Italian grip thoughts

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by Carlos37, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. erik_blank

    erik_blank Podium

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    But it would make drinking from a Tea Cup SO much classier! :mutant:
     
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  2. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    I'm consistently amazed by the condescending attitude fencers have toward each other, especially when it comes to technical/preference things like grips, styles, and form.

    Where does all this vitriol come from? When did being the Olympic-class fencer suddenly become the standard for everyone to be?

    I'm not an international-class fencer. I'm not going to win a gold medal in Beijing, or London, or any other Olympic venue. But why does that mean I should take my cues from the people that are?!

    The italian and french grips are just that, grips. Exactly like the visconti, the belgian, the german russian schermasport spanish or any other grip. It is a means to hold and maneuver your weapon in a way that feels comfortable and maximizes your personal ability to make a touch- there is absolutely no reason to force everyone to use the same grip if the reason is "in my opinion, it is better."

    I use, mostly, orthopedic grips. I also use french grips on occasion- because I've found that I change my fencing when I do. My actions become lighter and more accurate. I learned how to use an Italian grip when I first started fencing, and much like the french it makes me fence a different way. I am comfortable fencing with all three grips because they each add something different to my fencing.

    Isn't that what it all boils down to? The critcism that "sport-firsters" level at classical fencer, the "just because Aldo Nadi did it doesn't mean it's good" can be redirected right back at them- "just because Jerzy Pawłowski did it doesn't mean it's good."

    Fencing, to me, isn't divided into two seperate categories of classical and sport. It's a continuous spectrum of evolution, and simply discounting parts of it's history with blanket statements of "it's jsut bad" is in my mind inappropriate and short sighted. One of the reasons fencing is unpopular is because we still haven't shaken off that aristocratic mentality of "my way is the best, you peasants." I'm tired of it.
     
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  3. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    Most vitriol comes from CF fencers randomly apprearing on the forum shouting how they are the one true bastion of the sport and how we're all amoral degenerates who have no claim to even refer to ourselves as fencers.

    It comes from people insisting that because it is old it is therefore good, and needs no further merit.

    These tend to induce knee-jerk WTF reactions.
     
  4. LordShout

    LordShout DE Bracket

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    Are your hands mirror symmetrical? Go get a mirror and look. Mine aren't, my right hand is somewhat larger then my left, probably from bladework among other acitivites.
     
  5. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    When the only desire to do something a certain way is because it's old, that's illogical. But not every fencer is Nick Evangelista.

    The pendulum swings both ways- I recieved my initial training in a classical style, and as such I am at least competent in many forms of fencing- Radaellian sabre, florentine style, dagger and buckler, rigid parrying tools... but I am also a competitive fencer in USFA. I'm going to buy an italian grip epee when I get some extra money, it's on my list of things I'd like to experiment with in fencing. Will it work for me? I don't really know until I try it. I'm also planning to buy a Radaellian sabre and incorporating older techniques into my repertoire. Will it help? I don't really know- but it's interesting.

    The point I am trying to make here is simple: stop being so damned condescending, fencers. There may be a reason why "classical" fencers and "modern" fencers have such anger at each other, and I think it has something to do with a complete lack of respect on both ends. One-line posts of "then you're doing it wrong" or "no successful fencer does that" are neither helpful nor polite. Why not be nicer?
     
  6. mrbiggs

    mrbiggs Podium

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    Your point is valid and well-taken. However, the one-line posts shouldn't necessarily be taken as curt or obnoxious. The arguments for and against the Italian grip have been gone over countless times in paragraph form. So when a fencer comes on here asking about the Italian grip, we generally tell them that no good fencers use it and it's probably not the best competitive training option. This isn't an attempt at useful debate, it's a simple presentation of the facts that are important to us.

    EDIT: I should also add that this is the internet and there's a minimum amount of rudeness to be expected in any given post.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  7. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    The point is- any given sport is inherently Darwinian. You will not discover something that works better that no one knew about (or in the case of an Italian grip, that no one uses) from older styles, simply because these techniques didn't stand up to the competition. The way you get better at sport fencing is by finding a competent sport fencing coach and taking lessons.

    If you want to get better at CF, you can ask about that on other forums, and don't bring it here. We don't want to deal with it.

    PS- It won't help, and it's not interesting.
     
