waiting around for 5-15 seconds at a time, followed by an explosion of action and then someone pumping a fist. Somewhere in a slit second, one of the contestants has moved in, taken right of way (if necessary), and scored a touch. But it is soooooo fast that you need the instant replay that follows, or else most people watching at home won't be able to tell what is going on.

    Also, as mentioned above, fencing requires protective gear and masks- and it's pretty tough to identify with a hero if they're constantly in a full facemask. Although I would like to see fencing on TV, I think it would be very tricky.

    If you do want to see fencing, stick to movies. Two of the movies with better fencing scenes recently have been "The Mask of Zorro" with Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins and "The Princess Bride" with Cary Elwes and many others. Honestly, if you haven't seen "The Princess Bride" you need to go out and rent the movie anyway. Better yet, get a girl and make it a date- it is a solid date movie ;)


    I don't know much about non-olympic fencing, but I wouldn't call it fencing. Fencing is exclusively the olympic veriety, right? While there are many other viable, practical, and well developed wester MA systems, I would call them boxing systems, or sword systems, but never fencing. Maybe that's just me.


    Well done! I didn't know the answer to your question for sure, so I googled it. You were right! Here is what I found from this link:

    Apparently right of way was developed to deal with simultaneous kills- which occur very prequently in non-electric bouts, btw.

    Are there any more questions? I will be happy to share what I know. I would recommend to anyone that they start fencing- it is fun, fast paced, and very athletic. However, don't expect to become an complete warrior studing fencing- the system just isn't set up for that.
  2. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member

    There are many kinds of 'fencing'. Sport(aka Olympic or electric), Classical (foil, sabre epee, taught as preperation for a duel with sharps), and Historical (older weapons). Also the SCA sometimes calls what they do fencing.

    See also
  3. Elithril

    Elithril New Member

    i did fencing for a year and a half, good fun!

    I got so far as to compete in a North west tournament (UK). Got my ass handed to me :D Although i got further than my instructor expected.

    He believed i could go quite far if i went serious, but it was done through college and they stopped it :(

    I left for uni and they didnt do it, being lazy i gave up ^^
  4. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Good to see a live fencing thread :)

    I've done foil on and off for 25 years and some epee in that time as well. I've also done a TKD like martial art (Choi Kwang Do) which is non competitive. Based on these experiences and a few MAP meets I would say (like most other people here) that olympic style fencing is not an MA although there are skills from it that are relevant to MA's. There's a previous thread that covers a lot of these issues


    The whole popularity and audience friendly issue has been worrying the powers that be in fencing for some time. The notorious flick hit in foil became popular in the 1980's and virtually dominant in the 1990's until some of the better foilists found defences against them. This season there has been a change in the electric scoring box timings that are supposed prevent flick hits from registering to encourage more sword play. It's causing a lot of protest but I personally think that the main problem has been weak presiding for allowing a flick hit (without threatening the target) to be a valid attack.

    There have also been some more far out ideas for making foil more user friendly like changing the target area and eliminating the off target light to allow the use of wireless scoring apparatus. Lot's of protest again so I'm not sure where they will go. Masks with clear plastic fronts have been introduced at international level to allow people to see who is who and help them identify with a fencer. Not sure it's worked yet.

    In terms of complex rules that are difficult to follow and cause endless arrguments in competitions, foil and sabre are the culprits. Epee doesn't really have any rules so that should make it more popular and watchable. However the speed of actions in all the weapons will always be a problem for watchers unless heavier weapons are brought in to slow everyone down.
  5. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Asinus asinorum.

    I personally would love to see a proper match between all weapon arts, historical fencing, kenjutsu, kali, CMA etc.

    Now that would be something to watch. :cool:
  6. ocianain

    ocianain Valued Member

    Bluce, I saw a matchup between a kendo stylist and fencer on tv. The fencer ate him alive.He owned him.
  7. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Lol. Do you know which weapon the fencer was using? Bet it was sabre.

    Trouble is a hit with an olympic style sabre will generally sting and no more than that. However, a friend of mine needed stitches in his hand recently after being sliced during a competition by a sabre - freak accident, I've never heard of anything like it before.

    I've fought foil with the same guy with both of us wearing just a mask, glove T shirt and shorts for a laugh (not to be recommended and I won't be repeating the exercise - ever). However, all we got were some small bruises and we were going for it big time. So, the effectiveness of Olympic fencing weapons for inflicting damage is minimal unless you either hit with the point in the eye or you snap off the top third of a foil or epee to make the end sharp and the blade more rigid. Most of the deaths and serious injuries in fencing have arisen from a broken blade penetrating masks or clothing.

