Some fencing figures are more than what they seem, and one such figure is Andrew Fischl, known to most of us as Cyrus of Chaos.
For those of you who might not know it, Cyrus of Chaos is a major resource for fencers on YouTube. I’ve been subscribed to this channel for many years, and his fencing videos and analysis have been a wonderful addition to my own fencing knowledge. They are in depth and thoughtful, and totally unlike anything else out there. It’s a resource that has become a huge value for many fencers, no matter your weapon.
In the last few months, the channel has branched out in a wonderful way, featuring analysis with fencing coaches, great fencers, and sometimes even with fencers themselves as they analyze their own bouts. It is refreshing, it is mind blowing, and it is positively brilliant.
This is a positive source of next-level fencing understanding who’s importance cannot be overestimated, particularly during these pandemic times when we are forced to be innovative and when we are looking more and more at our screens. Cyrus of Chaos offers us the perfect mix of a solid, tried and true member of the fencing community who knows what fencing is about, mixed with youthful, out-of-the-box thinking.
In this interview, we learn more about the man behind Cyrus of Chaos, including how Andrew came to find this wonderful resource and what keeps him going. Some of the answers will surprise you, and all of the interview will enlighten you.
If you aren’t already subscribed to Cyrus of Chaos’s YouTube Channel, hop on over and subscribe!
Many parents are eager to learn Right of Way. It takes a lot of practice! Even the world’s most famous fencing parents do not always get it. I do believe that, with time, most experienced fencing parents start understanding the concept a little bit. However, they have a hard time following quick actions. Which is understandable!
I think you can teach yourself the concept and become quite good at it and thus enjoy fencing as a sport as well enjoy the fencing of your child even more.
This last bit of advice that I’m giving you is good for fencers in general and for fencing parents as well. Fencers just have an additional means of training in their club, while parents will use this as their major source of self-education.
We can learn everything about right of way or priority, as it more often called, we could master every aspect of its understanding, and yet we would not be the final word on it. The referee is. Always.
Some people say that right of way is subjective. It is not. But since it is up to the referee to decipher the fencing phrase, some referees might see it differently than other referees. In their head, the referees are shaping the actions of each fencer into these phrases. They are looking at the actions of the fencers with a keen eye that is clued into this specific and important point of right of way, because it is so essential.
To understand right of way, you need to understand the referee’s perspective. It’s so incredibly important for fencers, because without understanding this you will always be stuck. Let’s dig into some specifics of referees and right of way.
One of the most difficult concepts in all of fencing is the concept of right of way.
This concept and the understanding of it are key to making sense of fencing, no matter if you are a fencer, a coach, a parent, a referee, or a fan. This post is long. It’s long enough that we’ve broken it up into sections to help make it easier to follow. This is a mega post, so get comfortable, or better yet – bookmark this post so you can come back to it!
First, we’ll break down a new way of seeing priority. Then we’ll go through a dozen detailed examples to go even further and let you really get a deep understanding of what it’s all about. Coming at the concept from different angles is so important!
During a match, one that’s going quick as lightning already, it’s almost impossible to understand for non-fencers why the touch was not awarded. Even more difficult to understand is why the decision not to award the touch was the right one.
Before we go any further – priority and right of way are the same. They’re synonyms, and you’ll see them used as synonyms here and in the real world of fencing. You have “right of way” or you get priority. Same thing.
For a lot of people, the whole thing is so confusing, so unclear. This goes especially for newbies in fencing and for parents. It’s not just parents and fencing fans who don’t get it, epee fencers often don’t understand right of way if they didn’t start out with foil before they take on epee! Though they may have a cursory understanding of the concept, they usually don’t really get it. They might have an idea that they know that one action precedes the other, and obviously they can see parries and riposts, but often they cannot decipher complex foil or saber phrases.
The thing is, learning right of way is something that you have to do intentionally. You’re not just going to pick it up by kind of half looking at foil and saber matches. The best way to really learn right of way is to fence it, but naturally that’s not really possible for parents or epee fencers or fans of the sport. That’s why we’re sharing with you a detailed understanding of right of way in fencing, and hopefully by the end of this article you’ll get that wonderful “click” in your brain that we all want to have!
Here, I’m going to break it down in a simple way that makes sense for non-fencers. The most important point is that this post is not explaining the rules or redefining the rules. It is laying out a different way to understand who has gotten priority and thus who wins the point in foil or sabre.
The conventions of right of way have stayed more or less the same through the last century. What’s changed is the commonly used interpretations by fencing referees, pioneered first at the FIE level and then propagated down to the FIE-member countries and their domestic tournaments. Also, the explanation and examples will not cover the whole spectrum of fencing, but it will give you an ability to understand at least 80% of what happened and why a specific call was made. You definitely will not be able to understand the other 20%. Heck, there are calls that even experienced referees argue about! But, guess what? You will be able to understand and comprehend what they are arguing about these calls! Isn’t this cool?
This post is long, complicated, and it took me a few months to write and rewrite it. (Well, the pandemic did hit in the middle!) I suggest you read the first two parts till the end, preferably in the same sitting, and if you do I can guarantee you will acquire some deeper understanding of the concept. Enough that you will be able to see the phrase on Youtube matches and decipher it quite accurately, particularly if you have some training.
Everyone who follows epee fencing knows Max
Heinzer. He is the greatest showman of epee, but he’s not just putting on a
show – he’s got the competitive chops underneath to earn his place on the
Max Heinzer is one of the most high energy fencers to take on the strip. Whether it is at the World Cup, the World Championships, or the Grand Prix, he is moving and making things happen. No one can miss his signature style. It draws the eye and it draws the crowds – something that we can all agree is important for drawing people to the sport.
What makes Max Heinzer so tremendous is that it is not all show. His flare is pronounced, but it’s pronounced in such a way because it is effective for him. What he’s doing, it works. More than that, you’ll find out in this interview that he is leveraging his natural talent and style to get the result that he is after. It’s unusual and it’s fascinating for anyone who is a fencer or a fan, and hopefully for those who are new to the sport. That same personality that you see with him on the piste, you’ll see it here in this interview as well.
Thank you so much to Max for taking the time to
speak with us!