  8. LordShout

    LordShout DE Bracket

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    You fail to understand evolution correctly. There are multiple examples where various features have evolved out of use, conditions changed and then they evolved back into use. Flight for example, during the height of the dinosaurs pterodactyls made use of flight, conditions changed and flight fell by the way side. Many years later conditions had changed again to make flight a desirable characteristic and it was readopted.

    While I find the Italian grip to be a laughable waste of time in my own fencing it doesn't mean that someone else might not get good use out of it. Yes, good use. I'm not advocating rushing out and buying one to use but it is easy to imagine some students being helped competitively by a few weeks using the IGrip (or should we bend to modern pressures and term it iGrip?). I had a tendon issue that prevented me from using a pistol grip for several weeks, I sure wish I had an IGrip sitting around with a martengale to remove pressure from the afflicted area.

    Would have I fenced improved purely because I was fencing with the IGrip? No, I would have improved because instead of wasting a few weeks not fencing I could have fenced, indeed I would have been fencing in a new paradigm and the thought processes required to change and adapt to the new situation would have helped me learn new skills. You get better at learning by learning, never turn down a chance to learn a new skill.

    As for the postscript, it was completely unnecessary, meanspirited and wrong. I'm sorry your brain has calcified so far that you cannot be civil and accept the possibility that someone else might find historical antiquities interesting, or maybe even useful but that is no reason to be rude.
     
  9. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    One of the evergreen topics....

    Some of us, at least older ones like me, used Italian grip in what is now called "sport fencing" (Back then, we just said "fencing". There was no distinct "classical fencing" at the time). So, it is not correct to say "Italian grip, therefore classical". Fair to say "Italian grip, therefore Italian style", so I kind of wonder about people who pick up the handle without fencing in the style that it depended on. Hm.

    Italian grips disappeared because they were inferior to the pistol, which took over its ecological niche (since we raised Darwinism) as the handle that offered stronger grip and blade takings than the French. French continues in its niche, used to a smaller degree because that niche has shrunken as pistol outperformed it, but pistol (aka orthopedic) does everything the Italian grip does - and does it better - hence the Italian grip is a fossil.

    Once in a while somebody comes on the board and proclaims the wonderfulness of their fossil grip. To those of us who used the handle before they were born it just looks like misplaced romanticism. Maybe we should just ignore. On the other hand, if people with Italian grips started winning competitions - even at the local level - fencers would gravitate towards using it again and studying under fencing masters that taught it.

    So, there's a bit of condescension, because almost invariably the people who use Italian today are either purely in the CF world (and thereby deliberately seeking out antique forms, as is their right), or weak fencers in the SF world. A few exceptions here and there (there were only 2 A-level Italian-grip foilists in NY Metro back in the 1960s and 1970s. They were excellent fencers. There are none since then) but that's the general rule. Until and unless people carrying on about Italian grip get some decent results, they'll be lumped in with the other scrubs. That may be condescending, but it's "fair" in that it reflects the results achieved with the grip. Win, and nobody will condescend.
     
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  10. erooMynohtnA

    erooMynohtnA Podium

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    Look up Darwinian. It doesn't mean evolution, and it's a straw man to compare evolution and innovation in fencing.

    Since everyone has been having a very understanding and mutually respectful lovefest where "it must work for someone" I figure I should rain on the parade a little myself.

    Not everything works better for someone.
    "Should I cut off my leg so I can fence like Captain Hook?"
    No, no you shouldn't. It will affect your mobility.
    "But my goal isn't too be good at sport fencing!"
    It's still a bad idea.
    "You clearly just don't know anything about Captain Hook. Typical sport fencer!"
    You're an idiot.

    And that's how it goes with most anachronistic techniques brought to bear on Olympic fencing, like keeping the arm up, presenting a perfect profile, using buttons on jackets, or the Italian grip.
    The question: Should I do this?
    The misdirection: I don't want to be good at sport fencing.
    The refutation: Well, that's because sport fencers don't know like I do.
    The hilarious: Really long flame war

    Do we really need to put "[in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]" instead of just saying what we think to soften the blow to morons?