    I've never done Kendo but I bet a bokken would sting more than a sabre if you're just wearing a T shirt :)
  8. ocianain

    ocianain Valued Member

    Can't say what kind of weapon it was, but, he kept stabbing the kendo styist with the point. It was ugly.
  9. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    OK, that would probably either be foil or epee rather than sabre although sabreuers can do point hits if they have to :)

    At the end of the day, a really good fighter will adapt to any new styles and techniques and find ways of using them or countering them. That is as relevant between 2 foil fencers as it is between an epeeist and a kendoka or a foilist and an FMA'er etc etc. If that kendoka was any good eventually he would have figured out a defence and an effective attacking strategy
  10. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    Kendoka use a shinai not a bokken, which half the weight and made of split bamboo. They hurt like hell and can break bones like the wrists or the collar bone but usually the worst that you would get through normal clothes would welts, which sting a lot but thats about it.

    And I dont think a bokken would sting so much as erm......feel like you were hit with a wooden club :love:
  11. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Ow :)

    Excuse my ignorance on the bokken vs shinai.

    Is there much point hitting in eastern weapon systems? My un-educated guess is that many western weapons are point oriented whereas many eastern weapons are edge oriented.
  12. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    well as I dont relaly know all that much about eastern sword styles I can say whether is an emphasis on point versus edge, but I do know that in several western sword styles there is an emphasis on the edge over the point, Geroge silver's, and the style shown in MI33. And IN german longsword cuts, thrusts and slices are all important to the system.
    the farther a style gets from being a battle feld art the greater the emphasis on the point over the edge, rapiers were civilian self defence weapons and small swords that came later were dueling weapons and then the tools used in sport fencing.
  13. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Asinus asinorum.

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2005
  14. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Happening at a park near you.....

    Hi Bluce....

    A few of us Mappers (Glasgow-Greenock) occassionally get together for some blistering weapons training which includes some Kali V historical fencing.
    Your welcome to join in next time we get together.

  15. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Asinus asinorum.

    I'd love to, but I don't have any weapons experience, other than my friends and I attacking each other with my bokkens. And I just realised after checking your profile that I've had your website in my favourites for about a month!
  16. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    No experience necessary!

    Hi Bluce...

    For weapons training in Glasgow you should check out Elhig's Wednesday night classes at Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow.

    I'm usually in the Battery Park in Gourock, Sunday afternoon's for a bit of ad-hoc training. No experience necessary just PM me if your thinking of making the journey!!!!

  17. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    I'll second that, Elhig and Teacher run a good club and you'll have a great time and probably learn a lot of stuff as well.
  18. Cuchulain82

    Cuchulain82 Custodia Legis

    I used to practice sabre by fighting in short sleeves, or occasionally with no shirt at all. In hindsight it was probably not advisable, but our logic was that if we had any cuts or areas that were repeatedly marked up, we would know where the weak spots in our defense were.
  19. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I think that the thrust (the point then) is the main thing; it's got longer range, wounds lightly armoured opponents easier (cuts are best on naked people, but most people in europe wear clothes), it's faster and is harder to intercept, but it's easier to deflect. (The fact that most sword in europe are straight and pointy should support my statement.)

    The point isn't suvereen, though; it's a bit like stone-scissors-paper thing: cutting/deflections/coverings - thrusting -grappeling! Taking an example from the manual i know the best; Fior di Battaglia; many cuts ends up in a stab and actually cuts outwards, so a cut that doesn't reach the opponent can be followed up by a stab. Cuts are allso exellent coverings, and the very I-33 that Cudgel mentions have entry with a cut/covering as the standard way of finishing off an opponent that stands undecidedly with his sword in the centre; you enter the "zone of death" and engage his blade with a threat(the cut) that allso contacts with the opponents blade (unless he's a dork, doesn't parry and die) -once the contact is made, you lock his blade with your buckler, and finish of the opponent with a stab. Grappeling is alfa and omega if you encounter well armoured opponents, as either a stab or a cut from a sword is sufficient to penentrate european armor.
  20. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    ..erm this may have been answered, but serious weapons like swords are designed to kill/injure swiftly - not go 5 rounds, score points w/e

    kenjutsu - japanese sword fencing, sport equivelant kendo.
    kenjutsu just does not translate well into sport - in my view you may as well do stick work. Or kendo is just not a very good representation of the sword art. Kenjutsu relies on slicing and thrusting as well as parrying. Kendo relies on silly hits to score points. If you are doing kendo you most definately are not doing anything that remotely resemble the true art of japanese swordsmanship.

    As in most things you need to define your goals - what you want to gain from practice

    same things as western fencing / different weapons, different styles.

    We 'spar' with foam covered 'sticks' - but we don't turn it into a sport mindset - it is not the one we want. When one hit could mean serious injury/death with real weapons, do you really want all your focus on sport? I'd say it is different from empty hand. Not all traditional arts/methods are redundant quite yet Timmy my boy ;)

    But if you want sport - go with sport!
    Its not like you'll be going down your local with a sword under you coat, but i can usually find mine in the back of my car! (only a blunt practice one of course) ;)

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