Italian grip thoughts

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

  1. Gav

    Gav is a Verified Fencing ExpertGav Moderator!!

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    Yeah I can't believe it either.

    Oh wait; this this is the interweb...
     
  2. Schiavona

    Schiavona Rookie

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    I'm in Jeff's camp, having learned the Italian or Italianate style before most of the rest of you were born:rolleyes: Right Allen?:egypt:

    He's also right in that using the Italian grip, if you've been trained in it, is fun. Fun the way using any older technologly is fun. Shooting black powder guns is a blast! Technologly passed those by about 150 years ago, but they still work-just not as well as modern weapons.

    I've often wondered if anybody who had lost a hand had a prostetic fencing weapon that attached directly to their limb. What would fencing with that be like?
     
  3. Zilverzmurfen

    Zilverzmurfen Rookie

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    Do you mean osteointegrated or just like a regular prostethic?

    (Both of them seems painful to me, not that I would know, my limbs are all instact.)
     
  4. tlucente

    tlucente DE Bracket

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    A compromise

    I think I have the solution that will satisfy everyone. Behold, the Pteradactyl Grip!
    pteradactyl.jpg

    Evolution be damned. :huh:
     
  5. tdwg83

    tdwg83 Made the Cut

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    See my post above for reasons.

    It is easier to learn "sentiment du fer" and finger control with a French. Most beginners try to grip a pistol grip too tight if it is their first grip.

    Interestingly enough this is the reason that the orthopedic grips were first developed. It comes down to hands are shaped differently. Pistol grips force hands to adapt to the closest size/shape for a grip so they are not for every one. French grips are unique that almost every hand can learn to hold it regardless of size or shape.
     
  6. fencerchica

    fencerchica Rookie

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    Generally speaking I'm all about people being a little nicer to one another. But seriously, if you really think things are that bad on this side, have you seen the classicalfencing.com discussion boards?? The aggressively condescending self-satisfaction practically oozes out of the walls there. Here on f-net, there are particular topics, such as archaic grips, which tend to draw a minority of uncharitable replies. But on that website, there's hardly a thread that's not totally infected with people sneering this zero-sum mantra that not only is the CF way the One True Path but also everyone else is a fool, morally questionable, or both. (I find the latter particularly rich given that the only time anyone ever tried to actually cheat me at fencing, it was a CF'er.)
     
    Allen Evans and erooMynohtnA like this.
  7. erooMynohtnA

    erooMynohtnA Podium

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    You know, I went over there to check it out and read a few posts. I started to think maybe it was made up, because I didn't see any all caps flame wars going on, then I came across this:

    "This was sent to me by a friend on another (Modern Fencing) message board, who asked me to post it, knowing that I was a member here.


    -------------

    Admin Note:
    The quoted message has been removed because we do not allow cross posting on this forum. Only members are authorized to post. Please do not post any forwarded material without first contacting Maitre Crown. If he believes the potential post has merit, he may invite the author to join so that the information may be posted directly.

    Thank you.

    Linda

    Last edited by Linda Wyatt (2007-08-15 21:35:32)"

    At least fencing.net allows the Italian grip to be discussed.
     
  8. jeff

    jeff Podium

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    Apologies for the long post, but I can expand on that because it was my text that was censored.

    I used to go to classicalfencing.com for amusement (I've lost the habit. There's almost no activity there anyway), and saw a thread with a beginner question "What to look for?". I thought the responses to this reasonable question were useless, especially the conspicuously vacuous and mystical response by the site's owner. I wanted to help, and since I didn't want to join that board, I asked a person who used to post here to post my response for me.

    As you can see below, it has no polemics or attacks on CF - it's purely technical in nature. I think it was censored because it posed such a contrast with the "master"'s answer, which had no useful information ("Fencing is much like dance (some of the best "cross-training for fencing, by the way. I recommend tango.) You must feel the movement in the moment. Always ready for any possibility (by being centered) but committed to none until it's necessary to commit -- at the "final moment" when the truth is clear, the "point of no return" one might say. Nothing happens until it happens"). Thanks for nothing, Yoda.

    My response, which was removed, follows. Judge for yourself the quality of my post, and the relative openness of the different boards:

    ===cut here===
    Stephen raises a very broad issue with his post, with several implications:

    - Should responses be made without conscious thought?
    - What are the trigger events?
    - How do we vary our actions and avoid mechanical responses?
    - How do we take control over the action so we're not being reactive?

