changes to priorty interpretation?

Discussion in 'Rules and Referee Questions' started by anton_fairfax, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. keropie

    keropie Podium

    Sep 10, 2005
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I don't think anyone specifically wants to exclude you, or for you to exclude yourself. I, for one, have no idea who you are (and I'm fine with that).

    However, you seem displeased with the state of, let's call it 'competitive foil.' However, there are a great many people (referees, fencers, and coaches) who have a large amount of agreement and general happiness, with the way foil is currently interpreted. Certainly not everyone, and many people have some changes they would like to see, but general consensus exists. In fact, your example above is remarkably unlikely to be seen as attack or line from the left by most people who participate in 'competitive foil.' (I assure you had the official called that for the left, FotR and his coach would have flipped out).

    You have made passionate arguments for strictly adhering to the rulebook; that's not crazy. However, that's not where current 'competitive foil' is. The rulebook is, in the opinion of many, too stagnant and represents an older style of fencing that is not practiced in 'competitive foil.' It's not that it's wrong, it's just that it's different.

    And it's not that it's better, per se; but unless/until more people in the power structure of international fencing agree with your stance, it's not going to change.

    I will say the tone of your arguments (and ccadet's) do not translate all that well. Perhaps it is the language, or perhaps it's your actual opinion, but the tone feels like you are both saying that anyone who agrees with the current interpretations in 'competitive foil' is some combination of stupid, dishonest, immoral, and wrong. While many of us might have some of those qualities, it's not accurate to say that's most or all of us, or that that's why we practice 'competitive foil.'

    I hope that you (and ccadet) find some fulfillment either in current fencing, an improved fencing, or where ever; but nothing so far from either of you have convinced me that current foil would be improved by a strict reading of the rulebook (and honestly, the rulebook is really not a well written document).
    DangerMouse likes this.
  2. posineg

    posineg DE Bracket

    Nov 10, 2011
    Norwich, CT
    I think that is the point some people are agreeing over. We train the basics and learn the rules... then we have to train for the game because reasons? In the referenced clip above, what is there to say that FoR was attacking (until FoL touched)? I see many H.S kids taking advantage of the "view" with directors condoning such actions and making a attack into prep a impossibility and moving Foil into a Saber game(sorry saber, you are just go.go.go like two rams).
  3. keropie

    keropie Podium

    Sep 10, 2005
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Sure; based on the rulebook (primarily not making an attack with a bent arm), this action isn't attack from right. But the current convention, which I believe is well communicated to active referees in the US, would be attack from right. FotR is progressing forward, and FotL is progressing backwards. At some point, FotL extends somewhat (not fully; there is still bend in the arm; hence, this is not a point in line), and continues backwards. Eventually, FotL decides to 'attack' (move forward and lunge). FotR finishes his immediate step, makes a lunge (very poor technique, not pretty, but it's a lunge), and hits. So, FotR has completed an advance lunge, and FotL has 'attacked' in between the advance and the lunge. Based on current convention FotR does not (for me) make a mistake or search in response to FotL, so we have attack with advance lunge vs. counterattack with advance lunge (FotR's advance precedes that of FotL, so FotR is attacking). Both hit.

    I'm not saying there's anything pretty about that touch. But again, in a large group of people who fence at large regional events, national events, and international events, you'll get a very high amount of agreement that that is attack from the right. The fact that there are some people or some populations that disagree is an issue, but it speaks to perhaps updating the rulebook, or better education/examples for everyone to be on the same page.

    Also, for what it's worth, getting that action in the video called as attack into preparation is MUCH more likely in saber. Current convention in saber is to be tighter with mistakes with the hand, especially delay, while in foil that is more forgiven due to the relative difficulty of getting point on target and causing a light to register (both due to the need for point contact, and the challenges with the current timing).
  4. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

    May 6, 2005
    Durham, NC
    I learned the "basics" and learned the game of foil fencing in the early 1990s. I learned some rules, like the boundaries of the strip, covering target, and how long bouts last, and I competed and practiced off-and-on for years. I didn't actually sit down and read the rule book until I finally decided to attend a referee seminar, and that was over 10 years after I first started fencing. Perhaps that experience is what affects my point of view. I already understood the game that we were playing before I looked at the rules, and it never bothered me that the written rules didn't exactly describe the conventions of the actual game as it is played.

