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Thread: In What Country did Fencing Originate?

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    In What Country did Fencing Originate?

    Hey,

    Dumb question, I know.
    The club sports newspaper at my school is doing some segment on the origins of each sport and needs to know in what country fencing originated.

    My google skills tell me it is "sword fighting in Egypt", but I would have thought it was France or something.

    Wikipedia, however, says Germany..

    Honestly, I don't really care, but I need to know for this newspaper.
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    Senior Member MyrddinsPrecint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookeit View Post
    Hey,

    Dumb question, I know.
    The club sports newspaper at my school is doing some segment on the origins of each sport and needs to know in what country fencing originated.

    My google skills tell me it is "sword fighting in Egypt", but I would have thought it was France or something.

    Wikipedia, however, says Germany..

    Honestly, I don't really care, but I need to know for this newspaper.
    IIRC, Nick Evangelista says Egypt. Others say other things. It depends on a lot of things. Like what you define as "fencing" and what you define as "hitting each other with sticks". Pick an expert, cite expert. "Fencing scholar blahblah claims fencing started in...", move on with your life.

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    Senior Member erooMynohtnA's Avatar
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    As MP states, there are many different answers depending on how you define fencing.

    There are also a lot of different answers on who you ask. For instance, if you ask a German, Germany is the most likely answer. French will most likely say France; Hungarians, Hungary.

    Italy or France are good standbys if you don't want to do the research.
    >:U

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    WGH
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    Quote Originally Posted by erooMynohtnA View Post
    As MP states, there are many different answers depending on how you define fencing.

    There are also a lot of different answers on who you ask. For instance, if you ask a German, Germany is the most likely answer. French will most likely say France; Hungarians, Hungary.

    Italy or France are good standbys if you don't want to do the research.
    If you're talking about epee and foil... I'd say that Italy is your best bet. Both are foyning weapons descendant from the rapier, which has a pretty distinctive method of use compared to previous cut/thrust weapons. Sure the greeks, romans and egyptians had thrusting swords... mostly very short stout weapons that would be used very differently from the rapier.

    Now Sabre... heck if I know. India or Persia I'd think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WGH View Post
    If you're talking about epee and foil... I'd say that Italy is your best bet. Both are foyning weapons descendant from the rapier, which has a pretty distinctive method of use compared to previous cut/thrust weapons. Sure the greeks, romans and egyptians had thrusting swords... mostly very short stout weapons that would be used very differently from the rapier.

    Now Sabre... heck if I know. India or Persia I'd think.
    Except that the epee is a french invention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookeit View Post
    Hey,

    Dumb question, I know.
    The club sports newspaper at my school is doing some segment on the origins of each sport and needs to know in what country fencing originated.

    My google skills tell me it is "sword fighting in Egypt", but I would have thought it was France or something.

    Wikipedia, however, says Germany..

    Honestly, I don't really care, but I need to know for this newspaper.
    I think it depends on what they mean by "fencing". I assume they mean the modern sport in which case [briefly] it was just a progression from training to use a smallsword. You could say that this would have happened in just about every European country individually and I seriously doubt* the rules were the same until the FIE** issued it's first codified rules. So your other option is that founding of the FIE*** - which was in Ghent according to the FIE. I've seen it in a couple of books but I've never been great at remembering specific dates.

    Edit: I over came laziness and looked it up on the FIE site. Please take a look at this:

    http://www.fie.ch/Fencing/History.aspx

    * I don't have any books to hand to check.
    ** or whatever it was called back then.
    *** And seeing as I've assumed the modern sport then it seems quite logical to me to take this date.
    Last edited by Gav; 03-03-2010 at 06:19 AM.

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    There were no countries when it was invented.

    Seriously, though, I have my doubts about Egypt. Most of their hand weapons were cutting or chopping implements. Unless you count spears, I suspect that any stabbing hand weapons they had would have been closer to daggers than swords. The Bronze Age Minoan and Celtic "rapiers" mostly were quite short. That makes any 'fencing' more of a knife fight than sword combat.

    My vote would be for Crete or Ireland, but then their weapons were mostly used with shields for defense.

    For actual fencing, I'd say it's difficult to pin down. In the 'modern' sense of both offense and defense with the sword, I'd nominate Spain, whence the word 'rapier' is thought to derive. It's thought that it spread from there to Italy and France at around the same time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata View Post
    There were no countries when it was invented.

