Posted On:7/04/2006 1:28pm
If you're looking for an olympic fencing club in your area, go ask around at www.fencing.net, someone will know where you should go.
I've fenced for maybe 10 years now, though I'm taking a break right now; it's a very fun sport, where experience and technique can go a long way to beating athletic ability (though being fast and TALL does no harm either). I have experience in both sabre and epee, and recommend either of those over foil.
I cannot recommend most places that teach "classical fencing." In general they define themselves in negative terms, in the ways they haven't "sold out" and sportified the way modern fencing has. The difference between the two isn't that one is realistic sword fighting and one isn't; the difference is that only one of the two THINKS its realisitc sword fighting, while the other makes no such pretensions and considers itself a sport and worth practicing for itself, like collegiate wrestling or tennis. Classical fencing tends to lack the athletic training methods and testing of competition, and it's hard to imagine most of its students beating anyone, especially a modern fencer, in an actual sword fight.
NB: I'm not talking about Western sword martial places, which may train hard and athletically and compete amongs themselves and may have actual sword skills; I don't have first hand experience with such places, so have no opinion. But most places that use the terms "classical fencing" or that define themselves negatively by how they're NOT sports fencing tend to be just awful.
BJJ Black Belt
Posted On:7/04/2006 2:10pm
Style: Rex Kwon Do
Are many of the "classical fencer's" skills too deadly to spar in a mere sporting environment???
Posted On:7/04/2006 3:31pm
No. Classical fencers compete amongs themselves, though this almost always just means among their own club, wheras olympic fencers have local, regional, national, and (if they're good enough to qualify) international tournaments. Though there are apt comparisons between classical fencing the negative aspects of traditional martial arts...
If you ask them they'll tell you the way they fence is more like what actually fencing with sharp points or blades was once like. And it's true they do not allow some of the actions of sports fencing that really have no connection to actual sword fighitng, like the flick. They also eschew the modern electric judging system, in which the referee calls the points unassisted by other judges, using the scoring lights to determine what hits were valid. Instead classical fencers use a referee and several side judges who are polled to determine what actually happened in the point. This necessitates the actions being fairly simple and blatantly obvious for a fencer to be given the point, and a valid hit that does not look "clean" or "correct" may not be called. Watching these people fence, it seems very unlikely that they're in any way an accurate reproduction of dueling.
To the eyes of a sports fencer, classical fencing looks very stilted, simple, and determined to be formal and correct regardless of whether the "proper" way actually is functionally better. A case in point is what should be the most basic thing, the en guarde position. A classical fencer will insists it's vitally important that the back hand is held up high in a silly, unnatural, sometimes even tiring position, claiming that this is better for balance and even that it opens up the lungs to work more fully. It's certainly the position you see in ancient textbooks written in Italian and Spanish. But you'll see hardly any modern fencers in such a stylized position, just with their back arm back far enough so that it doesn't cover valid target area if you fence foil, or offer an easy target if you fence epee or sabre.
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