    I really do understand the frustration of training for one set of rules and then encountering a different set of rules in competition. For me, that used to happen because of the variation in how referees were calling the action between local tournaments and national tournaments. Now that there's less variation in the conventions of right-of-way at local, national, and international tournaments, that problem seems largely solved. In fact, this thread started with a referee who was trying to stay up-to-date with subtle shifts in the convention, which is great.

    Any fundamental change to the conventions of right-of-way as it is currently called would be a massive change for all of the tens of thousands of actively competing foil fencers and their coaches. Why make that change? What's the goal? If the problem is that the rules don't match how right-of-way is called, it seems much easier to me to keep the game as it is currently played the same and just change the document to match.

    Thought experiment: imagine for a moment that we were able to change the rules to match the way that foil is currently played. If we did that, and the referees' current right-of-way calls matched the rules, then would you be satisfied? If not, why not? Is there some other goal for changing the game that we're playing other than just making the calls more clearly match the written rules?
  5. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

    Dec 30, 2005
    Staten Island NY
    In Malicia's video, the call is: preparation from the right, attack from the left. The referee's call was wrong. (Anyone disagree?) Fencer on the Left was fully extended before Right twitched.
    Bad call.
    Not a challenge to our understanding of the rules.
    The rules as cited here define attack distance as advance-lunge distance. That is implied by the statement that the attack is correctly executed if, in an attack with step lunge, the extension begins before the beginning of the lunge. That means an attack with step lunge is an attack. And that such an attack begins with the extension, but if it begins after the beginning to the lunge, it is not correctly executed.
    The rest of the trouble seems to me to derive from the distinction between extended and extending. Right now, the interpretation is that the attack begins with the beginning of the extension, not the end of it. This should be written into the rules, but it is already clearly implied. So in this regard, nothing in the written rules needs to change.
    ccadet likes this.
  6. Michael Comte

    Michael Comte DE Bracket

    Feb 28, 2019
    If you consider a fencer going forward with a bent arm as an attack, foil becomes very boring. The necessity of extending your arm to make an attack gives your opponent the opportunity to parry, an so on. Like in Poker, you pay to see.

    Without that, you loose all the idea of the convention.
  7. Mitchell

    Mitchell is a Verified Fencing ExpertMitchell hi Staff Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    Quick reminder that the broad conventions of foil Right of Way are not dictated by individual video clips of difficult actions. Those tight, ambiguous, difficult actions can swing in either direction depending on the referee(s).

    Right of Way and foil conventions are dictated by the easy, common touches that referees have agreed upon, call consistently, and train themselves to call consistently.

    Weather is not climate, as it were.

    Most of foil convention is built on top of t.83.2.3 and t.88 (in my opinion).
    DangerMouse and anton_fairfax like this.
  8. Michael Comte

    Michael Comte DE Bracket

    Feb 28, 2019
    The cases showed by Malicia are not difficult, they are obvious, easy to judge, this is why it is shocking to see the referee descision
  9. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

    Dec 30, 2005
    Staten Island NY
    A bad call is just a bad call. If you watch any sport assiduously, you've seen worse.
  10. ccadet

    ccadet Made the Cut

    Mar 19, 2019
    And if change, there will be amount of agreement and general happiness with the "new old competitive way of foil"

    + That's not interpreted, that's just new rules that don't respect the logic of fencing.
    That's the reason why FIE technical director add time to blocking 0,7 to 0,3, and FIE director on massive error during a final accepted video, etc : To see less bad refereeing call = That's they said...
    But they(FIE) don't understand from 20year. Problem is no technical help or issue, problem is FIE referee themself, and we see them doing more bad add than before technical help, pulled down the level of refereeing (with "consensus").
    And now, we got video to prouve it, and we do, even if you don't understand.

