The point at which the fencer and the sword connect is the grip, and it is an important starting point for fencers.
In fencing, the French grip is the simplest. It is a straight or slightly curved piece of metal, wrapped in some kind of cushioning material, with an enlarged piece at the end called a pommel. It’s old, but it’s been around for centuries for a reason – it’s effective.
Other kinds of grips, like the pistol grip, are molded in various ways to fit into the hand, but the French grip offers no special finger support. It is up to the fencer to create the structure of the hand. Because of this, the French grip is the most malleable and gives the fencer the most latitude in use.
Epee fencers use the characteristic adaptability of the french grip to create a very distinctive fencing style. An epee fencer can hold close to the handguard or further down at the pommel. How the fingers wrap around the grip is also variable, with fencers able to hold the grip any number of ways. With this grip, a fencer can “post”, or hold at the bottom of the grip in order to extend their reach, which can give a slight advantage if used in the right way during a bout.
That flexibility is the hallmark of the French grip, and it’s why it’s been consistently a favorite one of many epee fencers. Those are the basics of the French grip, but why is it so popular at the beginning of fencing training for both foil and epee fencers?