Deconstructing the Art and Science of Fencing - Posted

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Craig, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    "CLASSICAL FENCING" is this George Silver in some other guise? "As an example: A rushing opponent delivers a sweeping downward blow at the left side of the head or neck. This is met with a high prime parry, and nothing being less likely than a feint under such circumstances, the blow can be met deliberately, or even with a forward movement of the foot, and the assailant's sword-wrist gripped firmly with the left hand under the right as his cut is checked, and almost simultaneiously with the formation of the parry. The sword-point is then inclined to the rear over the left shoulder, and the pommel dashed into this face with terrific force, the way being further cleared for it by pressure downwards with the left hand upon the adversary's sword-arm. There are, of course, variations of this, and a man fairly practised in this class of close fighting would be able easily to combine all these movements almost into a single action."

    This sort of thing is the classical approach which I understood is typically deprecated in the game of fencing. But just being curious.
     
  2. I_luv_saber

    I_luv_saber Podium

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    Actually, they SAY it, too. That's the creepy part.
     
  3. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    Heigh-yo SILver! Away! :)

    May the gods help us, every one.
     
  4. DAchilleus

    DAchilleus Rookie

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    No, only fencing systems that apply those methods could be considered Classical with respect to their methodology. A modern sport coach could certainly use as a foundation to his method a classical approach and then tweak it for the game of fencing when his students are ready.

    Again, and again, I brought up this concept in two parts, both in order to provide a larger perspective on how the community of Classical Fencers use the term. One is an historical identifier and one is a more general methodological term. In all fairness there is a third category - those groups who simply use the term and make no appeal to either of the first two characteristics.

    RE: the OP, Evangelista is more in the methodological camp rather than the historical era camp. However, I have my own reasons for disapproving of what he teaches regardless of its relatively logical method. This strikes to the heart of the article in question: the complaints Evangelista makes are not germane to your fencing so the comparison is null (unless you, like many Veteran fencers out there would like a return to their nostalgic fencing circa 1950-1970s).
     
  5. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    I find this characterization unconvincing and unhelpful. The whole thing strikes me as pretentious (I'm not saying it's intended that way, but that's my reaction).

    "Classical fencing" is already hopelessly overloaded with different meanings assigning to it by different adherents - as you stated with your taxonomy of definitions by methodology or history. Conflating it with "classical education" doesn't necessarily match to how "classical fencing" is actually taught. They just happen to have the word "classical" in two distantly related senses. To me it just comes across as saying "my way of teaching fencing is inherently more refined and grown up than the sloppy hacking other people do. Harrumph!" That may not be the intention :)

    Nor does it distinguish it from modern fencing. A completely modern fencing system - using techniques like the flick that are hated by classical fencers - still implicitly or explicitly teaches a grammar of techniques, and logic of how they are used (the tactical wheel is an explicit expression of this). Clubs and competition provide venues for rhetoric. A fencing school could be called "classical" in this context without being "classical" in the context of fencing, making the use of such language ridiculous. The pedagogical mode is independent of the content being taught, a point illustrated by telkanuru's reference to Beck.

    FWIW, I'm a veteran fencer (and neither a child nor a novice, yet use foil and don't think it lacks the requisite seriousness to be called a weapon), and fond of fencing as it was done in the 1970s. Anyone who thinks that Evangelista speaks for my age group, is a good reference for how fencing was done then (or otherwise treats his ravings as meaningful) is sorely misled.
     
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  6. DAchilleus

    DAchilleus Rookie

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    Jeff,

    Personally I agree with you - almost entirely. We nearly abandoned the use of the term classical for some of the reasons you have described above. But taken in perspective remember that back in 1998 when people were only really getting used to using the internet all of these little groups of dedicated people who theretofore assumed they were alone discovered others with the same interest and sometimes similar training protocols and curricula. Perhaps in haste many of us rallied around this common descriptor.

    Any more you will find the community more nuanced. I have gravitated to using the term traditional because my fencing school is more closely modeled after older schools of fencing where swords were used.

    My intention was not to convince, but to demonstrate that the term classical as is used in reference to some fencing is not itself a homogeny. As to your feelings about Evangelista, we probably agree much there too. The difference is that I have an intimate knowledge of his methods. Otherwise you'd have to direct your comment to the hundreds of Veterens around the country that have kept the FQM on its sore feet this long.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  7. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    In this neighborhood, "almost entirely" is as close to agreement as ever happens...

    If CF changes from "Classical" to "Traditional" then several club, company, and website names will have to change, and maybe some monogrammed towels too. I don't think one word is necessarily better than the other. "Traditional" is just as open to claims of ownership and arguments over differing interpretations: Which tradition? Whose version of that tradition? I don't think any name is immune to these problems.

    Personally, I don't care what it's called as long as it doesn't carry some inaccurate connotation, especially one that tries to imply a spurious image of being better, purer, etc than the sport fencing most of us do. Frankly, I regret the split into separate camps, probably because I started when there was no such division, in a salle where the same person (as was not unique for an older generation of fencing masters) did both sport and duel. At one time there simply was one thing called "fencing", and a sensible fencer understood there were things you would do with blunt weapons in the salle that you would not do with sharps (which no sane person still did anyway) on a different day, and vice versa.

    I'm quite aware that the CF scene is heterogeneous. I've corresponded with a number of its adherents (argued with some, got along amicably with others) and even seen some in action. As far as Evangelista goes, I'm entirely satisfied to not have any direct contact with him. I view him with much the same attitude as we both have about Bill Leckie. I wasn't aware that FQM resumed publishing - their half-built website doesn't give any sign of there being recent editions. In any case, I think you would be mistaken to think that veteran's willingness to pay chump change for nostalgic reading meant that they endorsed Evangelista's editorials.
     
  8. DAchilleus

    DAchilleus Rookie

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    Agreed. This is why for nearly 10 years now I have begged off the internet forums. I have spent much time and money traveling and trying to get to know the people and their fencing behind the posts and online personas. I have trained, talked, listened, fenced and made more progress than writing or reading online ever could have achieved. Trying to foster this kind of real world interaction makes so much sense to me.

    Again, re: the OP, this is why I think its a waste of time to deconstruct Evangelista's advice for the sport fencing community. Its just a false comparison. Some people may benefit from it still others may not. In then end we fence the system, the system does not fence us.

    I'd be curious to experience what you've learned of fencing in your life. Are you truly 'way out west'? If so I may be in the Sonoma region again next July. Thats about as far West as I may get in the coming year.
     
  9. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    Not quite that far west. PM sent, so see your in-box. We can converse there.
     

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