    Now, what's the solution ? Accept no more fencing way of fence ? That's you say. Ok, i'm agree if FIE said it and clarify "new convention". And because it's stupid, they will not do it. Im not afraid of his.
    Just waitting, from 20y, fixing a problem... And it's hard because now "common rules" don't help.

    The rulebook is changed all year, many commission is done for this (by Technical Directory FIE), as you see, there are trying something for "no combativity". And you are agree, referee must try apply that new rules, no ?
    And the article that's not convinced you, where written by the Technical Director FIE. (Who said, "that's not more fencing")
    I'm agree that's represents an older styl of fencing, but that's styl praticed in competitive foil. (1 of the 3 of referee applies this WE on Normandie regional competition. And the 2 other said : I do the same than FIE referee, even if i find it stupid. On nationnal, that's more 10-20%.) and more, pretty all learn older styl than adapt it in "competitive".
    That's is different, because one try applie rules and other not.
    And that's wrong because that's not according with rules. (And not a interpretation, or an evolution. That's an other sport that is no more fencing, because fencing is logical, has rules and you no more use them.)

    I'm agree, with combination, is for people who know the rules, who know the logical of fencing and don't care.
    I'm agree that's more real for the people FIE (who's forced other to follow them by incentives) than regional referee.
    I'm agree that's fencer incentives is the win. And morale change for this goal. "common rules" is all they want to know and respect.
    But i'm referee, i'm not stupid (im not sheep and i know read and interprete), i know history of foil, and i don't understand how other referee (FIE) can interprete as they do. (And i can understand sheep logic, but that's not clever)

    It's not perfect, but it's better than some stupid (cause is it) interpretation (without any writed document) of what should be foil made by ??? (Some people in obsur refereing commision (less than 20 peoples ?))

    FOIL is and weapon sport, carries with arm... Attack is a convention, do with weapon and arm. Without this, we don't talk about "competitve foil", we talk about some people who corrupt it. "corrupt foil" ? or "body priority with a foil"
    The convention of attack is clear, that's not step-forward, hiding blade, waitting "counter-attack".
    That's interpretation is out of convention and out of the rules.

    We are agree, just tedious to see the same (easy) bad call done by the supposed best referee
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  11. ccadet

    ccadet Made the Cut

    Mar 19, 2019
    I'm agree. and extended arm threatening target is an "point in line". (fortunately or not, you don't give be "point in line" to attack, all is about arm and weapon)

    PS : And if you want to talk about amelioration of rules (or interpretation) = I think,
    ... extending should not start if the elbow is backward body, and can begin only on position "en garde" (referee could take reference on correct position at the "Prêt" if one abuse, he can say it here) or with elbow forward. (Because it could be a probleme of interpretation and give incentives get elbow backward and start attack without really begin anything...)
    That's just idea, not in the rules. For technical directory FIE. (and add this rules can forced FIE referee to review what's criterious of attack ^^) or for common rules...
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  12. ccadet

    ccadet Made the Cut

    Mar 19, 2019
    Ok, the rules just come from the convention...

    According to Wittgenstein, philosophical problems arise when language is forced from its proper home into a metaphysical environment, where all the familiar and necessary landmarks and contextual clues are removed.'escrime

    The convention with foil
    The foil convention was adopted in Paris on June 12, 1914 by the Fleuret Commission of the International Fencing Federation under the direction of the Italian G. Ettore.
    The rules governing the foil prints issued at the electric touch-screen tester were added in 1957.
    The foil (like the saber) is a conventional weapon. Unlike the sword, the shooter who hits first is not necessarily the one who carries the point. The key is given according to a principle of priority. The shooter who correctly executes the attack (that is, the initial offensive action) has priority over any other action and therefore carries the point. The attacked shooter has no alternative but to parry the attack and retaliate or take advantage of a poor execution of the attack to regain the priority. In case of simultaneous touch, no point is recorded. The foil is a thrust weapon only. The valid surface consists exclusively of the trunk (legs, arms and head are therefore excluded).

    google translate is bad... But, what's foil in convention :
    The fencer who correctly executes the attack has priority over any other action.
    The defender has no alternative but to parry, avoid or take advantage of a poor execution of the attack to regain the priority.