    I largely agree with the posts made previously, but it might help Stephen to illustrate with concrete examples.

    Certainly fencers respond without conscious thought (everyone agreed on this). It's simply too slow to think "I'm being attacked. I will now decide which parry to use and execute it", just as nobody thinks "I've put my hand in boiling water. I think I'll withdraw my hand now!" (The analogy isn't perfect: the latter is a spinal reflex, while a fencing response is a learned action that uses higher brain function. But the point should be clear.) This is why it can be frustrating (or at least, not much fun) to fence a beginner - they simply don't respond appropriately.

    Every fencer learns responses, under the direction of their teacher, through pair drills, and through actual fencing. Training is needed to develop proper form, timing, and learn how to recognise cues to respond to. However, sooner or later, everyone develops automatic behavior: to parry attacks and sincere-looking feints, deceive attempts to take your blade, attack into opened lines, keep distance as the opponent moves in and out, etc, all done without thought. While this is essential, it also means that we all have automatic responses that can be exploited. If I know you'll respond to a beat by re-closing the line, I'll make a crisp beat-disengage to provoke your response and deceive it. If I know you always make a direct riposte, I'll set up second intention by attacking, drawing your riposte to the line I expect it in, and making a counter riposte. Before doing either of these, I'll see what you do with false attacks, so I'll know how you respond. All experienced fencers use these and similar tactics.

    That brings us the the followup questions: how to select actions, how to not be predictable, and how to not be reactive. First, it's important to note that fencers develop finely tuned ability to discriminate between different stimuli and make calibrated responses.

    On defense, for example, when your opponent feints, it's important to neither parry too early (which makes it easy for you to be hit on a feint-disengage attack) or too late (you get hit on the direct attack). Most fencers learn to ignore weak feints, or use them as opportunities to mount their own attacks ("Thanks for closing distance without making a real threat, and offering me your blade!") Advanced fencers can hold their parry till the last possible moment, when the attacker is deeply committed, or make a counter attack if the attacker hesitates.

    The same applies symmetrically to the attack: As I mentioned above, if your feint is too shallow it doesn't provoke a parry, and all you've done is reduced distance and exposed yourself to risk. If you feint too deep (without the timing and mechanical skill needed to carry off a very late disengage), you'll either be parried, or your disengage will fail to clear the line; in either case the attack fails. In particular, don't do your disengage (for example, in a one-two) until they start to respond to the feint, otherwise you'll finish your attack in the closed line and give your opponent the parry "for free". This requires "eyes open" fencing, which I'll expand on shortly.

    Advice I will offer: first and foremost control your distance. That's the most important thing you can do on either offense or defense. Nothing else you do will compensate for not having mobility and proper distance. Defenders without footwork are easily steamrollered by an attacker, and attackers without footwork can be seen coming a mile away. Among other things: distance buys you time, so you can do something other than your most reactive technique. If you become advanced, you'll have a fine awareness of how close you are to your opponent's lunge distance and him to yours, and you can ride that boundary very closely to your advantage. Until then, keep a bit wider distance. Develop your footwork first and foremost.

    Learn how to be less predictable by varying your responses. For example, when your opponent attacks, step back (if needed) and make a counter-six parry instead of the direct parry four you would instinctively make. This conditions your opponent to expect that parry, and he or she will disengage where you want, so you can spring that parry 4 on them when you have them in the trap. Practice so you are equally comfortable with the direct riposte and the riposte with disengage. Speaking of parries: don't memorize all of them and worry about which one to use in any moment. That just leads to "analysis paralysis". Most of your parries should be 4 and 6, lateral or circular. It's occasionally good to surprise someone with diagonal parry to septime (again, as an example), but that's rare, and definitely not for beginners. Most of the times, stick to the frequently-used parries 6 and 4: They are frequently used for very good reason.

