Fencing vs. Kendo/Kumdo

Discussion in 'The European Art of Fencing' started by MartialArtist, May 11, 2003.

  1. I'm looking to take both kumdo and fencing... I have very little experience with kumdo and relatively no experience with fencing. I'll be taking fencing at the local community college where the instructor was his fencing instructor for one of my students.

    Anyone care to enlighten me on the differences on fencing and kumdo, other than design of the weapon (which obviously affects the tactics, strategy, and mechanics).
     
  2. yilisifu

    yilisifu Guest

    I've no experience with kumdo. Kendo, yes...but kumdo, no. If kumdo is anything like kendo, then I would say that kumdo and fencing are worlds apart. Not only are the weapons entirely different, but their approaches to fighting are very different.

    Fencing is great fun. I once had a student who'd trained in it for some time and we used to practice now and then.
     
  3. How is it technically and tactically different? And I believe modern kumdo and kendo are very similar. I do know however that the swordplay of Korea is significantly different than that of Japan (somewhat), but I do know that kumdo practitioners can compete in kendo tournaments and visa versa.
     
  4. Samurai

    Samurai Blue Belt

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    Kendo and Kumdo are the exact same thing with different vocabulary.

    Watch an old 3 Musketeers movie and an old samurai movie. Even though it is Hollywood...you will see a big difference.

    --Jeremy Bays
     
  5. Shinai or bokken?
     
  6. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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  7. Charles Mahan

    Charles Mahan Purple Belt

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    The tactical differences revolve around the different types of weapons involved and the kind of damage they are designed to inflict. Fencing is usually about using VERY lightweight weapons to poke, and sometimes make superficial slashes. Kendo/Kumdo is about using a somewhat heavier weapon to really cut your opponent. Cut him deeply. Cut him hard, and occasionally sever body parts. You use your hips more to generate power in Kendo/kumdo.

    One is not necessarily better than the other. If the fencing guy is fast and accurate enough he can get a fatal thrust in on the Kendo guy(assuming unarmored combat). The bad news is that the kendo guy armed with a live blade is likely to deliver a fatal slice to the Fencing guy regardless of the mortal wound, and there isn't likely to be much the relatively flimsy fencing weapon is going to be able to do to stop it.

    Different types of fighting for different types of weapons. The bad news is they are different enough that habbits from one are likely to be determental to the other. I'd suggest training in one as the primary art for a few years before picking up the other as a secondary art.
     
  8. nijntje

    nijntje Guest

    i believe that the katana is more effective for batlefield combat,
    for the reason that you are surounded with many oponents,with armour.
    for that reason is the weapon with slashing capebilities the most effective one.
    ofcourse they (samurais) fight duels ,,
    but an rapier wich is more lighter and thiner is an more exelent weapon for an man to man duel,,but very unefective weapon for the batle field with a large numbers of oponents,,for it is mostly an stabing weapon.

    maybe i'm wrong,,but it seems the most logical answer.
     
  9. Charles Mahan

    Charles Mahan Purple Belt

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    Actually the katana, much like the rapier is a sidearm. It isn't a main battlefield weapon. Your primary weapon on a Japanese battlefield is probably a yari(spear), naginata(glaive), or yumi(bow).

    Again, I suspect that unless the fencer was to get in a really well placed thrust to something vital, a rapier simply does not have the stopping power to stop someone with a katana from cutting the fencer fatally.
     
  10. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think the naginata was a very common battlefield weapon, and indeed the katana was more of a "sidearm" if you will.

    Watch some old Japanese samurai films and you'll see the naginata used very often in the big battles.
     
  11. Akula

    Akula Guest

    I fenced competitively for a few years, and probably the main issue is that the weapons you see used in fencing are a 'competition' equivalent of the real weapon.

    One of the weapons I fought with was the sabre. This was traditionally a calvary weapon, used on horseback, thus the competition rules dictate that the target zone for a scoring hit is from the waist up (that hit could be a slash or thrust). Other than that, you would hit the horse. If you look at a competition sabre and a real sabre, they will have the same over length, and basic guard, but the blade is totally different. The competition version seen in the Olympics and other events has been severely lightened, and the weapon itself has electrical sockets in it for the scoring equipment. The real blade has a general thickness and profile not unlike the katana.

    Other weapons in fencing competition are the epee and foil. Both have similarities and blade differences to thier 'real' counterparts, and also use different target area in competition to reflect the actual historical usage of the weapon.

    One last note about fencing - the blades may look flimsy, but it's quite common to go home after practice with raised welts somewhere. The jackets don't offer a great deal of protection. To bring the weapons together in a sentence, I once heard a fencing master comment something like "in foil and epee, you make red dots on you opponent...in sabre you connect them!"

    My experience with kumdo is quite limited, so if someone wants to make specific comments about tactics, target zones, movement, etc... in kumdo/kendo, I'll see if I can draw some fencing parallels.
     
  12. Kendo has a lot more yelling and is tons more expensive. You'll probably have to buy your own armor, while a fencing salle will provide it for you.

    They are both excellent martial arts. Fencing is being rediscovered as a true martial art.
     
  13. Akula

    Akula Guest

    As for 'yelling', fencing has its share, but more from exertion, winning a point, or losing a point, but not as part of the form.

    As for equipment, all the salles I have been to will provide equipment for the beginners, but only for an introductory period. After that you are expected to buy your own. That actually works out well because you can try different weapon configurations, find out which brands fit you best, and what weapons you want to learn before you buy.