    Would you be so understanding if someone wrote "I want to use a XL Russian, but I have really tiny hands. Do you think this is a good idea? Well, I don't care if you think it's a good grip, because you don't understand sentiment du fer, and there are things I can do with that you can't do because you weren't properly trained"? No, you'd let them have it for being a retard, as would I, because we wouldn't be too busy crying into our own vaginas about how everyone can't just get along.
     
  11. HDG

    HDG Podium

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    Well, that paints a picture…
     
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  12. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    This makes no sense. The evolution of fencing comes with innovation, among other things. The invention of electric scoring machines revolutionized it- that's innovation, that's evolution.

    I find it supremely ironic you accuse LordShout of building a strawman when you turn around and employ argumentum ad absurdam. Perhaps I could do this:

    "Should I fence left-handed like Olympic Fencer X?"
    No, no you shouldn't. It will affect your coordination.
    "But my goal isn't too be have good form! I just want touches"
    It's still a bad idea.
    "You clearly just don't know anything about "modern" fencing. Typical backwards-looking classicalist!"
    You're an idiot.

    When did we get to the point of judging the entirety of fencing on the Olympic category? My entire point is that there needs to be friendliness on behalf of both parties- don't both classical and competitive worlds have something to offer each other? Your definitions assume that a classical fencer could never, not in a million years, ever defeat one who is brought up solely as a sporting fencer.

    This is arrogance.

    Do we really need to drive new fencers and curious people away by being sarcastic and flippany aristocrats who don't have time to answer a question?

    Another strawman? Mr. Pot, I'd like to introduce you to Mrs. Kettle. Oh, you already know each other, how nice!
     
  13. erooMynohtnA

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    Ok, it makes total sense to compare the extinction of flying reptiles to the Italian grip. Notice flying reptiles are not around anymore. Therefore the Italian grip isn't either and pistol grips are birds. QED.

    But once we get back to why that's a straw man, it was stated that fencing is a competitively driven world in which the successful techniques are used and those not successful are not. The fact that the Italian is not used at high levels is the evidence that it's not competitively useful. Whether or not previously useful adaptations of dinosaurs are useful again has nothing to do with the fact that the Italian is not used in sport fencing due to drawbacks.

    That's fair enough, but I wouldn't have used non-dominant hand, because sport fencers would also be concerned with coordination as it's useful to get touches while in my example classical fencers aren't necessarily concerned with the most efficient way to do things and sometimes strive for authenticity over competitive usefulness [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]. I would have gone with screaming:
    "Should I scream like Mariel Zagunis after every action?"
    No
    "But she won the Olympics!"
    You'll look like a jerk
    "I don't care."
    You are a jerk.
    Much like arguments coming from using an anachronism that provides a competitive disadvantage, that screaming argument really does take place [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos].

    Maybe you haven't looked around. This is sort of a sport fencing forum [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]. I don't go to the classical forums and post about the wonders of the pistol grip. The pistol grip really has no bearing on what they're doing, just like the Italian has no bearing on sport fencing.

    Certainly there are many fencing techniques that can be learned from a classical fencer, but I can't think of any exclusive to classical fencing that would be useful to a sport fencer. Since sport fencing and classical fencing are different, you have to be careful what you take from each [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos].


    Yes [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]

    If a person makes a bad grip decision, he should be corrected [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]. Italian or XL Russian [in my own personal experiences I find this to be true for the fencing I have done and observed in my area and in videos]. Please point out the straw man.
     
  14. tdwg83

    tdwg83 Made the Cut

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    A grip should not be used simply because the grip exists. You MUST look and why the grip exists before you choose to use it. The Italian grip was designed to add strength to keep the opponents blade away from you. The French grip was designed for control. Distance and choosing when to attack was key. The pistol grip evolved to incorporate both. Strength is helpful, but the same strength isn't needed because we don't fight for our lives. A parry these days can consist of tapping a blade "with sufficient force". The Italian style was to capture a blade to completely remove a threat. There are resources on the subject. Look for any fencing or sword book with a history section that covers between 1600 and 1800 and there is sure to be talk about both the French and Italian school of thought.

    The Italian has fallen by the wayside in sport fencing because of the awkward hard position, strapping the blade to your arm looses tip control and actions in the Italian style are larger and about capturing the blade. Derobements and disengages will defeat the Italian still with some minor skill.
     
  15. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    Sadly, yours is ignorance.

