Italian stance and guard question.

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by countertime, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. countertime

    countertime Rookie

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    I have been watching a number of bout archives and (as many have noted in other threads), I am fascinated by the - I guess you could say - unconventional stance and guard variations that seem to be primarily used by Italians. Specifically:

    Paolo Pizzo's stance. What advantages/disadvantages does this type of forward leaning stance have? I would assume that this results in weight shift to the front foot and would facilitate more rapid retreats but as a pretty aggressive fencer, I would think this wouldn't be as effective as it obviously is. So I'm thinking my assumptions are pretty far off. Any insights?

    Also, I have noticed a bell guard/blade/grip relationship that is likewise perplexing me in terms of what is actually going on and what the advantages/disadvantages would be -- again, primarily in Italian fencers Paolo Pizzo and Marco Fichera. It looks to me that either the bell-guard is rotated so that the longest distance between the blade and rim of the bell-guard is at twelve or one o'clock (as opposed to the more typical 4:30 position) or that the tang is canted so severely that this creates the illusion of the off-set bell-guard (putting the pinkey well below the rim of the BG while leaving a bit of space between the thumb and rim). Does anyone out there do this and, if so, why?

    Both aspects of my question can be seen in these bouts:



    Any insights and observations would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. malediction

    malediction Made the Cut

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    Leaning forward collapses available chest target, moves your shoulder (and therefore arm) closer to the opponent, and can change the angles the opponent needs to attack with to score a solid hit. It also changes the way body feints will look.

    The highly canted blade changes the angles of binds, beats, and parries, thus forcing the opposing fencer to respond slightly differently than they might be accustomed to responding. It also allows the blade to be parallel to the ground even with a bent arm position, which has various small advantages for a fencer who fences bent over.

    I have no idea why this style might be more prevalent among the Italians. Do Pizzo and Fichera share a common coach or club background?
     
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  3. Nakita

    Nakita Made the Cut

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    I think I sort of lean in.
    But I fell backwards a few years back in a tournament and broke my wrist.
    Leaning Foward and downward makes me feel like I won't fall backwards, and I'm closer to the ground so maybe if I fall it's not as far down. :)
    Malediction's answer sounds way better though.
     
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  4. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    The leaning-forward on-guard in epee started with the Hungarian women, I think. Szasz fences very lean-forward:



    and has since I first saw her fence in 2005 or so. I don't think any Italian men were fencing in a forward leaning stance that long ago.
     
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  5. Nakita

    Nakita Made the Cut

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    I'm feeling like an elite fencer now.
    It has made my Monday way better.:)
     
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  6. brtech

    brtech Podium

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    Technically, the only rule about where the blade is with respect to the guard is m.17.3:
    Eccentric mounting is allowed provided the distance between the center of the guard and the point where the blade passes the guard does not exceed 3.5 cm.

    The blade cant is limited by the cylinder test: the grip can't extend beyond the max cylinder diameter of 13.5 cm (m.17.1). Of course, the length of the grip affects this: the longer the grip, the smaller the cant limit.
     
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  7. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    I would opine that the leaning is what makes the fencer comfortable. I often unconsciously do it because it feels right. The canting and position of the hand/blade/guard on the other hand. We've all had opponents that gave us particular trouble. Again just another opinion but if the opponent is really into picks to the bottom of the wrist or flicks over the top then that position would be very exposed IMO.
     
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  8. TallLeftyPommelingGit

    TallLeftyPommelingGit Rookie

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    Very interesting! My daughter just got back from an epee camp in Italy and as soon as we started going through our normal sequences she started missing hits to my forearm. I said what's going here and it turns out the coaches were insistent on her maintaining a bent arm at the elbow even when delivering a final hit. With the arm bent like this her hand was no longer in the correct position to direct the point down on to the forearm and so she had been directed to bend the wrist down more to compensate. This bending in two places was causing the misses.
    The reasoning seems to be to sacrifice some point distance in order to gain some circular mobility of the hand should you need it for disengages or parries. I'm not convinced. Or maybe she missunderstood when it's supposed to be used.
     
  9. sdubinsky

    sdubinsky DE Bracket

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    Did she mention anything about the coaches wanting her to stand a lot closer? I've been noticing that a lot in the Italians as well, and it would go along with wanting a constantly bent arm.
     
  10. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    Watching the first video with the fast forward movement and fleching made me think of the tv movie "The First Olympics 1896" where they (fictionalized?) the discovery of starting runners in the 'modern track starting stance.'

    My youtube- and google-foo failed when trying to find a clip.
     
  11. TallLeftyPommelingGit

    TallLeftyPommelingGit Rookie

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    No, we think now that it was just a little bend that was required in order to encourage a relaxed shoulder and she was just over doing it a bit.
     

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