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Author Topic: any ever train in fencing?  (Read 5737 times)
SoonerBJJ
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« on: May 03, 2003, 07:33:38 PM »

Anyone here ever trained in fencing?  I've run across a couple of pretty high caliber fencing schools in my area.  I realize that it has devolved into a point-fighting sport, but I'm interested in hearing the opinions of anyone that has actually trained or been involved with those who train in fencing.  The duel aspect of it seems pretty cool.

Are there any correlations between fencing and FMA?

Would fencing develop any attributes useful in BJJ or vale tudo?

Any experience of insight appreciated.
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William
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2003, 03:12:32 PM »

Go to Defend.net and read the "Knife" thread in the Filipino Martial Arts forum. On page four I describe our experience in fighting/fencing from an FMA stand point. I enjoy it much. It used to be posted here but I don't know if it still exists.

I still owe Crafty a tape. embarassed

William
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William
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2003, 03:21:05 PM »

Oops! Sorry, I should have said page three.


William
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SoonerBJJ
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2003, 06:26:03 PM »

Thanks for the info.  There is some useful info on that sight.  I hadn't been there in quite some time.
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SoonerBJJ
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2003, 11:18:35 PM »

I posted this thread on the archived board and thought I'd bring it back for any more input.


I have been looking for FMA instruction in my area, but haven't found anything satisfactory so I have investigated other forms of weapons training. I have found a few reputable fencing academies close to my home that produce successful competitors, so I decided to check out a class tonight.

I'm not sure what I was expecting but I was disappointed. I have been looking for some type of weapons training to complement my BJJ, sub grappling and stand-up. My first choice would be FMA, but the only instructors in my area spend the bulk of their time teaching JKD-type "grappling," stand up, etc.

I am intrigued by the dueling tradition and thought fencing might be interesting both for it's own sake and for incorporating concepts into my comprehensive fight "game."

I know VERY well that you cannot judge a person's strength and fighting skills by their appearance, but I got the impression that nary a one of these people had ever been in a real fight or would know what to do if they got into one. Not that this is a bad thing, but it makes me doubt the utility of this undertaking with my goals in mind.

Granted this was my first introduction to the sport but it impressed me as simply a pointing game, like a somewhat physical game of chess. There is no threat of real danger or injury so that sense of reality is completely removed.

I have great admiration for the activity and the discipline and skill that it requires, but I'm not sure it can offer what I seek. I suppose I was looking for a Dog Brothers style of fencing and came away sorely disappointed.

Any thought or rebuttal?
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SoonerBJJ
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2003, 11:20:09 PM »

This was a response from Mike_C that I thought was informative to bring back with my original post.


I totally agree with you on this, the notion of combativeness is sadly lacking from western fencing.
Thye tend to get quite upset if you say so too.

Its rooted in 18th and 19th century nobility duelling and sport not in true open combative stuff so its not really fair to judge it by something as combative as FMA arts for instance. I'm sure the peasants could fight well too but they did not leave us their arts, I am also sure too that noblemen did not hang around the seedier peasant places late at night hehe.

However there is alot in fencing thats very good for learning all around combative attributes. Alot of the footwork and timing concepts were used by Bruce Lee in the creation of Jun Fan Gung Fu and JKD so there is stuff there. Like anything else though you will only get out of it what you put into it.

We do a little pointy foil fencing in our ARMA group, but we allow all targets, no right of way rules, disarms, takedowns or throws allowed, aggresiveness is encouraged as long as you don't get stuck.
We often clash and end up on the ground and fight to either weapon kill or submission of some sort.
I myself use some of the body carriage concepts contained in the Pallas Armata rapier manual, body lowered, rear heel often off the ground even on lunges and alive hand in front of the face to save your ass when you have no defense left.

I find working on pointy weapon training helps my eye jab training and my dagger training footwork.

We are not very fancy looking and most fencers would thing us boorish and uncooth but we are tryingto do something most fencers are not really into.
We are trying to develop and all around western martial base, much like FMA has multiple weapons that all relate to each other in some way. The European masters of defence of years gone by taught multiple disciplines in thier academies, unarmed, boxing, dagger, rappier, halberd or spear, quarterstaff longsword and sword and buckler.

We are still focused on western longsword, a different beast entirely than pointy fencing and yet the footwork applies quite directly.

The key is to treat fencingl ike a martial art and not just call it that, play by the rules but then play openly on your own.
You would be amazed how much better fencing can be if you keep a combative outlook on it.
Don't listen to too much of the soft technique rhetoric, you have to go beyond what any teacher teaches you anyways.

I would also suggest that you read some historical manuals on the weapon of your choice, while a book is no replacement for a teacher, when you have no teacher what better source can you get than a manual written by a master of defence from rennaissance europe, a fellow who duellled, battled and taught in his time.

You might be surprised at how modern applications can come out of old western arts. For instance the baseball bat lends itself perfectly to the longsword style of fighting.

Fighting is everything, each weapon or new range you train in is just another piece in the puzzle.
Plus weapons are just so much fun to play with. Smiley

Mike
ARMA-SFL.com
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Mike_c
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2003, 01:13:45 PM »

yeah what that guy Mike_C said, i would listen to him he has a ninja mask Smiley
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Spadaccino
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2003, 02:34:30 PM »

Modern fencing is not a martial art.