    Italian foil was part of Olympic fencing till at least 1960s, by which I mean that there were competitors at the Rome games still using it (I trained under one). It was part of fencing for another decade or so, and to a tiny amount still is, but has been marginal for a long time. There was no such thing as "classical fencing" as a distinct, self-identified brand of fencing till 1990 or so, by which time the Italian grip had long been irrelevant.

    So, it's not about "can sport/Olympic fencing learn something from classical by re-evaluating the Italian grip", because the sport/Olympic world abandoned the grip as inferior. Reasons why it's inferior have been discussed at length. If you don't understand them, that's nobody else's fault. Nor is it a belief that no classical fencer could ever beat a sport fencer. Originally, there was no such a distinction. Everybody was both sport and classical. The difference is that sport fencers do whatever is effective, and classical fencers do what they imagine was done 100 years ago.
     
  16. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    Look, I'm not going to argue about why I think your statement is wrong-headed, because we'll end up going in circles. I believe you are missing the point when you argue that "sport fencers do what is effective." Effective for what, should be the question.

    I am not opposed to sport fencing- I AM a competitive fencer who learned from a coach who believes much of the modern fencing world is so far removed from the actual mechanics of swordplay that my first experiences with electric equipment and modern ROW came when I went to college.

    It is not incorrect to say that fencing has become more athletic and more removed from the duel-inspired practice of 100 years ago, and is as far removed from it now as sailboats are from cruise ships. But, to continue my analogy, they're still boats and they still sail the seas. The shortcomings of a schooner compared to an oil tanker are easily understood- but nonetheless, you still see folks get out on catamarans and hoist up the sails because it's interesting, it's fun, and it's delightfully anachronistic.

    My entire argument is about continuity- to simply disregard the past as inferior is irresponsible. Yes, the french grip has shortcomings. Sure, the italian does too. And you know, I'm not too crazy about the Russian- rather blocky and unwieldy. But they are still used as instructional tools, historical examples, and illustrators of technique. This board may be primarily filled with people who sport fence, but the name "fencing.net" seems to say it's open to everyone interested in fencing.

    So again, I say- don't be so condescending. Be helpful instead.
     
  17. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    We are being helpful. Sorry you don't perceive it that way.

    For the n'th time - this isn't about "sport fencing". Italian grip WAS used in "sport fencing" and died off because an increasingly popular and affordable alternative killed it off. I watched the last practical use of the grip - and used it myself, so I'm a direct witness. To simply say "effective for what?" is to ignore reasons some of us have stated at length - based on technical characteristics of the weapon, and personal experience.

    If you have an argument that the mechanics of the Italian grip are superior to pistol, by all means go ahead and make your case. If you want to say the Italian grip is better for "classical" but not for "sport" then you need to specify what you mean by that - as that's a false distinction. Italian grip's demise long precedes the use of the flick or recent changes in ROW.

    If you want to make the case that the Italian grip is part of a continuity we should all value, then sure, there's nothing wrong with that at all. But, using your boat analogy: people still go out on sailboats because they're fun - but when they want to do serious work, the use modern sea craft, with engines. Because they're more effective.
     
  18. kuroutesshin

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    Excellent- I'm seeing your points much more clearly now. I wonder, though, about the truth of the statement that it "died out." I definitely agree with you that it has been replaced, but we can't forget the ever-present haze of political and nationalist tendencies (what language is F.I.E. again... :D).

    Certainly the French would disappear completely from the scene if the only determining factor was power or evolution- isn't the only use of the grip at the upper levels to post?

    I'm afraid I fell into the confusion of terms- I mean to say historical fencing of the mid to late 19th century. The old Neapolitan style of epee utilizes the quillons and hook, and those that favor reconstruction or historical fencing find use for it.

    Further, if I'm not mistaken there are a few fencers on this board who have stated they prefer the italian because their arthritis or other ailments make it difficult for them to use either the french or orthopedic grips- the martingale and quillons provide the strength and support that would normally come from the form of the anatomical grip. Certainly in those two cases (those interested in reconstruction or with chiropractic problems) benefit from it's use.

    Analogies are fun, no? :)
     
  19. KidLazy

    KidLazy Rookie

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    This thread is STILL going on!? :eek:
     
  20. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    You do not comprehend the true power!
     

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