Olympic fencing...time to change...

Discussion in 'The European Art of Fencing' started by billc, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. billc

    billc Grandmaster

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    I was thinking about the various sword arts and their sport versions. In Kendo, Gumdo, Western Historical fencing, and they have something that Western olympic fencing doesn't have...freedom of movement in an open area. For those who study the history and development of WOF I was wondering, was the lane fighting that you see because of a desire to monitor who scored a touch, or was there some other reason they narrowed the movement as the art went into sport?

    With the electric scoring devices used in fencing, have they gone wireless yet? And if they have gone wireless...wouldn't that innovation make it possible for them to open up from a lane to an open ring for their matches...changing the art, it's techniques of movement, attack and defense?

    Would fencers want to increase their range of movement? Wouldn't it be more fun to open it up?

    Just wondering...especially with the advent of wireless technology...
     
  2. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I shall have to go and have a bit of a research drive on this to be sure I'm not talking complete cobblers but I think that the linear nature of fencing is possibly down to it being developed from the code duello?
     
  3. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Firstly, wired fencing doesn't interfere with range of movement. Fencing on a strip was established over a century before electric scoring became the norm.
    Secondly, the linear nature developed from judging of bouts in exhibitions, not from the code duello. This made it easier to judge and to score. It also lends itself to more fencers active at one time in the salle.

    They use reel-less rigs in the Olympics; the lights are in the masks rather than on the strip and are battery operated, so the fencers are not teathered. They found that that works better than the wireless rigs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  4. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Bill, sorry for a less than thorough answer earlier. I had to leave my desk. Anyway. . .

    I'm not sure which gumdo you mean, as there's more than one. Sparring varries from kendo with Korean terms to sparring with foam blades. Haidong Gumdo didn't originally have sparring, but I understand that they've made efforts to incorporate it. I'm not familiar enough to comment on them.

    Yes, it was for judging purposes and for exhibition purposes. Fencing on a piste was established well before electric scoring and comes out of small sword if I am not mistaken.

    As I said in my previous post, they have at the higher levels, though it isn't really wireless so much as reel-less. It hasn't changed the art, though the technology certainly has the flexibility to be applied to fencing in a ring/square/octagan/what have you.

    I've fenced rapier and in the AHF, rapier fencing rules are as you describe. More fun is a relative term. I find fencing on the piste to be just as fun as rapier fencing or as kendo, which also allows you to circle and has more space to move in. I have had no difficulty transitioning from the strip to a ring.

    And thank you for posting a topic on USFA fencing. It is appreciated.
     
  5. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    As someone who knows very little about fencing, this is an interesting discussion :asian:
     
  6. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I spoke with my fencing coach last night and brought this discussion up with him. He said that at the Olympic and very, very high levels, they actually do use a true wireless system. However, it requires a representative from each country to be on hand to insure its calibration. Grounding out is apparently a big issue. The reel-less system is a less expensive alternative and is apparently used for epee, which has fewer considerations to work around with regards to target area. He said that wireless will probably be more viable in a few years and that it's "almost there," but not quite.
     
  7. billc

    billc Grandmaster

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    Are there any fencing groups in the "olympic" style of fencing that even think about opening up their straight line competition to a more open arena? Any discussions anywhere along those lines? I would think that it might be something someone would mention. Tradition can be hard to get around, but it might be more interesting from a spectator perspective especially with the speed of the exchanges that you would see.
     
  8. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Not that I know of, though it would be simple enough; just go to the park or an auditorium and fence steam. I fence SCA periodically and have no difficulty circling and such, and I seriously doubt that any strip fencer would have difficulty either. I don't find strip vs. ring to be a matter of greater/lesser; each provides its own challenge to the fencers.

    The reason for strip fencing as opposed to fencing in a ring is actually to facilitate spectators. Fencing exhibitions were set up on a stage with the audience out in front (as in a theatre), and the strip format lends itself to easier judging, as the judges can actually remain stationary rather than having to move around to try to maintain a good angle.
     
  9. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    I teach Bowie, Pugilism, and generally any WMA that I do (singlestick, etc.) on Sunday afternoons here: http://www.s-w-o-r-d.com/ (https://www.facebook.com/SWORDayton)

    My students there are often drawn from the Olympic Fencing folks. It takes about 1 session for most of them to get out of the habit of linear footwork. Depending on the fencer, it can take a fair bit longer than one session for them to get decent at "move anywhere" footwork but that's just a matter of practice and experience. The conceptual transition is usually pretty easy for them. To be honest, a lot of them almost instinctively want to be able to fence in the round. They have to train themselves to linear-only. Fencing in the round is very liberating.

    The funny thing is that, again, depending on the fencer, sometimes they're good enough with their Olympic Fencing skills to be effective while still being conceptually limited to straight line footwork. Once they learn the weight, reach, and other details of the new weapon, it's pretty easy for them to start applying their Olympic Fencing skills to the new weapon. Of course, not all of it translates. Depending on the blade to bend on the opponents block and still touch, as an example, doesn't work, but most of them can easily file those sort of things into the "manipulate the rules and equipment to better compete" Olympic Fencing folder.

    So, while, yes, there are some things in Olympic Fencing which would be considered a "bad habit" in some other sword/blade oriented martial arts, those habits are easily removed and, over all, Olympic Fencing instills a lot of really useful swordy type skills. Don't get into a "I can lunge thrust better than you" schlong-measuring match with an Olympic Fencer. They're really good at it and have been eating lunches in that area for a very long time.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     

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