    Finally, there's the concept of "eyes open fencing". Sometimes, we pre-program our actions: "I'll make a beat disengage here", or "I'll do a one-two". Bear in mind that you have to respond to your opponent's reaction (don't disengage into the closed line of six if he never opened it by responding to your feint to four!). You also have to watch for the opponent doing something you didn't expect: Perhaps he makes a circle parry instead of a lateral one, so you have to use a different disengage. Or he makes a disengage riposte instead of a direct one. So, instead of learning pre-planned sequences, fencers learn to respond in real-time to different things their opponent might do ("sentiment du fer" exercises are a traditional way to develop this ability for actions from engagement.) It's a teachable skill, based on lessons and drills in which the student must correctly respond to different actions with one of a set of appropriate responses ("If I do A, you respond with B. If I do C, you do D or E.") instead of doing a single specific pre-programmed action. That's really much more like fencing, and a hallmark of high level fencing.

    In summary: fencing has both preplanned and spontaneous actions, and both conscious actions and actions that are done automatically - both of these are essential parts of fencing. Training and equips you do both effectively, and the combination and creativity they permit is what makes fencing so compelling.

    I hope this is helpful advice. (Jeff Savit)

    ===cut here===
     
  9. erooMynohtnA

    erooMynohtnA Podium

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    Their loss, Jeff.
     
  10. Hauptman

    Hauptman Rookie

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    The thread that wouldn't die...

    You're all right, and you're all wrong.

    To summarize:

    Is there a lack of civility and courtesy at times here? Definitely. Many of the posts contribute nothing but vitriol, and offer "advice" not asked for. And this goes far beyond the relative rudeness levels one can expect on the internet in general.

    Is the italian grip an anachronism that is almost certainly not the best choice for success in modern fencing? Absolutely. But it is a fascinating weapon IF one truly takes the time to learn and practice the Italian school. Picking up an italian weapon for the night to play around with in no way gives you any insight into the style.

    SO in the end, if you want to try the italian then go ahead and try it. Regardless of whether it improves your fencing, you will have learned something from the experience. :)
     
  11. erooMynohtnA

    erooMynohtnA Podium

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    Maybe you're in more polite parts of the internet than I am. I think this board, in fact, even this thread are much more polite than the average internet discussion.

    However, I think the small world fencing is, and the familiarity that most people here have makes the insults much more incisive than they would normally be elsewhere.

    Now, I have a question about Italian foils. I don't understand the difference between a false ricasso and a true ricasso. I mean, I have read about them, but I don't really visually understand it, and I want to. Can anyone provide pictures?
     
  12. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    We have all achieved an accord! Very nice. Certainly my desire for calmness and coordination is extended for those self-centered "Masters" on both ends of the fencing spectrum.

    The difference between true and false ricassos come with the manufacture of the blade- in a true ricasso, the blade is composed of five parts- the button at the end, the foible, then the forte, ricasso, and tang. The ricasso is an area of flattened steel immediatly after the forte beneath the bell, with then extends into quillons or something of the like before turning into a threaded tang or something of the like. The flattened steel is where the thumb and forefinger are placed, so as to control the blade and give finer motions. What makes it a "true" ricasso is that it is made of one piece of steel, from tip to quillons to the base of the tang.

    A false ricasso is a regular blade with extra pieces. You take a regular french-cut blade, with a button, foible, forte, and long tang (for accepting a french grip) and insert a piece of steel cut to resemble the ricasso and quillons directly behind the bell, which is finished with a short handle and a nut- rather like a french grip, only with quillons and a flat steel area to hold the thumb and forefinger. The effect is still the same, but unlike the true ricasso, which has roughly four pieces (blade, bell, grip, and nut) the false has five (blade, bell, ricasso piece, grip, and nut)

    This post goes into more technical detail. Here is a picture of a false-ricasso foil, and this is an image of the "fifth" piece.

    This is what a "true" ricasso looks like, and you can see the evolution from the rapier. Note the bare steel where the thumb and forefingers go.

    "italian grips" can be used on just about any point weapon- epee, smallsword, foil, rapier, etc. Most rapiers are produced with a true ricasso as that's what makes them work well- but finding a sport fencing weapon is rather difficult.

    can you tell I have a lot of time on my hands? :D
     
  13. forethought

    forethought Made the Cut

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    I'll have something for you shortly after I get home, pictures even!
     
  14. fatfencer

    fatfencer Podium

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    Hmmmm...

    I wish they'd make an orthopedic, visconti like grip with a long heavy non separate pommel at the end... just a big streamlined blob at the wrist ao that I could use it with a strap.

    Truly, there is NOTHING about the italian that is good WITHOUT the strap. Fencing the italian makes sense for us lower to mid range guys with carpal tunnel. Using it without the strap is retarded.... i know most of you think its retarded anyways, but almost NONE of you will make an Olympic team in fencing so take a step back and see it for what it is.

