(Foil) that unarmed hand thing

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by wwittman, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. wwittman

    wwittman DE Bracket

    Jan 29, 2019
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    When I was trained, we all learned to keep the back hand well back (and up) out of the way.
    Although there were a few outliers even then, it was very rare and could often draw a warning for covering, especially if a complaint was made.

    But now that I'm retuning to the sport, it's obvious that, for some time now, almost everyone fences with their body more 'open', or forward facing, and the back arm dangling somewhat in front and down.

    this isn't another of those "why don't you kids fence like the good old days" posts though... quite the opp

    what I'm asking is: what am I MISSING by fencing in my old form?
    is there an inherent advantage to the 'modern' stance, and in particular to the back arm?

    I'm interested in any opinions or experiences

    (and yes, I shall also ask my new coach)
  2. garyhayenga

    garyhayenga DE Bracket

    Sep 7, 2004
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    Keeping the back shoulder relaxed helps to keep the front shoulder relaxed, and thus promote more fluid and accurate bladework.

    I also learned to fence many years ago but I instead of keeping my back arm raised, which I didn't like because it tensed up my shoulder, I kept it down (but back), trying to mirror my weapon arm in it's en garde position
    jdude97 likes this.
  3. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

    Nov 6, 2003
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    Agreed. It's mostly about being relaxed. But I've found that many older fencers feel more relaxed in the way they were initially taught than suddenly dropping their arm in the more modern way. :) At the end of the day, it's all about what makes you happy. :D
  4. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

    Dec 30, 2005
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    So why does the back-hand-raised (scorpion) position go back 500 years or so? I'm thinking that it makes it easier to profile the body and harder to use the off-hand to defend yourself. Otherwise, why?
    Marc likes this.
  5. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Jul 12, 2001
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    500 years?! But the offhand WAS used in defense for most of the dueling period---if not to push aside or grab, then to hold a dagger, cape or lantern etc.

    What I was always told was that it was used to provide extra force to the body or arm by reducing the opposite reaction of Newon's 3rd law. That is, when you lunged or thrust you threw the off hand back in the other direction to dampen the backward opposing reaction of the force of your lunge or thrust and make it go farther/harder. When you recovered or retracted your arm you pulled the off hand back in toward your body again to reduce the opposite reaction to your recovery/retraction. That's easier to do with the arm curled up by your shoulder than if it's hanging down at your side.
  6. mfp

    mfp Podium

    May 10, 2002
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