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Thread: Hungarian sabre fencing style

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    Hungarian sabre fencing style

    May I have some (actually detailed) information about Hungarian sabre fencing style? Like their en guard position, attack, defense...etc. and the advantages and disadvantages...Thank you very very much.

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Wot d'ye mean, African swallow or Eur---er, classic Hungarian or modern Hungarian?
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    He means 18th century Austro-Hungarian.

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    Because a saber fencer from the Austo-Hungarian empire has obviously joined his club, and he wants to know how to defeat him....
    Last edited by Capt. Slo-mo; 04-04-2007 at 08:30 PM.
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    Senior Member Hollywood Troy's Avatar
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    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure someone will...) but isn't the style that most of us fence based on Hungarian? I thought sabre back in the day was from the arm and elbow and the Hungarian style started the era of the wrist, as well as the running attack.

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    Senior Member piste off's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood Troy View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure someone will...) but isn't the style that most of us fence based on Hungarian? I thought sabre back in the day was from the arm and elbow and the Hungarian style started the era of the wrist, as well as the running attack.
    I think the key phrase here is "based on", in which case I think the answer is yes. Ironically, the "modern" Hungarian school was really developed by an Italian - Italo Santelli (father of the one that moved to America).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italo_Santelli

    I had the good fortune to have learned under Lajos Csiszar, who was his right hand guy and hand-picked to succeed him as the Hungarian coach in the 1940s (he helped coach some of the greats like Karpati and Gerevich).

    When I watch today's sabre I see the influences... but the rule changes and move to electric make for a different game than when I took sabre lessons (one big difference is you could fleche back then, and this was a big part of the game).

    The style Csiszar tought was pretty aggressive, and his best fencers in all weapons tended to have this trait (watch Walter Dragonetti in epee). He was a big proponent of an en guarde stance that was weight-forward (easily 70/30 - and if you stop by U of Penn's fencing room there is probably still the drawing he made to show the right position).

    The position of the on-guard is not what I would call classic. He did not seem to mind if your thumb was at 10 o'clock and if your elbow was out a bit. Point always facing the opponent.

    The lessons included a lot of big actions because back then (1970s and 80s) sabre was dry and directors had to SEE the hit (not that small ones were not included, and he always had stop hits/cuts somewhere in the mix).

    That said, he was a master at teaching "the shortest distance" and was militant about the use of fingers and in particular the thumb. Cuts were made with a kind of rolling action of the hand, squeezing with the thumb as the final hit was made.

    Not sure what else to say. I have been out of fencing for about 12 years and have only recently watched current sabre. It seems to have some of the influences from the Hungarian school, but the game is somewhat different (electric, no fleche) than when I studied it.

    Rick
    Last edited by piste off; 04-04-2007 at 05:06 PM.
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    Senior Member Captain Hook's Avatar
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    I thought the Hungarian system was based on the Italian system?

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    That's what piste off just said - Italo was (wait for it....) Italian. Excellent post, piste off!
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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Well, in THAT sense, sure.

    In a systemic sense, though, the Hungarian game was rather a reaction against the Italian one than an evolution from it. 20th century adherents to the former tended to characterize the latter as slow, cumbersome and lacking in subtlety---and that's when they were feeling generous. Charles Selberg gave a good synopsis of the view in the brief appendix to his old "Advanced Sabre Lesson" videotape, if anyone is interested.
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    Senior Member jeff's Avatar
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    Not that there's anything remotely nationalistic or uncharitable about such observations, eh?

    The dramatically different forms of fencing I've seen named as "Italian sabre" makes me wonder what kind of divergence occurred, when, and where...
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, theory and practice are different."

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    Senior Member Captain Hook's Avatar
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    whoops, should teach me to skim read

    didn't see the name Santelli in the previous post

    some coaches in the UK teach the hungarian system and are still pushing it even though the whole malarky caused a lot of coaching qualification problems

    I heard at one point the Hungarian system wasn't complete as they didn't have Italian foil or epee

    My coach describes it as a bastardised system probably more in line with what Inq just said

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    My understanding is that the characteristic of the hungarian school in general is an attempt to combine both the Italian and French fencing traditions. An example of this is Vass' epee which uses names and techniques from both schools to construct a system.

