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Fencing vs "real world"

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by kBob, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    SO my son needed to pick a "sport" at his school this year and picked Fencing where they are working with the saber.

    While I like the fact he is taking anther martial art other than his Shotokan I wonder if this saber fencing has any usefulness other than as exercise and learning to learn.


  2. RedAlert

    RedAlert Well-Known Member

    As an observer and not a participant I can see several "gains" from fencing.

    Eye hand coordination, reflexes, strategic thinking, personal awareness of surroundings and others I can't think of.

    I imagine that a trained fencer would be able to make great use of a sword cane or collapsible baton if needed.

    I don't know enough about the sport to know if there is a commercial side other than the Olympics.
  3. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Best single martial art, even for real SD!

    As Red Alert mentioned, the pinpoint timing and distancing fencing teaches is incredibly valuable, even if you're unarmed.

  4. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    owen and I have studied western fencing and some others as well.

    Saber has a lot of value along the lines RedAlert has laid out. Speed, endurance, focus, reading body position, balance, footwork, sure footedness, agility, flexibility, power, independence, stress management, mental quickness. Being an individual sport it teaches personal responsibility for outcomes and real sportsmanship. Being a club or team individual sport it teaches camaraderie, sacrifice, teamwork before and after the competition.
  5. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Agility, reflexes, timing, stamina, footwork...

    When I was in college, I took dance to assist me in my footwork and balance for judo and kickboxing, and to help with my lower body strength for other sports. (Also nice to be the only single guy in a room full of fit athletic attractive women...).

    Fencing is better than many extra-curricular offerings I'm sure.
  6. 40-82

    40-82 Well-Known Member

    I took a year of fencing classes in college. It was an eye-opener. The most dangerous opponents were not necessarily the karate experts taking the class, or the strongest, or the fastest. The most dangerous were the smartest. The greatest thing about fencing is that it is a close in contact sport, and you can learn from losing to a very good opponent without it costing you anything. If you lose a boxing match, you may indeed learn, but you may never be the same either.

    One of my greatest regrets was not finding the opportunity to pursue fencing further. I had no talent, but I loved it, and it was a true confidence builder.
  7. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    I was pretty good for the 2 years I took fencing in college in the early 60s. I soon gravitated toward saber ;) which actually limited my intermural competition oppurtunities. Small wonder I recieved the "Spirit of the Bayonet" award in Army basic which gave me PFC and a ticket to Airborne training ect.:D
  8. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

    I studied Hung Gar for about five years. We spent a lot of time on the mechanical motions of throwing a punch/kick/elbow, etc, but it wasn't until I tried fencing years later that I learned about controlling tempo and distance and manipulating your opponents expectations.

    I studied saber a little, but I think foil and epee both have a lot more tactics and strategy to teach. Saber is very much first to start the attack wins.

    Many clubs will have seminars on other sword arts too, such as kendo and classical fencing.

    Florida has a pretty strong fencing scene IIRC.

    Downsides: my left knee still bothers me (tendonitis), and I haven't fenced much in about 7 years.
  9. AJumbo

    AJumbo Well-Known Member

    A fencer friend of mine points out that if you cane use a saber, you're on the fast track to being a real threat with a cane.
  10. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Well-Known Member

    I'm another who used to fence in school, but once I got to the point of needing to buy my own gear to really compete, I couldn't really continue due to finances.

    You can learn a lot through fencing (as others have mentioned). It really is more of a mental game with a small physical aspect to it. I've heard it likened to chess with blades. I was always partial to foil and I think that it's a better place to start off when first starting to fence (smaller target area, only thrusts can score) but saber was always a lot of fun.
  11. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Foil would be a better place to start than saber.
  12. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    While fighting with smaller blades is often based on Indonesian or Filipino martial arts, fighting with a large blade is often based on fencing...certainly that is what James Keating bases his technique on
  13. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Well-Known Member

  14. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    I used fencing techniques in Filipino martial arts: specifically in knife work. Fencing teaches a lot of faking, feints, and making an attack on one line, then disengaging under the parry to attack on another line.

    Fencing also uses rhythms to fake an opponent into a pattern, then you break the rhythm and nail the opponent. You also learn distances, and just how far away an opponent can be and still be able to attack almost instantly. Watch a good fencer, and be amazed by how fast they can cover ground.

    I agree with John: foil is probably the best starting point. It's a good place to learn much of the above, and many fencers stay with foil as a sport.

    OTOH, it is a sport, so there are some things that "work" in fencing, but not in the real world. I've seen fencers who rely almost totally on all-or-nothing lunges that leave them open if they don't score a hit. Fencing is also a back-and-forth game, not a combat in the round. There is little room to sidestep an attack, as many martial artists would do.

    Still, any combative art or sport has something to teach us, and fencing is no exception. Absorb what is useful and make it your own.

    All my best,
    Dirty Bob
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I agree that foil is the best starting point, but epee without the right of way or target limitations is more practical if you're interested in modern defensive applications being bolstered by the sport. While I fenced saber I don't consider the techniques to be as applicable to modern knives, but it is good for the longer cane.
  16. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    My first impulse was to say "nothing" but after reading some of the other, earlier posts I have to say they've brought up some good points. My fencing experience was limited to two semesters of foil back in college (needed the PE credit and it seemed more interesting than the more conventional offerings). I think you do have to be aware of the artificialities that the rules impose on some tactics, so as not to be caught “off guard” (no pun intended!) by an "illegal" response from your opponent.
  17. Schwing

    Schwing Well-Known Member

    I was involved in fencing for a long time as a kid. Not only is it great for self-defense but it is far more physically challenging than you would think. Some bouts can last 15-20 minutes and that is pretty non-stop action. I was a pretty fat kid when I started the sport and was thin as a rail after about a year. As others have stated, the startup costs are kind of high but they are not going to be any worse than something like football. It is far more challenging mentally and physically and you are far less likely to have a serious injury believe it or not.
  18. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys. The Boy travels from his school to U of F for his classes, but I do not know who teaches him. I have been considering showing up one day and watching. I handed him my saber, a Chinese 1900 cav blade, just for giggles this past week end. Nothing like a sports saber. Fortunately he did not sprain anything trying his parries or cut anything important off either of us. He had experessed an interest in the foil some years ago as it was available at his gym, but it conflicted with the Shotakan.

    I feel somewhat better about him taking sabre from you guys' responses.

  19. scythefwd

    scythefwd Well-Known Member

    if I met a fencer who was even moderately capable of holding the foil or epe correctly.. I'd fear for my life wiht any weapon BUT a gun. they are fast.. and while the teach to parry on the sword, a slap to the wrist in the real world will disarm without killing. At the least it'd be like getting caned with a long, metalic rod...
  20. PJSprog

    PJSprog Well-Known Member

    While I'm not a fan or "sporterizing" martial skills, as other have pointed out, there is still much to be gained from them.

    As for its "usefulness" ... well, it'll be pretty much just as "useful" in today's world as it would if he were studying Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijustsu from a Japanese master. There's not much call for those physical swordsmanship skills in our 21st century life, but the lessons learned from the study and practice are both universal and timeless.

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