What is the Most difficult to Learn in Fencing

The is an Article from ‘Cut and Trust’, the bulletin of Egham Fencing Club, England, written by Derek Evered.

Within a year or so we can learn the basic strokes and moves (technique). Next we learn when to use each stroke (tactics). Then a lifetime trying to master correct timing and distance.

But in my opinion, the hardest task: is learning “Le sentiment de fer”. Please excuse my terrible accent in French. Though Winston Churchill also spoke infamous English French (“Fronglay”). A translation of “Le sentiment de fer” is “The feeling of the blade”.

Of course your coaches teach this but you can practice also with a fencing partner by agreement. My description refers to foil and epee play but it is also possible at sabre. You attack your club mate with a direct thrust and he parries quarte.

Meeting no resistance to his blade he ripostes direct. Next you parry quarte after his parry so he must riposte by disengage. Then you choose to do these two responses in random order.

Wearing masks of course you repeat this sequence with him shutting his eyes when his parry is made. Then riposting direct or indirect with the eyes shut: “feeling the blade”. You have taught him le sentiment de fer! Reverse roles now so you can learn the same. Try a similar sequence after the parry of (circular) parry of counter sixte.

Similarly you can train to feel the blade during attacks. Thus you first engage in sixte the opposing steel and your opponent does nothing. You feel no resistance so attack direct. Next your partner parries sixte so you disengage to score a hit.

Subsequently he parries or not at random and you must respond appropriately.

Score your successes. This game is called: “The Coach Always Wins!”

The Royal Naseby Fencing Tounament

It was cold, the flags were up and the fencers were warming up for the annual tournament – but it wasn’t Naseby. Accommodation difficulties in Naseby led us to hold the tournament in our own back yard – Arthur St School Hall in Dunedin. The foil event started fairly promptly at 11 a.m. with a pool of seven and by 12.30 p.m. we had a winner. But it must be mentioned the fencing was of a good standard and at times at a very high level, especially the barrage between Barry and Brian for the trophy. The score went to four against each and Barry took advantage of a short parry to win the event. Brian was second and Tony and Michael A. were third equal.

In the half hour before lunch the one-hit epee event took place and,as the rules included the possiblilty of both combatants being eliminated by a double hit, the result was that nobody won – or as someone suggested, everybody won!

The sabre event got off to a good start in the afternoon and there were some excellent sabre exchanges. More of a spirited debate than a conversation of blades!

The Tournament dinner in the baronial setting at ‘Scotia’ rounded off an exciting day of fencing with the trophy and awards presented beneath crossed highland broadswords.

Naseby Mid-Winter Tournament

The Weekend in Naseby has been cancelled!  But not the tournament.  The Royal Naseby Fencing Tournament will be fought in Dunedin as an extension  to our usual Saturday session.

The reason for the change is that it was difficult to get accommodation in Naseby on any of the weekends we wanted it.  But we will start early to organise it for next year so long-johns can be packed away again for the next twelve months.

The Tournament will be held at the Arthur Street Hall on the 28th June. In the evening the usual formal dinner will be  held to present the awards.  If you didn’t get an email from Brian and would like to attend the dinner contact him and confirm your intention.

The Masters Games

The Full MontyWhere were you?

The fencing section of the Masters Games was held at the Otago Boys High gymnasium in Dunedin In the first weekend of February – and hailed as a great success especially by those from outside Dunedin. Contestants came from as far away as Auckland and Hamilton and the organisers breathed a sigh of relief when they commented about the efficient organisation and the friendliness of the event. It was great fencing and a lot of good fellowship.

We were a bit ambitious with the programme as we didn’t get to the academic and drawing room fencing as we had planned. On the Saturday we managed to get through the foil events and on the Sunday we completed the sabre and epee competitions. Medals were presented thick and fast.

On the Saturday night the medals clinked and jingled around the dinner table. We had squeezed our way into a small restaurant to commemorate the games and the birthdate of Domenico Angelo with a meal, good company and a moderate amount of good wine. Awards were awarded, acquaintances were re-acquainted and fencing stories retold.