    And convention give the definition of attack : "The initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent with the point"

    Please, read this : "According to Wittgenstein, philosophical problems arise when language is forced from its proper home into a metaphysical environment, where all the familiar and necessary landmarks and contextual clues are removed."
    You really need it to understand why you don't understand.

    If a new convention is adopted, i want to know it. And who did it ? I think, that's you call convention is common rules another time.
    I love english... We said rules, ok we got common rules. We said convention, ok we got common rules.
    Why do you defend common rules ? Because common rules rules himself !
    What's the base of common rules ? FIE referee, and what's the referance for referee ? common rules ! Circulare argument ?
    And how change common rules so ? by another error of some referee ? Little bit weard...

    USA like to make new rules (American football ?), I love ameriacan football (and don't like soccer). But If the rules said it's soccer, and refereeing do American football.
    I want a schism, or make the refereeing applies the rules. And if you want play American football, np, but not in my game rules with convention of soccer ! That's all !
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  13. Malicia

    Malicia DE Bracket

    Mar 19, 2019
    You have understood a game that somebody has explained to you.
    But, this game, was it fencing ?
    In french, we say that foil is a conventional weapon. In fact, it means that rules (convention) learn you how to fence correctly.

    If you mean that we could change the rules in order to accept that a step could be called an attack, I would never be satisfied.

    There are some truths in fencing: we can compromise for security, nothing else.
    First, fencing is to preserve yourself (escrime in french means to defend yourself, and fencing too, in english).
    To preserve yourself, you can attack (the best defence can be the attack), or you can defend (parry...).
    So, you will never attack if you are not sure to be safe, to preserve yourself.

    For example, It’s pity that the referee have given the priority to the left fencer (Video 2H9min6sec)
    The referee doesn't understand the rules, but more serious, he doesn't understand fencing.

    I don’t need any rules (the official FIE’s rules) to say that the right fencer has attacked, and the left fencer has committed suicide.
    Fortunately, the official FIE’s rules are logical – unfortunately, international referees are not.

    (By the way, I have tried to rewrite rules, but I have keeped the "fencing truths")

    A bad call could be a mistake. That’s not mistakes, international referees have chosen to break the rules (and the fencing logic).
    Michael Comte and Grey Sabreur like this.
  14. s.brookes

    s.brookes Made the Cut

    Jan 1, 2010
    Me @ this thread

  15. wwittman

    wwittman DE Bracket

    Jan 29, 2019
    Apologies in advance for a baseball analogy, but:

    The actual rules define the strike zone.
    But virtually NONE of the current crop of umpires calls the top of said strike zone as a strike.

    As the pitcher (or manager) you can whinge about it or you can not try to throw the high strike and expect the call.
  16. anton_fairfax

    anton_fairfax Made the Cut

    Mar 2, 2017
    Newcastle, Australia
    I'm not sure that any argument that relies on the philosophy of Wittgenstein belongs in the rules and referree forum.....

    In any case - my final thought on this topic-
    There seems to be a general consensus that the way foil is currently called works well, and is well understood at all levels. There is obviously a group who disagree, my guess is they are a minority. I just don't get what litigating the rule book ad nauseum accomplishes. I think those who disagree with current convention just want the sport to be played and reffed differently - how they think it should be - rather than how it is.

