Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Equipment (Page 1 of 6)

Epee Fencing Grips: Pistol Grip vs. French Grip

Epee fencing grips - french grip vs pistol gripThe nuance of fencing becomes automatic to people who have been in it for a long time, but to newcomers, whether fencers or parents, the terminology can sound very unfamiliar. The detail can be challenging to master for those who are new to it. Epee grips are one of these instances.

Often it just takes a clear, simple, high level explanation of what these things mean to facilitate mastery of the concept. A newbie might still not totally understand the intricate differences, but it lays a solid foundation that can inform fencing in the future.

The grip is simply the part of the fencing sword that the fencer holds. Think of it as being the other side of a handshake, the place where the sword unites with the fencer to become an extension of their own body. How that interface happens is important, and over the years there have been many various grips developed by fencers. It is one of the most important parts of the fencing sword  because the comfort, agility, mobility, strength, reach, and many other factors are affected by how the hand holds the weapon.

Over the centuries, grips have been developed by master sword makers to to uniquely address different facets of fencing and different styles adopted by fencers. In modern fencing there are two primary grips, namely the pistol and the french grip. Those two are actually broad categories however, and there are variations on each of the grips. Eventually each fencer chooses her or his own style, or modifies an existing grip to suit their own style.

Almost every fencer will start fencing with a french grip, whether they are a foilist or an epeeist. This is because the french grip handle “forces” a new fencer to correctly hold the weapon and to work with their fingers. Those novice mistakes in holding technique are much more visible to a coach with a french grip  and thus this grip provides a better mechanism for a coach to correct such mistakes.

Eventually with experience, foil fencers will transition to the pistol grip, while epee fencers will split into two major camps – french grip fencers and pistol grip fencers. It means epeeists have the luxury of choice, and neither is strictly correct or incorrect. That choice can be challenging if you don’t understand the good and the not so good of the two mainstream epee fencing grips.

Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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How to Safely Pack Your Fencing Bag with Wet Clothes

How to Safely Pack Your Fencing Bag with Wet ClothesFencing clothes get wet. Not wet like swim trunks or rain jackets, but wet from the heaping amounts of sweat that pour out of a fencer’s body throughout the course of a strenuous practice in thick gear.

The real deal with sweat

First off, let’s talk about sweat.

There is something deeply satisfying about getting in a hard workout at the fencing club. Running up and down the strip, feeling those muscles tense and release, it’s good stuff! That good stuff also produces smelly, wet stuff in the form of perspiration.

Sweat in and  of itself is basically water expelled from the skin in order to cool the body down. There’s not actually bacteria in the sweat itself, rather it’s the bacteria on our skin that mixes with the sweat and digests the small amounts of sugar in it that causes the odor.

There’s no reason to feel crazy about sweat, our bodies are meant to do this. It’s healthy to sweat. What’s no healthy is for that sweat and bacteria to stick around and smell like a rhinoceros as a result. The odor gets worse the longer fencing gear stays sweaty, not to mention the risk of bacteria getting out of control. Getting rid of the bacteria and keeping fencing equipment dry should be a priority.

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The anatomy of a fencing sword

The Anatomy of the Fencing Sword - Everything you need to know about composition, materials and qualities and differences of the modern fencing swordsFencing as a distinct form of combat goes all the way back to the 12th century when fencing schools started to spring up in Europe. Even to those first fencers the sword was seen as extension of the body. Fencing swords are more than just pieces of metal, they are pieces of us.  

To the uninitiated, a fencing sword is a long piece of thin metal with a handle and a guard. It looks quite simple on the outside, but every piece and part of the fencing sword has a name and a purpose. These weapons were developed over the course of centuries of consistent use, and let’s just say that fencers have become detail oriented about their weapons.

New fencers might not know the names of all of the parts of their weapon, but it’s knowledge that helps fencers to become true masters of this art. So let’s review the parts of the fencing sword! We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up.

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Standardize Your Weapon

Standardize Your Weapons

I recently had a conversation with one of our fencers where she told me that her favorite epee broke and she does not have time to fix it before her next competition. All of the parts of all of her weapons were different: the guards, blades, tips, pistols. Nothing was the same.

I was surprised to hear that she had been using a Frankenstein-ed version of a weapon cobbled together with different pieces and  different blades. While I understand that might have been the only way she could attain the right kind of weapon at the time, it made me realize that there are some very important considerations for you to take when purchasing and assembling your arsenal.

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Old Fencing Gear – What Should You Do with It?

Old Fencing GearWhat happens to old fencing gear? Where does it go?

Fencing equipment isn’t forever

Though it’s oftentimes expensive, fencing equipment isn’t something that lasts for an extended of amount of time.

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