    I alternate between the visconti when my hand feels good and the italian when it feels like ****.

    My hands are F'd up from years of MA, forging knives, etc. Way too long to 'untrain' the reflex of gripping things too tightly. SInce the weight of the Italian is borne by the strap and NOT the hand it makes a lot of sense.

    However, I would like to see a Visconti style with a heavy, non pommelable 'pommel' so that people would still hold it with one position, use the strap so that its locked in one position, thus freeing the fingers for feeling the blade.

    People can talk about 'evolution' but much of this is merely coach pressure and peer pressure.

    Fencing 'evolved' into wide bombastic attacks and long marches but Roch stepped in changed fencing, arguably, for the worse. But here we are, years later and nobody *****es about the tip times or chest protectors.... why? we adapted.

    I'm sure jeff and others would have a heart attack if Roch stepped in again and said only French and Italian were allowed but hey what if? Would you adapt? Evolve? Change? Or would you stay here and whine? Grudgingly you'd change I'm sure.

    That means the thing is at least USEABLE and maybe even viable for some people.

    I think we should remember that some people actually use the Italian for much the same reason people STARTED using orthos in the first place... a mild disabling carpal tunnal problem or maybe they are missing a digit. It's like kvetching because someone uses orthotics in their shoes!! Silly, isn't it?

    The italian allows those people to fence. It also allows regular people to get more feeling of the tip because it does separate the weight issue from the mobility/tip feeling issue.

    Finally, the argument that orthos are evolutionary because, in the main, 'noone' who is anyone uses them is fallacious on many levels. People use orthos because, for the most part, they are comfortable. It's word of mouth marketing. Other than some infighting instances, the Italian pokes just like any other foil.

    No one here would say the French is passe' and yet as many have pointed out, no one who is anyone uses a french in foil. I'm almost positive none currently holding an FIE license fences with a french foil. So is it perhaps a subtle pro french, anti italian snobbery that is pervasive here? Who knows.

    However, I am positive that chest protectors are not worn by the majority of FIE ranked foil fencers.. in fact I'm almost positive no one wears them.. perhaps its the same sort of sentiment, a distaste for the old and unfashionable. Often, we copy our heros in every respect, including their prejudices.

    Some of you remind me of beer snobs. You recite your loathing of the Italian grip like you would your praises of the Reinheitsgebot.

    Still hoping for an ortho with a long enough rear prong to use as with a Strap.

    Can anyone point me to one?

    Fatfencer

    PS: I can understand the prejudice that stems from the Italian associated with guys like Crown and 'classical fencers'. Admittedly they do suck big donkeykok but lets see all orthos as they are, partially a correction for an anatomical difficulty AND comfort. There is nothing about an ortho that makes you a BETTER, just more comfortable DESPITE your level of fencing expertise.

    For example, if you are an A fencer, do you suddenly slip permanently to C level because you are being forced to use an Italian? Hardly...
     
  15. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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  16. Pescados666

    Pescados666 Rookie

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  17. tdwg83

    tdwg83 Made the Cut

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    The second one is still a false ricasso. It appears that the ricasso there is the same piece as the grip. A true ricasso is part of the blade between the fort where it goes thru the bellguard and the tang.

    Pescados has a good example of the true ricasso. I almost want an Italian for instructional purposes but I have seen a few students want to use it simply because it looks "cool".
     
  18. kuroutesshin

    kuroutesshin Made the Cut

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    Yes, you're quite right- I don't know why I thought otherwise. I would definitely invest in an Italian for instructional purposes, right after an FIE jacket, a radaellian sabre, and other things that are a little more important than proving a point.

    My collegiate coach began his sabre intro day last year by bringing in his collection of blades and explaining the evolution of the weapon- from Radaelli to Pecoraro, along with schlagers and other mensur blades. He recently acquired an old military training sabre capable of breaking a bone. The thing that is important is that he's explaining the evolution of the weapon physcially. An italian used for training purposes would serve the same distinction.
     
  19. tdwg83

    tdwg83 Made the Cut

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    Right. Thats why its at the bottom of a very long list of other things I need/ want.
     
  20. needle

    needle Podium

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    I've seen people use German grip in that fashion - http://www.amfence.com/gallery/German1.jpg
     

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