    As far as I know, when Santelli went to Hungary he adapted his traditionally Schola Magistrale sabre style to what was currently in existance in the native Hungarian style. I haven't done the research on this, but my understanding is that he used the hungarian 3rd, 5th and 4th parry triangle rather than the traditionally italian one of 1st, 5th and 2nd. In addition the Hungarians at some point (not sure when) abandoned the use of the circular cuts (from the elbow... and which were capable of generating more force) due to the fact that it took too long to teach them, and that they were not very useful in competition. This is probably related to the hungarian parry system, since it does not lend itself to circular cuts the way the italian one does. The use of a tightening of the hand to execute cuts that Piste Off describes is present in the classical Italian school, and I believe is credited to Radaelli, but i am not sure.

    I would argue that the modern Hungarian/Eastern European style of fencing is a product of Soviet analysis of fencing as a sport and a simplifying of the system to be most effective in olympic competition. Thus, the style that we term as "hungarian" is a complex combination of the traditional Hungarian sabre fencing, late 19th century Italian fencing, and modern Soviet science producing a style that is eminently modern.

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    Senior Member riceboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Hook View Post
    I heard at one point the Hungarian system wasn't complete as they didn't have Italian foil or epee
    By the same notion one could attack the French School, since they never did have very strong sabre...

    The only true school is the Italian!!!!!!

    Seriously, if we discounted any system of fencing because they were not strong in one of the weapons there would be no systems of fence at all. Besides all modern systems are combinations of influences from each of the major historic schools. We use what works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff View Post
    The dramatically different forms of fencing I've seen named as "Italian sabre" makes me wonder what kind of divergence occurred, when, and where...
    Yeah. Apparently there is a modern "Italian style", which seems to be nothing more than a descriptive for "what the Italian sabre fencers do".

    The one I mean is what Barbasetti and others taught. The stance was much more side-on than other sabre styles use, the blade more advanced and the arm more extended, the hand pronated. Lots of molinellos, and as riceboy noted a much different parry "box"...
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    Senior Member piste off's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by riceboy View Post
    I haven't done the research on this, but my understanding is that he used the hungarian 3rd, 5th and 4th parry triangle rather than the traditionally italian one of 1st, 5th and 2nd.
    Yes... 3, 5 and 4 were the primary parries Csiszar tought in sabre. I don't know enough about the other schools to comment on/contrast to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by riceboy View Post
    I would argue that the modern Hungarian/Eastern European style of fencing is a product of Soviet analysis of fencing as a sport and a simplifying of the system to be most effective in olympic competition. Thus, the style that we term as "hungarian" is a complex combination of the traditional Hungarian sabre fencing, late 19th century Italian fencing, and modern Soviet science producing a style that is eminently modern.
    Doesn't what we normally think of as "the Hungarian style" pre-date the (outright) Soviet domination of Hungary? Weren't the great Hungarian coaches who came West of roughly 1956 vintage?

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    That's exactly right - for example, Csaba Elthes. Also, look at Olympic records for years preceding 1956 where Hungary was dominating sabre.

    Besides, consider decades earlier Nadi writing that fencing had to be stripped of unnecessary complexity and simplified to use the most effective techniques. So, it's not unknown to the Italians either. What we're talking about is 20th century practitioners achieving higher levels of athleticism and discarding traditional elements of fencing that were obsolete.
    Last edited by jeff; 04-07-2007 at 09:29 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Hook View Post
    My coach describes it as a bastardised system probably more in line with what Inq just said
    Opposed to the fantastic British system? Unfortunately this is an example of the sad lack of understanding the majority of fencing coaches in the UK when it comes to fencing methodology.
    Hungarian Technique in sabre isn't vastly different from that of other styles, the similiarities between Russian/Soviet styles is due to the Soviets importing Hungarian coaches in the 50's.

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    I'm still trying to figure out how not having Italian foil or epee is a failure of the Hungarian Sabre system.

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