When and how did fencing become a sport?

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by jjefferies, May 10, 2019.

  1. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,926
    Likes Received:
    196
    Just looking to you guys to fact check me. But is there a specific time when we can say that Fencing became a sport? I have been under the impression it was a somewhat gradual thing as foil was the pedagogical game in the salle d'arms of Europe and then when dueling fell from favor the game of foil continued. Also did saber fencing not come after foil and before epee as a recognized game?
     
  2. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,917
    Likes Received:
    676
    Fencing, which is to say swordplay with blunted weapons for points, as a game, predates foil. There were fencing games using blunted longswords, for example, and George Silver talks about various fencing games using various simulators, leather and wooden swords for example, played for points in public demonstrations.

    Foil as a training game for a real fight may be one of those just-so stories. I recall, though I don't have a cite off the top of my head, that the earliest descriptions of foil were as a demonstration of skill; it was a sport from the outset, not really a game to teach you to fight. It was always for fancy play, not to teach you real technique for sharp swords.

    Modern light saber fencing as a sport, as opposed to drills and practice done with heavy sabers as preparation for a fight, is about as old as epee, I think. It may be younger. I think it was only introduced in the last Olympics of the 19th century. For both the transition from martial practice to a sport is a little messy, but they both developed in the late 19th century and were clearly sports with point scoring and rules and winners and losers and so on by the early 20th century.
     
  3. Grey Sabreur

    Grey Sabreur Made the Cut

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    41
  4. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2001
    Messages:
    16,564
    Likes Received:
    621
    Trying to clarify your answer on Quora?
     
  5. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    1,256
    Likes Received:
    422
    Medinet-habu wall small.jpg The Temple of Medinet-Habu in Luxor, Egypt, has a frieze describing a feast that was held around 1190 BC commemorating a military victory. As entertainment, there were wrestling matches (shown on the left) and fencing using sticks. The fencers appear to be wearing some sort of head protection attached by a chin strap. There's a referee to the right with a barrier to place between the fencers to stop the action. Both of these suggest that they were developed during the course of fencing competitions for safety reasons and so fencing itself was being practiced even before this time. Since sticks were available before metal swords were made, it would also seem that stick fencing was the earliest "weapon" that was fenced.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
    Inquartata and K O'N like this.
  6. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    37,088
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Hey, Ancientepee, I did not give you permission to post a photo of me.

    So embarassing.
     
    erik_blank and ReadyFence like this.
  7. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,926
    Likes Received:
    196
    Yeah, I do try to get it right or at least reasonable.
     
  8. SJCFU#2

    SJCFU#2 Podium

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2003
    Messages:
    3,579
    Likes Received:
    154
    Were you ever that young?
     
  9. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    1,256
    Likes Received:
    422
    For those interested in the start of fencing competitions in the United States, attached is a brief history of fencing in the US prior to the founding of the Amateur Fencers League of America (as the USFA was then called) and the first set of fencing rules that they adopted.
     

    Attached Files:

    sdubinsky and DHCJr like this.
  10. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    37,088
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Yes, but well before the Old Kingdom days.
     
  11. sdubinsky

    sdubinsky DE Bracket

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    80
    By The Sword is a pretty decent summary of the history of fencing. I'd recap some of it here but my sister stole my copy and still hasn't given it back.
     
  12. Malicia

    Malicia Made the Cut

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2019
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    34
    Rules for the Prize of the two swords - at Toulouse (France) - 17th century (every year on may)
    [​IMG]
    in L’art en fait d'armes ou de l'épée seule, avec les attitudes, by Jean-François Labat, editor Toulouse - chez J. Boude, 1696
     
  13. Pt_fencer

    Pt_fencer Made the Cut

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    Leon Paul blog as the story of foil and epee
     

Share This Page