    Those who like foil as is, will rely on current interpretations; those who don’t like it, will wave the rule book around saying "extension of the arm" over and over… ultimately, "fencers" (whoever they are) get to decide what "fencing" is (whatever that means) and how it's played. Why force everyone to play a sport differently to how the majority wants to, just because of anachronistic or arcane rules? That question isn't how is foil played, that question is, how SHOULD it be played. And I personally think its fine how it is.

    It appears consistent (in relative terms…) at my club, my state, my country, and certainly appears consistent watching international comps, so the foil community from the top down seem to be on the same page, but there will always be exceptions/objectors/bad calls etc. But I dont see the point in arguing about this any further, I have fencing to do! (to the distant, vanishing cries of "but thats not fenciiiiing....")
  17. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Jul 12, 2001
    Somewhere in your nightmares!
    There is theory, and there is practical application. We argue theory, but conform to practical application; that is, we want the rules strictly called as written, but in fencing we just do as the refs want us to do and the way they will call things.

    But we do like to argue about the theory. :)
    anton_fairfax likes this.
  18. Michael Comte

    Michael Comte DE Bracket

    Feb 28, 2019
    In my club, during training or competition, our master says that going forward with a bend arm will never be an attack. If you show him a decision in the opposite way ini the olympics, he will just say the referee was wrong. As a former soviet olympic team trainer, he has the last word, nobody argues.

    In the examples given byu Malicia (300 cases examinated), there are contradictory decisions. This was the reason to change a timing a few years ago, but it didn't solve the problem. There is no consistency at all, and this was the subject of your first post: recently, the referees have changed, giving less right of way to those bend arms. There are trends and fashions in the way they judge.

    So you can go on fencing, I will do the same tomorrow, but pretending there is no foil problem is just like putting your head in the sand, many people are stopping foil because they don't understand the referees decisions.
    posineg likes this.
  19. Michael Comte

    Michael Comte DE Bracket

    Feb 28, 2019
    You can read this article for example.

    Fencing’s Spiritual Crisis: A Glimmer of Hope?
    Jim Tschen Emmons
    [published as "Fundamentally, we have gone off the track...," in Fencers Quarterly Magazine 9:3
    (Spring 2006), 26-28]
    Beset with the groans of many fencers exasperated with rule changes, with increasing
    disaffection of fencers who seek a return to fencing’s connection with actual swordplay, and with
    a ruling organization that has often treated symptoms rather than causes, fencing today is in
    crisis. In chatrooms, at clubs, and in the pages of the few periodicals devoted to the art of
    defense, one sees that something is wrong, and what is worse, little sign that the situation will
    improve. The problem is complex. On the one hand, fencing is wrestling with problems such as
    dubious techniques made possible by electrical scoring and overly flexible blades, while on the
    other, fencing struggles to maintain its place in the world of sport. If one has read the recent
    interview with the new technical director of FIE, Ioan Pop, one may see a glimmer of hope for
    fencing. In answer to the question of attacks with a bent arm in foil and sabre Pop said:
    For me, foil and sab[r]e with a bent arm is no longer conventional fencing. It is practiced
    in this way of course but this is not fencing anymore. Fencing is a dialogue between two
    fencers with actions and basic technique. However in foil at the moment, there are two
    parallel monologues instead of a dialogue. Fundamentally, we have gone way off track.
    If the action does not threaten with the point, the direct attack no longer exists, neither
    does the compound attack. From both sides we have destructive actions rather than an
    action and a reaction.1
    Pop’s position is not new, nor is it revolutionary. Attacking with an extension of the arm has
    been fundamental in virtually every treatise on fencing for six hundred years. If this is so, and it
    is, then what is Pop responding to?