It is a combat sport, and if you keep that in mind, you can learn much from it.

With all due respect, Mike_c is just plain wrong.  Assuming that he is the same Mike_c I am thinking of (being that he's an ARMA bloke who loves to criticize fencing), I can say that I have had several debates with him on the issue of modern Western sports fencing, both here and at MMA.tv (where I moderate on the History Forum as TrueFightScholar), and I have yet to see him make a worthwhile case against it.  That being said, I would also like to stress that Mike is a smart guy, and I respect his opinions on a host of other martial topics.  We actually tend to agree on most other things, but the worth of modern fencing definitely isn't one of them.

SoonerBJJ,

If you want to know more about modern Western sports fencing, I'll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

William,

I'd like to know more about your fencing experiences, as well as your opinions concerning the sport.  I, too, train in FMA, and so I think it would be interesting to compare notes.

Peace,

David Black Mastro

aka Spadaccino

aka TrueFightScholar
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"And the rapier blades, being so narrow and of so small substance, and made of a very hard temper to fight in private frays... do presently break and so become unprofitable." --Sir John Smythe, 1590
SoonerBJJ
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re:
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2003, 11:19:02 PM »

Spadaccino-  Thank you for your response.  I have read many of your posts regarding FMA on the weapons forum.  

I have continued to practice fencing once a week, in between training BJJ and vale tudo.  I have done fairly well in a very short time and plan to enter a novice competition this weekend.  I feel like my experience with other striking arts (boxing, MT, etc) has been an advantage over others.  I feel very comfortable with aggressive attacks and the timing of attacks with distance has been a relatively easy cross-over.  I have done well in bouting and I'm not sure how much of it is related to relentless attack rather than the "finer" technique.  Whatever that means.  I will take the time and effort to learn the finer points of fencing, but in the competitive setting I fall back on aggressive attack within the rules and structure of the foil.  Do you feel that this approach is losing the essence of the art?  Or do the truly successful competitors have a similar approach?

I feel like the experience has helped develop my sense of distance and timing.  I do not think I have learned much that would be practical in a real life sword fight.  The epee or sabre might be more applicable.  However it is unlikely that I would need such skills in this day.  I'd rather know how to fight with a knife, shoot straight or have the sense to run away.

Most importantly, I really enjoy the competition.  It is somewhat unrealistic in that I do not feel any threat to my life or limb.  I'm not worried about going home with black eyes, bruises or concussions.  But it still incites a rush and rewards aggressive actions.  I think anyone who enjoys combat sports would get some satisfaction from fencing as long as they entered with realistic expectations.

You said: "If you want to know more about modern Western sports fencing, I'll be happy to steer you in the right direction."
I would appreciate any such direction.

Sooner
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Anonymous
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2003, 07:51:23 AM »

SoonerBJJ,

Spadaccino- Thank you for your response. I have read many of your posts regarding FMA on the weapons forum.

Anytime, bro.

I will take the time and effort to learn the finer points of fencing, but in the competitive setting I fall back on aggressive attack within the rules and structure of the foil. Do you feel that this approach is losing the essence of the art? Or do the truly successful competitors have a similar approach?

That can be a hard question to answer, mainly because modern competitive sport fencing has become so bastardized in certain areas (I'll post more on that later).  I will tell you this--learn those "finer points", because the can be very useful down the road.

I feel like the experience has helped develop my sense of distance and timing.

It definitely should--the cornerstone of fencing (and with virtually all other combat sports and martial arts in the West) is bouting or free-sparring.  That it one of it's great strengths, for there is really no other way to develop that sense of timing and distance.

I do not think I have learned much that would be practical in a real life sword fight. The epee or sabre might be more applicable. However it is unlikely that I would need such skills in this day. I'd rather know how to fight with a knife, shoot straight or have the sense to run away.

Foil is definitely limited (due mainly to the restricted target area), but the basics you learn in regards to point control, etc., will actually have applications not only in epee (the other thrusting weapon), but also in saber.  And, while sports saber is a mere pale shadow of its former self, it takes only a comparatively minor amount of modification in order to bring out its true martial effectiveness.  My own saber training helped me with both my FMA stick and knife fighting, since I already had a finely developed sense of timing and distance, not to mention my ability to be able to repeatedly hit the other folks in the hand...

Most importantly, I really enjoy the competition. It is somewhat unrealistic in that I do not feel any threat to my life or limb. I'm not worried about going home with black eyes, bruises or concussions. But it still incites a rush and rewards aggressive actions. I think anyone who enjoys combat sports would get some satisfaction from fencing as long as they entered with realistic expectations.


Fencing is considered a contact sport, but it is certainly one of the safest.  However, in regards to you not feeling threatened, consider this:

What if that foil was a ridgid smallsword?  Anytime you received a touch to your torso, you would have been skewered, had it been a real engagement.

About 1 fencer dies a year, from the result of a broken blade piercing his or her ballistic jacket.

In addition, you might find it interesting that:

The only sport that requires faster reflexes than fencing is race car driving.