    Buying can get pretty expensive fast - a full kit of gear if you want to do the major competitions, will cost around $1,300.00 for the minimum complement of equipment - often it's quite a bit higher. Obviously beginner sets can be found for much less, but they won't meet up to the safety standards of some tournaments.
     
  14. Akula

    Thank you for posting the information on fencing. I am a current fencer. I have been fencing foil and sabre for 20 years now. You are right in many things you said except the "but it's quite common to go home after practice with raised welts somewhere." if you are fencing with people who are leaving marks on you like that they are lacking something called blade control.
    I have fenced against people like that in tournaments and they have had brutality charges against them in the bout.
    I have taught foil and adv sabre for a long time and the one thing i can say that is important about sabre is blade control.

    I am also a student of kenjitsu and of kendo too.

    When comparing fencing and kendo its like comparing apples and oranges.
    Each has a their advantages and disadvantages.

    Chicago Green Dragon

    :asian:

     
  15. In kendo at first you wont need any armor until your teacher tells you to get it so dont go running out and buy it. You will need a wooden bokken and a shinai (which is a type of bamboo sword). Your top is a kendo top and you will wear a split pant called a hakama. Depending on your budget you can get something simple and inexpensive or spend a good buck.
    In fencing it will depend on the type of weapon you choose to study. Most beginers study foil and go from there. For non-electric foil the equipment is not that expensive but as you get into other weapons or electric weapons the cost and shoot up quiet a bit. In fencing I would recommend you get a plastron for your weapons arm. That is a protective layer which protects your weapons arm and part of your side, chest and back that you wear under your jacket.
    If you are interested in fencing I would recommend going to the USFA website. The USFA is the United States Fencing Association.

    http://www.usfencing.org/

    If you are interested in seeing some top kendo related equipment I would recomment going to E-bogu

    http://www.e-bogu.com/

    Chicago Green Dragon

    :asian:

     
  16. Christopher Umbs

    Christopher Umbs Yellow Belt

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    USFA is fine for electric sport fencing. But that has very little to do with European sword arts. For traditional (classical and historical) fencing, see the Assoc. For Historical Fencing (www.ahfi.org) and the links from there.
     
  17. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Do you mean that there's some sort of "foul" or penalty for excessive force in fencing?

    More fencing links:
    http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2605
     
  18. Akula

    Akula Guest

    Yes, based on the the referee's judgement of the severity and number of occurances, they can range from a warning, to a penalty touch for the opponent, to exclusion from the tournament.
     
  19. RITFencing

    RITFencing Orange Belt

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    The two are VERY different...

    There are the same basic similarities that all combative activities share: timing is extremely important, as is distance, whoever is in control of the match, baring technical errors, is most likely going to win. Many of the same qualities are useful in each: Speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, quick analysis and reaction times, capacity of abstract tactical thought, sense of timing, distance and tempo, determination, pain tolerance, focus, etc.

    However, the technical details of the weapons, the targets, the footwork and the objectives (exactly what constitutes good fencing/kendo/kumdo), are completely different, which will of course lead to completely different tactics.

    I'll tell you what I tell every eastern martial artists who gets fencing lessons from me: Don't try to take specific techniques and tactics from one to the other. There are very good reasons that each activity took its own evolutionary path. To effectively use a background of eastern martial arts in fencing, or vice versa, I find that it is best to focus on the qualities that each activity develops and transfer those, rather than trying to force the application of something developed for a completely different thing.
     
  20. RITFencing

    RITFencing Orange Belt

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    Sort of... fencers can be given a red card (touch for the opponent) for a "dangerous, violent or vindictive action with the blade, bell guard or pommel" and can be given a black card (disqualification) for a "touch scored with deliberate brutality."

    These aren't given out often, and certainly not just for hitting hard. I've only seen the latter once, when one fencer punched another in the back of the head with his bell guard (the part of the weapon that protects the hand; rather large in epee) after a touch. The black card was a no brainer there. Generally, the former is given out when someone is intentionally trying to inflict pain with their touches, not just attacking with poor technique or with bad distance. Neither penalty is a very common one, though I often come home from practices and especially competitions with a bruise here and there, and I've given out more than my fair share.

    As a side note, the jacket, knickers and underarm protector are not actually there for padding; this is a fringe benefit. They are actually there to prevent a broken blade from entering a fencer, or at least going very far. When a fencing weapon breaks, the foible (the weak, flexible part towards the end) is usually the part the snaps off, leaving a considerably less bendable, sometimes jagged shiv in a person's hand. If that person is already committed to a deep attack, the momentum can be quite dangerous. Fortunately, high end fencing uniforms are made of different types of ballistic nylon (it used to be Kevlar, but that's very stiff and is not ideal for this sort of impact anyway) and are rigorously tested (or at least, they are supposed to be...)

    Unfortunately, the USFA has very low standards for protective gear. Instead of requiring the jackets, underarms and knickers to be tested to resist 800 N impacts and the bib of the mask to withstand 1600, which is the specification required at world cups (certified by the FIE, the international governing body) and by some governing bodies, or 350 N/800 N, which is the basic requirement for the French federation, the FFE (which has been adopted by many others) the USFA only requires that uniforms be made of a "durable, resilient material."

    I personally fence in all FIE gear, and would not even think of competing in less than a 350 N kit. The club I coach at does not sell any of the really cheap, unrated uniforms, and I am in full agreement with them on this.
     

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