How realistic is fencing?

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Higgage, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. Higgage

    Higgage Rookie

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    Hey! I'm interested in taking up fencing, but there's something that's bothering me. How realistic is it? Like, is it even close to what it was when rapiers were in common use? Or has it changed since becoming a sport?

    Now, I'd like to say that there's nothing wrong with competition, and even if modern fencing is completely different from classical fencing, it's still an awesome sport. But, say, could a modern fencer pick up and effectively use a real sword?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. gatsby

    gatsby Rookie

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    It's now a competitive sport. Nothing about it is really all that "realistic" anymore, despite what the more classically-inclined people might argue/pretend.

    A fencer could probably use a real sword better than the average person on the street, but I wouldn't say that they could weild one effectively.
     
  3. the ancient one

    the ancient one DE Bracket

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    Modern fencers are highly effective against dead horses.
     
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  4. Wizardly

    Wizardly Rookie

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    It's more realistic than, say, Wii fencing, lightsabers, anime, LotR, etc...
    On the bright side, court swords are no longer in widespread use so you won't ever have to find out.
     
  5. SabreurDeFrance

    SabreurDeFrance Rookie

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    Higgage, if you are looking for duel situation fencing then you should do some classical fencing instead of sport fencing. They will teach you first blood techniques I guess.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL9BWkN-Wcg

    This is the stuff you're into.
     
  6. Higgage

    Higgage Rookie

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    Well, it's fairly unlikely that I'll ever be attacked by a guy with a sword, so I guess this isn't such a bad thing. And I'd like to point out that by "realistic" I only meant useful in a duel with real swords. I wasn't trying to belittle modern fencers, call fencing fake, or anything like that.

    But, see, I'd rather not learn a skill like classical fencing from the internet. It seems ineffective. Thanks for the link, though.

    Thanks, everyone!
     
  7. tchwojko

    tchwojko Rookie

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    Poker with monopoly money vs. poker with your life savings are two entirely different activities.
     
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  8. WGH

    WGH Rookie

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    Here's the thing... Fencing nowadays is a complete sport, but it does teach all of the fundamentals of sword use. Once you learn time and distance, changing to an old fashioned blade is just a manner of adjusting. I am convinced that an decent modern fencer would be significantly better with a rapier than a person with no training at all. AND I'm convinced that an expert modern fencer would be better with a rapier than 90% of classical fencers and could rapidly be as good as the people who train exclusively with rapier. That's because an expert modern fencer has to fully understand distance and tempo and not just luck their way into it as some beginners do. If you have those down, the change of weapon is an easy adjustment.

    Now if you tried to use a rapier at the exact speed and with the exact same motions as a modern foil you'd be pretty screwed, but a good fencer should be able to feel the difference pretty well.
     
  9. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

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    I don't know. Fencing looks pretty fake to me. It's probably just all photoshopped.

    [​IMG]
    (comic is from xkcd)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
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  10. Mitchell

    Mitchell is a Verified Fencing ExpertMitchell hi Staff Member

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    1) sport fencing is a sport. the goal does not involve self-preservation or anachronism.

    2) just because it is now a sport does not necessarily mean that the skills you learn are useless in some sort of fight situation.

    3) but, if you want to learn how to defend yourself or learn about historical weaponry, there are better things to do than learn sport fencing, and i'm sure some of us can point you in the right direction.

    4)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
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  11. Rock

    Rock Rookie

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    Modern Olympic rules (i.e., "sport" fencing) are fundamentally based on sword prize-fight/skill contest rules from the 1600-1700s.

    In a skill contest there are criteria announced, in advance, telling the competitors how their sword skills will be evaluated so that they can win whatever.

    There is a vast conceptual difference in using a part of a set of skills to demonstrate those skills to on-lookers/judges to win a prize, and using some of that same set of skills to kill someone.

    The movements of sport fencing are just a subset of the range of actual swordfighting skills. The selection of the movements (out of what's possble), in a contest environment will, of course, be different than one who is trying to stay alive in a swordfight.

     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  12. crquack

    crquack Rookie

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    That about sums it up.

    There is a huge difference when success is defined by hitting the other guy 40 milliseconds beofore he hits you than when success means not getting hit at all. In the latter, 'realistic' scenario you are into the Law of Thirds (1/3 you win, 1/3 you die, 1/3 you both die). Thus your approach to the contest is going to be quite different.

    Having said that, sport fencing footwork, stamina, speed, distance judgement and reflexes including reactions to complex stimuli all translate well into enhanced ability to fight in any shape or form. It may not be a complete fighting skill set but a huge skill subset.
     
  13. Palisadeur

    Palisadeur Made the Cut

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    Good for you chum, fencing is AWESOME!

    It's not really ye olde rapier fencing, but compare this:
    1949 Epee Duel - Maitre Vignancourt challenged Professor Nordman to a duel after a pointed remark was made in a Paris trial. The duel was stopped according to rules after blood had been drawn from Professor Nordman.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iaLDNhvAnM
    With this:
    FIEvideo - Junior Fencing World Championships 2010 Baku, Azerbaijan - Mens Epee - Gold Medal Match.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s80KQAsQTg0

    You be the judge.

    Effectively use? Yes.
    Effectively slay (or at least draw first blood) with? Probably not.


    Fencing rocks - try it, you'll like it.
     
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  14. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    So...could Aldo Nadi ( who did participate in a duel ) do well in modern fencing, were he a man in his prime?
     
  15. Bonehead

    Bonehead Podium

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    You also have to decide what "real fencing" is. A lot of the duels on the youtube videos are first blood duels where neither participant wants to kill each other, just cut the arm a little bit, which would count as a win. So, would it look like that if both participants were out to cause lethal damage. Would it look like that if you wanted the other guy dead even if it meant you died too? Would it look like that if there wasn't a group of people watching to ensure that you followed social protocol, and didn't do something that was "cheating" like throw a rock, or run and hide then ambush the other guy or something.

    I would imagine sport fencers (or any athlete in generall really) who are used to performing under pressure, or maybe a MMA guy or a boxer who are used to fighting through pain would be the most successful.
     
  16. Wizardly

    Wizardly Rookie

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    For the record, to anyone that saw the last "Star Trek," we as fencers generally can't do that.

    I have a feeling this hypothetical discussion is going to go on ad nauseum until someone invents a time machine and proves or disproves it. Perhaps we should table it until then?
     
  17. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Most modern sport fencers probably wouldn't have a significant advantage against someone who trained with real weapons.

    Most historical duelists would lose their lives pretty quickly if suddenly placed in a moving car in I-95 traffic.

    What conclusions can we draw from this? Probably none.
     
  18. bb43

    bb43 Made the Cut

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    No we should submit it to DEADLIEST WARRIOR!

    I hear its scientific.
    http://www.spike.com/show/31082
     
  19. WGH

    WGH Rookie

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    I actually think so. For his time, he was on the leading edge as far as modernization goes and openly criticized coaches for refusing to update their techniques due to tradition. He was a big proponent of the sliding lunge in a time where every coach and maestro would prefer you nail your back foot to the floor. And he disdained refs. Sounds like he'd fit in just fine!
     
  20. hello?

    hello? Podium

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    Aghhhhh! Not another one of these threads!!!! : )
     

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