Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Higgage, Oct 25, 2010.
Wow! Thanks for all of the responses. This has been tremendously helpful.
A valid point!
Sport fencing is totally like a real swordfight. That is, if real swords weighed 500 grams and were flexible so as to eliminate any injury to the person you were stabbing, and a weird set of rules determined whether or not your impaling of the other person counted.
True. Town swords/small swords of the late 1700s were generally lighter than electric foils, but more rigid. If you practice penetrating a vital organ with the "street" version of a small sword, even if it's not sharp you will be bruising your partner's ribs. So, you make a simulator sword (foil) that feels like the actual small sword in the hand, but the blade bend,s absorbing the force that would otherwise go into the other person (with whom you're training and don't want to hurt).
Aldo Nadi on Fencing Vs. Dueling
"Today, the non-fencer is inclined to associate fencing with dueling. A fencer does not. The former see glamour in dueling while the later knows it is only a grim business. Furthermore, no one takes up fencing becayse of dueling. True, the same weapons are used in both. Yet, but for the technical foundations, they constitute two different worlds hardly compatible with each other. One is a world of hate, courage and blood; the other, one of courtesy, courage and skill.
"The duelist's objective is to injure his adversary as soon as possible (any delay would enhance the enemy's morale) wihtoout being wounded at all; the fencer's, to defeat his opponent with no particular hurry, as long as he scores at least a fraction of a second before he may be touched himself. In a duel, the fencer is compelled to execute an ultra-careful form of fencing which, indeed, is an almost unworthy expression of the vast science he knows."
From: On Fencing, by Aldo Nadi, pages 23-24.
Quite so! Just perusing YouTube for early 20th century duels it becomes evident that epee fencing and epee duels hardly mirror each other - no toe touches, no fleches, no wrinkles of clothing on which to catch a tip, and very large, careful distance. I'd surmise that the two only approach each other as alcohol use increases.
Aldo Nadi is my hairdresser.
"Bet you're gay."
Olympic gold in three weapons. Don't blame him.
"No, I'm not!"
From what I know, learning modern day fencing would not be very useful if you had to duel a more common person a few centuries ago, but it could help if you were dueling against a royal person.
I will say this thread necromancy is relevant to the lightsaber discussion in that a lot of people come to sport fencing because they're interested in "real" dueling, so that while it's not inaccurate to say sport fencing is based on historical dueling techniques and it's also 100% correct to say that fencing is not bound to its dueling tradition any more than an arbitrarily concocted sport like basketball is bound to anything, it is true that turning these newly interested people away or telling them not to care about their true interests and just do our little sport instead is misguided.
Now there's a sentence
Modern epee fencing is absolutely realistic.
A modern epee is a real weapon in every respect, except that it has a blunt tip. Sharpen the tip, and you have a real, lethal weapon. When Aldo Nadi fought his duel in Milan in 1923, he recalled that he was “handed the same battered épée” with which he had won so many fights before. The only difference, of course, was that the point had been sharpened.
Modern-day fencers now wear tennis shoes and use orthopedic grips, but these things don’t make it unrealistic, they are just the continuing evolution of a discipline that has evolved for hundreds of years.
The only significant difference between epee fencing and dueling is that the epee fencer’s life is not at stake, which allows him or her to employ riskier actions. A fencer can make it to the Olympics with an attack that’s successful 60% of the time, whereas a duelist using the same attack would probably be dead after three fights.
Right, right...just think of all of the dueling anecdotes where fencers went for their opponents' toes.
( And confined themselves to a restricted piste and linear actions. And never used their off hands. And etc ... )
It depended on where and when you were dueling. (With the dueling sword), from the second half of the 19th century, you couldn't use the unarmed hand, and you were fighting along a straight line. I don't know the rules with dueling sabre.
Heh. "Couldn't"? Who enforced that?
"Aren't supposed to" is not the same as "couldn't".
Once, one "couldn't" run away or even retreat too hastily. Just wasn't done. Bad form. Dishonorable. Yet we got that wonderful euphemism known as Cobb's Traverse anyway.
Aldo Nadi never had to deal with non-combativity rules. So the game changes.
This is someone who is in a duel. Why is he in a duel? Because he values his "honor" very highly, otherwise he could have just refused, or moved to London for a while or something.
Given that he's in a duel because he values his honor very highly, is he then going to do something clearly against the rules of the duel, that will make everyone snicker and point when he walks by?
Well, maybe. La Marche in The Dueling Sword, which was written in the early days of sport epee and has a lot to do with dueling epee, talks about "forgivable" back hand actions, which are made by reflex, and "planned" back hand parries which were clearly premeditated. It's an interesting distinction. Anyway, apparently people did sometimes make back hand parries, but it was an examined point and there were opinions on it.
And in general it's a mistake to put our modern sensibilities into the heads of duelists of a hundred and fifty years ago. If someone challenged me to a duel I'd move to London, I hear it's nice this time of year. Or I'd take up knitting and never leave my house, or something. Anyone dueling had much greater regard for reputation than we do now, and would act differently because of that.
Or maybe we just reduced the blood-letting by moving all of those people to social media platforms where they can obsess over likes, mentions, and numbers of followers.
The historical accounts are full of anecdotes of people doing all sorts of things to avoid duels or to escape them unscathed. So I'm going to say 'yes', and add that perhaps honor and reputation were not such strong deterrents for everyone. In all likelihood the party willing to break the unwritten rules would have had an advantage over those unwilling to do so, which sounds like a survival trait to me. These guys would have had an evolutionary leg up, so to speak, and eventuallly crowded out the more punctilious combatants from, er, life.
I have already mentioned the example of the Englishman Cobb. Then there was the duel with daggers in the compartment of a carriage. And if one were afraid of ridicule one probably wouldn't have a duel with blunderbusses in hot-air balloons...
Agreed. But sometimes very respectable men ( and presumably women ) in the duelling age did similar things, or even more inventive ones, such as the one-legged veteran who sent his second with a surgeon and his instruments to his challenger with an invitation to choose which of his legs the surgeon would amputate so that the duel could proceed, as the law of dueling required, with both men "on an equal footing".
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