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FENCING - The Art of Giving Without Receiving

February 20, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 144

Fencing is the sport of kings and considered a science by many who practice the sport. The art of attacking and defending oneself with a foil is one of the oldest sports and has been practiced for hundreds of years.

Modern fencing developed out of the swordplay of the medieval ages. It was a time when "might made right" and an individual's life and honor depended entirely on their ability to wield a rapier or sword with the greatest skill. In order to keep their skills honed, the ponderous old swords were eventually exchanged for the sensitive, tapering foil used today in modern fencing. Downward slashes and side cuts were replaced by the thrust. Ultimately science made success with a foil the result of art instead of brute strength.

Swords were first used by the Greeks and the Romans. These early weapons were clumsy implements of bronze and could inflict terrible wounds. However Spain is credited with initially elevating swordsmanship to an art.

From Spain swordplay spread to Italy and France and later to Germany, England and America, etc. The word "sword" is often used interchangeably when referring to several different types of weapons. Included among the weapons referred to as "swords" were huge, double-bladed bars of metal swung with both hands used to crush heavy plates of armor. There were less heavy pointed blades with both edges sharpened that were wielded with one hand and finally came the rapier, a lighter weapon allowing the use of much more skill and precision. Likewise daggers were a necessary accessory for both Knights and gentleman of leisure.

There is a saying that goes; The history of the sword is the history of the world. This statement is particularly true for the period between the middle of the sixteenth century (1550) to the middle of the seventeenth century (1650). The preferred weapon of the times was the Spanish rapier combined with a poniard, buckler and a gauntlet or cloak.

The introduction of the rapier brought about "the most quarrelsome period in history." Instruction and training in the art of swordsmanship were in high demand everywhere. Fortunes were made in Italy by sword experts giving lessons. All these newly acquired skills resulted in an explosion of duels and street fights. Unfortunately sword play was an all too common means of proving one's manliness which could only be demonstrated by spilling large quantities of blood over the most trivial slight.

Initially, a rapier was a plain, cross-hilted sword. Guards were attached to protect the hand and still later the hand guard morphed into the 'cup' handle by which the rapier is recognized today. A rapier is usually around four feet long and in some cases has been extended to five feet in length, tapering to a very sharp point.

Over time the rapier blade got shorter and lighter. As improvements to the sword were made, similar advances to the science of swordsmanship advanced as well. The parry, the feint and the lunge were developed and refined. The lunge, the forward movement of the body, was a radical development for its time. It is executed by advancing the forward foot without moving the rear foot.

There are two distinct schools or systems of fencing; the Italian System and the French System.

The French system is currently considered the better of the two. The French school relies on grace, agility and the ability to develop a sensitive touch with the sword. The French system is art in motion and is all about touch and go at every moment. The Frenchman wins by finesse, by highly developing the art of skillful maneuvering.

The Italian system depends on the strength and power of the swordsman to beat down his opponent. Someone once said, "One needs the strength of Hercules to be a successful Italian fencer; on the other hand a woman can be the best in the French school."

Andy is a life long coffee lover and fencing wanna-be.

You can find more cool stuff you didn't know about coffee and pick up a free coffee trivia guide full of all sorts of fun and interesting facts you didn't know about the coffee you drink at: [].

It will make your coffee more interesting and enjoyable!

Source: EzineArticles
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