    Seriously, though, I have my doubts about Egypt. Most of their hand weapons were cutting or chopping implements. Unless you count spears, I suspect that any stabbing hand weapons they had would have been closer to daggers than swords. The Bronze Age Minoan and Celtic "rapiers" mostly were quite short. That makes any 'fencing' more of a knife fight than sword combat.

    My vote would be for Crete or Ireland, but then their weapons were mostly used with shields for defense.

    For actual fencing, I'd say it's difficult to pin down. In the 'modern' sense of both offense and defense with the sword, I'd nominate Spain, whence the word 'rapier' is thought to derive. It's thought that it spread from there to Italy and France at around the same time.
    I actually think it's pointless talking about the development of the sword. I think that's a seperate idea to fencing. People will compete and train over anything. I'd be willing to bet that Ugg the caveman and his mate Grrrargh would have set up some rules when they were mucking about with clubs.

    Even though the history of the sword is a really interesting topic!

    Roman gladiators apparently had rules that we would recognise as governing the conditions of their bouts (though obviously more danger of death).

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    Yes, I was only half-joking with that "there were no countries yet" bit.
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    Gav
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata View Post
    Yes, I was only half-joking with that "there were no countries yet" bit.
    Yeah well I did guffaw a little...

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    Howdy. The answer to your question is straightforward: Texas.

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    Senior Member MyrddinsPrecint's Avatar
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    IIRC, Evangelista's Egypt argument has something to do with the training regimen and face covering, not just the size, shape, and use of whatever kind of sword they were using.

    What? Some friend bought me his swords and girls book one christmas for a secret santa thing! He wasn't a fencer, and is well known for buying crap gifts anyway.... It's not like I have it with me right now, clearly...

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    I am insulted that you didn't ask me....insulted my friend .

    Yes there was Egyptian stick fighting. But I generally think that "Fencing" started when they started calling it "fencing".

    Fencing is a derivative of the word defense. The Italians were the first to come up with a codified method of defense, and thus the masters were called masters of defense. The first time the word "Fence" is mentioned is in Shakespeare ("Alas sir, I cannot fence"). So, defence was shortened to fence and thus we arrive at the modern word of "fencing". So I would say Italy.

    Drew

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    Quote Originally Posted by masker View Post
    Howdy. The answer to your question is straightforward: Texas.
    Texas is not a country.

    California, on the other hand, is a country and did invent fencing.


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    If California is a country it's fiscally Greece.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gav View Post
    Except that the epee is a french invention.
    Well the word sure is french. I think you would be pretty hard pressed to make a strong case that epee appeared from the ether without development through the rapier and smallsword, though. Granted the old rapier masters thought the arm a pretty rubbish target, but that just evolved from a change of what constitutes a victory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiat Slug View Post

    California, on the other hand, is a country and did invent fencing.

    Sorry, pahdnuh. Fact: Fencing was first employed by Texans wielding bowie-foils in their valiant defense of the nation of Texas at the Alamo from that bastard Santa Anna in 1836. Fact: This predates the establishment of the People's Republic of California by a good 375 years.

    edit: I have to admit that it turns out bowie-foils aren't as effective against rifles and cannons as you'd think.
    Last edited by masker; 03-03-2010 at 11:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gav View Post
    Edit: I over came laziness and looked it up on the FIE site. Please take a look at this:

    http://www.fie.ch/Fencing/History.aspx
    Some interesting stuff there. Andre Maginot (of later Maginot Line fame) was the 2nd elected head of the FIE. All FIE records were taken to Berlin by the Nazis during WWII and have never been found.
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    Senior Member Superscribe's Avatar
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    Why don't you just talk about the origin of Olympic Fencing as a Sport? The country that promoted it with the majority of the rules we know today. Would that be easier?
    Everyone relax cause I got it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Superscribe View Post
    Why don't you just talk about the origin of Olympic Fencing as a Sport? The country that promoted it with the majority of the rules we know today. Would that be easier?
    This is the way to go. Fencing is not necessarily training with a sword; define it as the sport, and you just have to find out who were the first to have rules and keep score.
    - Wisdom is the knowledge of how much you don't know.

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