SI Vault
Ed Vebell
August 22, 1960
" My sword will speak for me," cried the hero, and bug-eyed we read on as Dumas and Sabatini filled our youthful hours with chapter upon chapter of blood and steel. At a certain age almost everyone becomes a musketeer, fencing fiercely with sticks and rods. Yet how many realize that formal fencing can be an exhilarating family sport, and one of the few in which "mixed singles" offers even competition between men and women? It is inexpensive—$30 buys all equipment—needs little space, is safe and not hard to learn. In these pages Ed Vebell, a 1952 U.S. Olympic fencer, uses his wife as a model for his own drawings and explains the basics of foil fencing .
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 22, 1960

Fencing With A Foil

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

The cutover is much like the disengage, but instead of passing his foil tip beneath the opponent's blade the attacker passes above it. This attack involves considerable movement of the blade, but only the wrist, not the arm, raises the foil.

Finally there is the beat. Keeping his hand stationary, the attacker uses his blade to push his opponent's foil tip far out, thus opening up a target for a straight thrust.

The best time to start any attack is when an opponent has one foot off the floor while moving forward.

The basic defensive movements

The simple parry is primarily instinctive action. If you are about to be stuck with a foil you try to push it away. The design of the weapon helps, for you, as the defender, are using the strong part of your foil, near the hilt, to thwart the weakest part of the attacker's blade, the section near the tip.

The object in the parry is to use just enough deflecting motion to protect the threatened area. If you over-protect, moving the foil hand too far to one side, you are immediately vulnerable to much stronger attack and have only postponed your fate.

The four basic parries protect the areas shown on page 44. In the parry of sixte the attacker's blade has been caught coming at the upper outside section of the defender's target area and has been pushed to the outside.

The parry of quarte, a strong parry because the chest muscles come into use, catches a blade coming toward the high inside area and moves it further inside and off target.

The parry of octave defends the lower outside area. It is accomplished by dropping the point of the foil in a small arc. But the foil hand must remain in its original position lest a new opening be afforded the attacker.

The parry of septime defends the lower inside area. Again the blade is dropped through a small arc with the hand being kept in its original position. This parry lends itself to the launching of a surprise counterattack.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4