Back to Basics

Tony CoachingTony came up with an idea to lift the quality of fencing in Salle Angelo and set about organizing a day’s coaching of foil techniques. He did that and led the coaching, ably assisted by Barry.  The venue was the Pioneer Hall in Port Chalmers  Рa small space but adequate for the ten people who took advantage of the sessions.

The morning was used to cover the guards and to practice them:

  • the suppinated parries ‚Äď sixte, quarte, octave, septieme
  • and the pronated parries ‚Äď tierce, quinte, seconde, prime¬†

To complete the morning we paired up and worked out sequences using the parries.

Lunch at the Tall Poppy ‚Äď great food and, as with all our lunches, good conversation and stories to aid digestion.

Two sessions in the afternoon:

  • First instruction and practice of attacks -simple, disengage, beat, coup√©, double coup√©, graze (to name a few) culminating in building sequences again.
  • Then a session on presiding. Barry and Brian set up sequences and the rest of us ‚Äėpresided‚Äô after which our efforts were discussed and analyzed.

The day was a great success and all hail to Tony for the work he put into it.

The Spring Tournament – Domenico Day

Iain and Mike instructed by TedAs a tribute to Domenico Angelo after whom our salle is named, and to explore the difference in fencing 18th century style to ‘modern’ visual the day followed the methods illustrated in the ‘Ecole des Armes’. Ted studied the text and etchings producing copies for us and instructed us on the day.

The biggest difficulty to overcome was the difference in the shape of the blades. Because the 18th Century sword was a flat blade with one sharp edge our guards had to be relearned. The rest of the coaching was also fun, starting with the salute which included moves such as doffing one’s hat, and the ‘the appel’.¬† This was followed by Ted coaching us in moves such as disarming one’s opponent, using one’s left hand to parry and additional footwork.

All this was put together in a tournament which turned out to be very successful – a little confusing for the president at¬†times and some temporary rules¬†had to be applied as we progressed. We did find however, that the use of the left hand to parry, left one wide open to be hit by one’s opponent unless the parry was¬† followed quickly by¬†the thrust of one’s own sword –¬†if not at the same time.

As always, our day was completed with a formal dinner before which Vanda fought her publicVanda's Public Duel duel against the club champion to gain membership to Salle Angelo. She won the bout with honour and competence and was awarded her membership certificate by Ted during the dinner.  Over coffee the speechifying included a recitation from Brian;

A collection of poems by by Ralph Goldstein.


The Epeeman, the Epeeman, in frayed and tattered gear
Can lick his weight in wildcats and can drink his weight in beer
And for the foil and sabreman he hasn’t any fear
For he’s a late edition of the dashing Musketeer.¬† etc etc

And for the full poem go to

Photos by Gio and Tony

Royal Naseby tournament 2009

Crowd Gathers to Watch the Public Duel
Crowd Gathers to Watch the Public Duel

The weekend followed the traditional pattern – arrive at the Royal Hotel on Friday evening (19th July) to have a bar meal, fencing all day Saturday. formal dinner at the Royal and coffee and muffins at the crib on Sunday.¬† But there were two departures from the usual: Peter Heron, the Principal of Maniototo Area School, made the school’s gymnasium available to us and, being a fencer himself, joined in the fencing. The other event was Michael Jameson’s public duel for membership.¬† This was fought in the art deco ambience of the Ranfurly Hotel and Michael, having acquitted himself honourably, was duly admitted to full membership of Salle Angelo.

The dinner at night was a warm friendly occasion Рalthough the toast to the Queen had to be postponed until the National Anthems of France and NZ were sung, (preceding the televised match between France and the All Blacks).  The awards for our tournament were:

Trophy for the winner of the Foil event               Michael Arnott

Certificate for the winner of the Sabre event      Tony Williams

Certificate for the winner of the Epee event        Tony Williams

An excellent weekend all round.    Bis Vivit Qui Bene Vivit (Royal Naseby Hotel Coat of Arms)

Special Garden Fencing

Ted Presents the Award to Fi
Ted Presents the Award to Fi

Saturday 18th April and a fine day.  Perhaps the last day we could fence outside before the onslaught of winter and a decision was made to return to one of our favourite spots in the Botanic Gardens. It was a special day too as we presented the Salle Angelo Award to Fiona McMilllan for her outstanding work with young and beginning fencers.  Fi has given up most of her Sunday afternoons to coach beginners in the Dunedin fencing clubs and we wanted to acknowledge the work she has put into this important area of fencing.

Garden Fencing

We hadn’t fenced outside in 2009 and this prompted us to plan for a Saturday in early March to fence in the park – with the piste beside the hothouses in the Botanic Gardens.¬† It turned out a to be a hot sunny day and there was little shade so if you take a look at the photos you’ll see many versions of sunhats.

A good number of members turned up and there was some good fencing for the passers-by.¬† One of them, a lady of “mature years”, was delighted to stop and recall memories of her fencing days at Otago University many years ago.

Another bystander took some good photos of the event. We are very thankful for his involvement as none of us had remembered to bring a camera.  All the pictures in this article and the related album were taken by  Swee Kin Loke Рthanks Kin.

Proceedings were wrapped up with our all-important lunch for postmortems, to relate stories and to right the world.  A very enjoyable day.

Salle Angelo Dinner

Salle Angelo celebrates the birth of Domenico Angelo on 6 February (1716) as close to that date as possible. This year it was Saturday the 7th and was held at Scotia (Old Railway Station) Restaurant.

The Guest of Honour was Russell Towns who has had a long association with fencing in Otago. Many will remember Russell’s efficient organisation of Commonwealth and National Tournaments and many other activities in local clubs over the years. For his service to the sport he was awarded the MNZM in 2005.

Mike Geary was the Master of Cerermonies and guided us through the dinner, speeches and toasts very ably. Ted Nye presented an award (in absentia) to Fiona McMillan acknowledging her work with young fencers and those beginning the sport. The Royal Toast was proposed by Brian Ellis and the toast to Salle Angelo by Tony Williams. Gio gave the traditional Angelo address which took the line of thanks to two people – to Malcolm Fare who provided notes from and helped in an (unsuccessful) purchase of documents at a auction at Sotheby’s, and to Bruce McGechan who gifted prints from “Ecole d’Armes”¬† and an early edition of Henry Angelo’s Pocket Fencing Manual to the family.

An excellent evening.

Start of a new season

The opening day for 2009 was postponed for a week due to some people still being on holiday but on the 24th Feb. we gathered at Heyward Point (Gio and Ruth’s crib) to start fencing for the year.

It was hot! But the fencing was at a good standard considering the temperature and we had had a few weeks off.. I’m not sure who¬†won the tournament – either Brian of Tony I think.

The fencing was by a followed a walk to the heads, followed by a few films in the Cannon Picture Theatre and all this flowed into a dinner, a few drinks, good conversation and generally righting the world.

Photo From a typical Club Day

Brian and Barry have obviously enjoyed their bout. Salle Angelo is more about the enjoyment of skilful fencing – both bladework and footwork – than it is about winning. The club’s tournament events are keenly fought but there is no club “ladder” and the fencers find there is satisfaction enough in challenging themselves and their opponents in the bout of the moment.