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Fencing: On Guard!
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Fencing: On Guard!

One of the most fun things I have ever done in my life was Fencing. The thrill of sparring with a competitor that is your match, the feel of the foil in your hands as you attempt to strike your opponent. The fun I had fencing inspired me to write this article on it, hoping that it will inspire some of you to experience it. Before we go out and start poking each other with foils, its important to understand a little history of the sport. So follow me if you will to a time before time(just kidding were actually going to the late 16th century).

History of Fencing(Summarized)

The use of a thrust versus a stab must be first understood, in order to understand the fighting style of Fencing. Vegetius, the Late Roman military writer, explained that the Roman fighters preferred to thrust their swords into their enemies instead of cutting their enemies. Now you maybe asking why would this be more beneficial? The simple explanation is that a thrust will do more damage to the internal organs than a cut which can be stopped by armor or by the bone. Also when you raise your arm to cut your enemy you expose your side to a thrust. As the rise of the middle class in Europe became more apparent, so did the need for protection of one's assets and family. It was not uncommon to see men of this time period carrying Parsier(foils) for defense. Though not used in war, small disputes were settled with this, new fencing style which also lead to some new forms of entertainment(Duels).

Modern Day Fencing

Modern Day Fencing can be seen almost anywhere, but the big matches are held during the Olympics as well as the World Cup. Here in the United States Fencing hopefuls can register at the United States Fencing Association, which has many subdivision in which a person may participate. The rankings are: Y10(younger than 10), Y12(younger than 12), Y14(younger than 14), Cadet(younger than 17) and other rankings for older, more experienced fencers. The competitions usually follow a bracket style of elimination. The winners advance onwards while the losers are eliminated from the tournament.

Equipment

Foil- a thin and flexible training sword that was used to practice different thrust and maneuvers that were usually performed with a Parsier.

Epee- the Epee was created from the criticism of some swordsmen, who felt the Foil was too thin and not applicable to real life scenarios. In light of this the blacksmiths created a small sword without a needle point edge to practice with. The needle point edge was replace with a three pronged head which, snagged on the opponents shirt instead of piercing through it.

Sabre- is a cutting weapon, used for Modern Day Fencing. This may have Turkish descent based on the curvature of the blade and the way its used. Points are score by using the edge of the blade, and can only come in contact with the upper body.

Hopefully the information presented will spark an interest in your mind about trying Fencing. It was a rare treat that not many other people get to experience in their life. Trust me when I say that once you have experience the fun and competitive nature of the sport you will be enthralled by it.


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