You said: "If you want to know more about modern Western sports fencing, I'll be happy to steer you in the right direction."
I would appreciate any such direction.


So be it--in my next post, I will comment upon some of the points made by Mike_c, and we'll discuss the different stages that Western swordplay has gone through during the ages.

Peace,

David Black Mastro[/b]
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Spadaccino
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2003, 07:54:08 AM »

Sorry!

Yes, that was obviously me in the post above--I forgot to login!

Peace,

David Black Mastro
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"And the rapier blades, being so narrow and of so small substance, and made of a very hard temper to fight in private frays... do presently break and so become unprofitable." --Sir John Smythe, 1590
McIver
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2003, 11:50:13 AM »

Just a side note: as an actor I had a choreographed small sword duel in a play.  Small sword is, in my quite limited understanding, quite similar to foil fencing in that it was basically a loong needle, and the idea was to stick your opponent in the torso.

The fight director--who was quite versed in historical swordplay--said that small sword duels were, on a percentage basis, the most lethal of all forms of duelling, pistols included.  (In the heyday of duelling the pistols were not terribly accurate.)  The targets were basically the lungs and heart, and each stab with a modern foil would, as Spadaccino notes, likely have resulted in a kill.

Just throwing it in there.

Matt
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William
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2003, 04:13:50 PM »

Quote
William,

I'd like to know more about your fencing experiences, as well as your opinions concerning the sport. I, too, train in FMA, and so I think it would be interesting to compare notes.


Well, I have no formal training in fencing, so I don't really have any too many comments about the sport itself. Only that from what I've seen, a lot of it has become pretty unrealistic from a combative stand point.
 
We got into the fencing through one of our members who had some formal fencing training. We approached it from an FMA combative mindset. While playing it from a realistic stand point, we soon discovered that it was great for developing timing, footwork, blade awareness/tracking, and offensive/counter-offensive reflexes (plus it's just a heck of a lot of fun). All targets are allowed and we move however we like. We like to use the heavier practice Saber and daggers. They don't whip much at all and you can feel it when you take a hit. We started with heavy clothing/jackets and then moved to basically t-shirts and shorts or light pants. This way we knew for sure if we took a hit and adjusted our technique accordingly. We started out with Saber & dagger then branched out to single and double sabers, single and double daggers, and even some saber and shield fighting. We match up weapons and fought miss-matched as well.

When fighting saber & dagger, the importance of the dagger becomes immediately apparent in the ability to deflect and parry incoming attacks. Also from an offensive stand point in attacking parries. Much of the time the defensive parry is nothing more than a flick of the wrist...which saved my ass many a time. Also, an opponent is much less likely to try and crash in when you have a dagger waiting in your rear hand.

Footwork is always very important. The speed of fencing in this manner just drives that point home. Another point is that many times, insanely simple techniques prove to be highly effective. Many times I'll gauge my opponents attack and from a high line, just let my blade fall directly down onto their weapon hand/arm as they advance (and I retreat slightly off-line). Most effective on thrusting attacks but can be effective against slashes with good footwork.

On aggressive attacking opponents, I'm a pretty good on the counter-attack so I don't mind if a person is real aggressive and presses. We had one guy who would immediately attack and just keep pressing, you just use your footwork and let him tire out and get sloppy before you go for him. Many times I'll use feighnts and set-ups to draw people into attacking.

I find that the attributes that are developed through fencing carry over directly to my other training. It's a lot of fun and a darn good aerobic work out. The one thing to keep in mind is to play it realistically. Acknowledge hits and what they would have done if you were using real blades. Train to hit without being hit.

Sorry for the slight rambling but I was in a bit of a hurry.

William
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Mongrel Combative Systems
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Anonymous
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2003, 08:54:09 PM »

Everyone,

One thing that ARMA Mike said in that post is something that I actually really agree with (so far as fencing goes):

You would be amazed how much better fencing can be if you keep a combative outlook on it.

In fact, that is something that I have personally always done.

I also happened to train at a school where so-called "classical" (ie., more combative and less sporting) technique is still taught.  Because of those factors, I have always approached fencing (and fenced) from a particular perspective, and in a particular manner.  Because of this, the factors that usually bug martial artists have rarely been a concern for me.  I will post more on this very soon.

Peace,

David Black Mastro
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Spadaccino
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2003, 09:00:44 PM »

Dang, forgot to login again...

Anyway, I'm thinking that perhaps many of the differences that Mike and I have in regards to fencing stem from the fact that many (perhaps most) fencing schools do not adcovate the approach discussed above, and also, not all fencers (probably comparatively few) fence in that more combative manner.  

In fact, I'm wondering how much debate could have been avoided, had I realized this sooner (then again, I can be dense at times--look at how hard I find it to merely login before posting).   shocked  cheesy

Anyway, I'll post more thoughts on all of this shortly.

Peace,

David Black Mastro
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"And the rapier blades, being so narrow and of so small substance, and made of a very hard temper to fight in private frays... do presently break and so become unprofitable." --Sir John Smythe, 1590
Mike_c
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2003, 08:57:22 AM »

Don't forget to login  cheesy
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