    Electrical scoring allows fencers to make attacks, particularly in foil and sabre, which one
    could not make before. Nowadays, the “flick” in foil and the “slap at the bell guard” in sabre are
    established techniques in the repertoire of most competitive fencers. It used to be that if one
    made such an attack, one lost a touch. A bent arm meant that one was breaking off an attack (or
    parrying) and a point directed anywhere but at target was deemed non-threatening. Many
    fencers do not care if there is a discrepancy between these attacks and traditional fencing
    technique (most younger fencers are unaware that any such discrepancy exists), but it is a
    problem that FIE has tried to work around or solve for a number of years. Ioan Pop’s answer—
    enforce traditional fencing techniques—is not novel either, but to hear it from FIE is.
    In a follow-up question, Safre asked “Is the current situation not due to a much greater
    mobility on the piste? In other words, can we go back? Is it desirable to return to fencing as it
    was practiced in 1935 or 1955?”3 The technical director’s response is worth quoting in full:
    I am not saying that we must go back to the past. But all the same I ask the question,
    how can we expect the spectators to be interested in fencing if we no longer know what
    we are doing? We have come to a position where there is a total lack of consistency
    between the rules and the refereeing. We cannot say in the rules that the attack must be
    performed with the extended arm and then do exactly the opposite on the piste or when
    coaching. Moreover, teaching becomes superficial and minimalist. It becomes limited to
    actions that speculate and rely on the human limits of the referee’s perception instead of
    developing the basics and technical complexity of our sport.4
    Pop’s answer contains several points worth following. First, he does not believe that we need
    “go back to the past:” if we have rules and practice consistent with traditional fencing technique
    there is no need to. Second, Pop recognizes that the current rules under which competitions
    operate are not only inconsistent, but also not the answer—part of the trouble is the attitude of
    the competitors, coaches, and referees and rule changes alone will not fix that.
    One sees the depth of the crisis most clearly within the rules governing fencing and their
    enforcement. The rules for foil (t. 56), for instance, state:
    1. The simple attack, direct or indirect (cf. t.8.), is correctly executed when the
    extending of the arm, the point threatening the valid target, precedes the initiation of
    the lunge or flèche.
    2. The compound attack (cf. t.8.) is correctly executed when the arm is extending in the
    presentation of the first feint, with the point threatening the valid target, and the arm
    is not bent during the successive actions of the attack and the initiation of the lunge or
    3. The attack with the step-forward-lunge or a step-forward- fleche is correctly executed
    when the extending of the arm precedes the end of the step forward and the initiation
    of the lunge or flèche.
    4. Actions, simple or compound, steps or feints which are executed with a bent arm, are
    not considered as attacks but as preparations, laying themselves open to the initiation
    of the offensive/defensive action of the opponent (cf. t.8.).5
    Of note, these rules for judging an attack in foil use “extending” versus “extended,” a subtle, but
    significant difference in the use of the verb. “Extending” can be interpreted to mean that one can
    establish an attack without an extended arm, with an arm in the process of being extended.6 A
    director has a lot of leeway in interpreting an attack; he can call it an attack if one is in
    preparation or if one has a fully extended point. Rule four, just to complicate things, states that
    an action executed with a bent arm is preparation. Is an “extending” arm not bent? What should
    help the director, and seems so rarely to do so, is the second half of the attack: the point
    threatening the target. How, if one’s blade is behind one’s head, is one threatening target area
    with the point? It seems the easiest solution would be to change “extending” to “extended,” call
    an attack with an extending arm preparation and an attack with an extended arm, point
    threatening target, an attack.
    Enforcing this rule, and perhaps clarifying the meaning, might help eliminate “flick”
    attacks. If one starts an attack, but fails to establish an extension, or, breaks the arm after having
    extended the arm, one loses the attack. After all, “the foil is a thrusting weapon only:” what
    place is there for any other attack in foil but a thrust?7 If directors stop rewarding dubious
    touches, coaches will stop encouraging their students to make dubious touches. As few fencers,
    if any, enjoy defeat the competitors themselves will stop using “flicks” and “slaps” too.
    Sabre’s dilemma is thornier. According to rule t.70a it is permissible to make a touch in
    sabre with the flat sides of the blade: “All touches made with the cutting edge, the flat or the
    back of the blade are counted as good.”8 In layman’s terms this means that one can make a cut
    with part of the sabre that on a real weapon would not be dangerous. What explains such a
    bizarre rule is that FIE was trying to compensate for a problem with electric sabre: the problem
    of whipover. This slapping “attack” occurs when a fencer strikes either the forte or bell-guard
    with sufficient force to whip the blade around a good parry, one that had the blades been real
    would have stopped the attack.9
    Rather than treat the cause—poor fencing—FIE treated one of its symptoms. The
    assumption was that any attack that makes the light go off must be valid because the light went
  20. Michael Comte