If you’re not there in 2010 you’ll miss a great event – one even better than this year’s

1st Day of Spring

It was a beautiful warm day but we had promised to fence indoors at Knox College. We had decided to make an exception to our rule of not coaching beginners, to help out the college students who had showed enthusiasm but were having trouble attending beginners’ classes at Claymore on Sundays.Some of us had never been to Knox College and the view (see photo gallery) of the building from the car park was impressive.

Inside, Cameron Hall proved to be an ideal venue for visual fencing – elegant and old-worldy, so the event got off to a good start. Tony took the coaching session – simple lunges from quarte, sixte and octave. Following this we fenced in a round-robin, using and practising the activities from the coaching session – as far as possible. Bouts to conclude the time helped to explain and practice skills in judging and presiding.

The Museum Café was the venue for lunch – good food, good company and good conversation

The Royal Naseby Fencing Tournament

Foils, Flood and Food
Most of the Salle’s members fighting in the Royal Naseby Tournament arrived at the Royal Hotel on Friday night and gathered in the Bar, to warm up after the trip from Dunedin and to get away from the frozen snow covering Naseby. Lots of laughter and stories but an early night allowed the curlers to take over the bar.

Next morning, as early as can be expected under the extreme conditions, adjudicators, seconds and duellists gathered in the main street of the town. This was Anton’s public duel for his membership. He fought with honour, against the Salle’s champion, Tony, and was duly admitted.

Banners and devices aloft the gathering paraded to the Town Hall to start the tournament proper. Foils clashed as the pool got under-way and the score sheet started to fill. As the fencers warmed up there was some neat and exciting fencing. A pool of nine takes some time to complete so we adjourned to the local hostelry for lunch.

Returning after lunch we were met at the door by a wave of water. A pipe had burst and covered the piste with two inches of water. Michael broke the stunned silence with “I think I’ll leave my gumboots on for the next bout”. With all hands to the pump – well brooms and buckets really – the excess water was swept out the door, towels soaked up the remainder and in under an hour the floor was ready for fencing again.

The afternoon saw clashes for the minor placings as the score sheet showed who was obviously in the first four. The floor was better to fence on, washed of the powder applied for the dance the weekend before. But the flood had taken its toll: the sabre event couldn’t be run because there was no time left if we were to dress for dinner.

The meal was at the ‘Welcome Inn’, one of Naseby’s oldest hotels, now cared for as a private house by Sam and Wendy Inder. They provided a most elegant meal (including pork, duck and venison), Maurie Angelo provided the speeches, and wine and good company combined to make a very enjoyable evening. Mike Geary was presented with an Award of Honour for his services to Salle Angelo, Anton with his membership certificate and Tony Williams with the main award of the night – the winner of the foil event in the Royal Naseby Fencing Tournament.

The traditional morning after coffee was observed, not in the usual venue with Gio and Ruth as the house’s vitals had frozen but in their motel at the Ancient Briton.

Thanks Barry for all the organisation – we had a really good weekend.
Photos in the Photo Gallery

Fencing on a Winter’s Morning

On Saturday the 7th of July the sun rose (about 8.20) on a cold and frosty Dunedin. The low, golden sun and blue sky promised a fine day and the weather forecast promised that the temp would rise to 8 degrees Celsius. But the sun would have to work hard to melt the remnants of snow.

Fortunately, by 11 am the quad outside the hall where we meet for fencing was drying out and it was going to be warmer fencing outside in the sun than inside. So we did.

For the first half hour we warmed up with free play and then Barry had an idea. Because only five of us could get to fencing he thought that we could form a square of four with the fifth person keeping time. After 3 minutes we all rotated one place in the square where we had a new opponent, the time-keeper coming in as number one and the fourth person into the time-keeper’s place.

It worked well, each person acknowledging a hit against them and also acknowledging a flat hit. After 12 minutes of continuous fighting I was feeling the strain but Barry then suggested we do the same with another weapon – epée. After another 12 minutes of continuous fencing I felt sufficiently exercised, and somewhat relieved that it was lunch-time and too late for a sabre round

A great morning’s fencing. All done in the spirit of the Salle and none the less competitive for that.