    Michael Comte DE Bracket

    Feb 28, 2019
    off. Such logic fails to consider the fact that the blades are so flexible that they often whip
    around the guard regardless of how well one parries, a weakness in the blade that was only
    addressed later.10 This rule also hamstrings the director; even if he sees whipover, he cannot
    overrule the scoring box. Before the advent of electric sabre a director listened for the sound of
    steel on the guard or arm to help determine a touch; if he heard metal before he heard the dull
    thud of blade on fabric he knew it was whipover. As the light cannot be overruled, the director
    must now rely on the box alone, and with blades whirling at such high speeds a director needs
    the testimony of his eyes and ears too.
    Another issue Pop cites is coaching.11 In fairness to coaches, they occupy a difficult
    position. On one hand, they possess the knowledge and skills bequeathed to them by generations
    of masters, but on the other, they recognize that teaching traditional technique may hinder their
    students in competition. This should not be so, but it is. The “flick” is not part of the technical
    skills of traditional fencing, but it is an effective “attack” in competition. Even if a coach does
    not wish to teach such an attack, he must teach his fencers to defend against it otherwise they
    will be eaten alive. This is what Pop refers to when he says that coaches are teaching fencers to
    play to the rules (and to a degree, the director). I would not argue that playing to the director is
    new—the evidence, including my own competitive experiences, suggests otherwise—but the
    inconsistencies in the rules and established fencing theory have some coaches focusing more on
    how to win than on how to fence.12 Sadly, there is often a dichotomy between fencing well and
    victory and that should not be.
    At this point, simply changing the rules will not help. Fencers have to be willing to clean
    up their game, or to put it another way, start fencing rather than fly-casting for points.13 This is
    the responsibility not only of coaches, but also, and most critically of all, of fencers. The royal
    road to ratings these days may be quick with dubious attacks like the whip, but by no definition
    is it good fencing. The answer to this crisis is simple: rely on solid fundamentals.14
    Like most fencers I am under no illusions about the chances of fixing fencing's crisis.
    There is so much invested in the status quo, in what we see in the World Cup and Olympics, that
    we are unlikely to see a return to fencing built on the logic behind swordplay. The FIE cannot
    fix it, television ratings cannot fix it, wishful thinking cannot fix it, and romanticizing fencing's
    past cannot fix it either. The only possible thing that can change this is us. Fencers. We must be

    willing to put all the passion we have for fencing into the necessary training to make us not only
    champions, but into something more than that, something better than that: into good fencers.
    Victory may be victory, but how much sweeter is victory when one wins well?
    Is a return to fundamentals a return to the past? Not really, it is just living up to
    established fencing tradition. Ioan Pop is advocating that we do just that—make fencing, and the
    rules that govern it, fall back into line with the techniques fencing developed for centuries and
    which made it the great crowd pleaser it was up through the early decades of the twentieth
    century. This will mean not only taking inconsistencies out of the rulebook, but also out of our
    practice. So, write Ioan Pop and tell him you are thrilled to see FIE take a stand against sloppy
    fencing. Talk to your coach. Talk to other fencers. It is up to us, and I for one am not going
    down without a fight. What fencer would?
    Jim Tschen Emmons, Fencer

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