Saturday, April 6, 2013

A to Z: Foil

This awesome challenge is hosted by founder Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Tina Downey at Life is Good, DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0, Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie, Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse, Matthew MacNish at The QQQE, Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small, Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs, Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia, L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick, and Nicole at The Madlab Post

My A to Z theme is fencing and swordplay, focusing mainly on fencing terminology, but with a few favorite movie fencing moments thrown into the mix too. Warning: This post has a long "extra" list attached. If you are in a hurry, just read the main part, and then skip the rest.

For those of you who have asked recently, yes, I have fenced before, but I haven't fenced in many years. My best fencing year was also my worst. I went from going to a United States Fencing Association Coaching Camp at an Olympic training center to serious injury that resulted in the worst surgery I've ever had (I've had many, included 2 C-sections) and months of major recovery while fencing right-handed, doing which I actually landed a spot to go to Nationals (I didn't go and kicked myself afterwards for being a coward). Years and years later, I keep meeting teens and adults who fence, and I keep thinking about going back. At the moment, with a crazy busy life, it just doesn't seem reasonable, but I keep thinking about it. Now and then I pull out my old fencing rule book and coaches manual, and do footwork and blade-work in my living room.  
My novel, Champion in the Darkness has some swordplay in it, and I was hoping to write in more swordplay terms in my second novel, Champion in Flight, so the vocabulary you find here is a refresher for me.

F is for Foil: One of the three competition weapons for the U.S.F.A. and the Olympics. a fencing weapon with rectangular cross-section blade and a small bell guard.
Foil with a French Grip.

Foil is the basic weapons that all fencers start with, and many continue to compete with for all time. The target area for foil is the torso only, front and back. The foil, like the epee, is a point weapon in which points are scored only with the tip of the blade.

As I said in my previous post about epees, the three competition weapons and those who fence with them have a tendency to draw stereotypes in personalities and manners. Foil fencers are seen as relaxed, every day "joes and jills" who enjoy discussing rules, but who also are cool enough to joke around and have fun now and then.
(I fenced foil and sabre, and well,  you'll see what the stereotypes are like for sabre fencers when we get to 'S')

Other Fun "F" fencing terms (this list is long so feel free to ignore it):
  • False: an action that is intended to fail, but draw a predicted reaction from the opponent; also, the back edge of a sabre blade.
  • Feint: an attack into one line with the intention of switching to another line before the attack is completed.
  • Fencing Time: also temps d'escrime; the time required to complete a single, simple fencing action.
  • FIE: Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.
  • Finta in tempo: lit. "feint in time"; a feint of counter-attack that draws a counter-time parry, which is decieved; a compound counter-attack.
  • Fleche: lit. "arrow"; an attack in which the aggressor leaps off his leading foot, attempts to make the hit, and then passes the opponent at a run.
  • Flick: a cut-like action that lands with the point, often involving some whip of the foible of the blade to "throw" the point around a block or other obstruction.
  • Florentine: an antiquated fencing style where a secondary weapon or other instrument is used in the off hand.
  • Flying Parry or Riposte: a parry with a backwards glide and riposte by cut-over.
  • Foible: the upper, weak part of the blade.
  • Forte: the lower, strong part of the blade.
  • French Grip: a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel.
  • Froissement: an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a strong grazing action.
  • Fuller: the groove that runs down a sword blade to reduce weight.



    Karen Jones Gowen said...

    This is something I know absolutely NOTHING about. Interesting there are so many words beginning with F involved in swordplay!

    Al Diaz said...

    I missed the epee. And here I thought there was only one standard sword used in fencing.

    Tyrean Martinson said...

    Karen - There are tons of terms in fencing, but usually fencers learn them a bit at a time and not all at once.

    Al - Foil is the main blade used by most fencing clubs and fencers. The best clubs use three weapons - epee, foil, and saber. The SCA uses rapiers.

    Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

    Lots of unique definitions for foil today!
    You should pick up fencing again. Busy or not. Who knows where it might lead? I mean, I picked up music again and now play in a band. So who knows how far you may go?

    L. Diane Wolfe said...

    I'm so uncoordinated that I would never get past the foil stage.

    Samantha May said...

    I actually knew this term! *pats self on back*

    It might be fun to pick it up again, if only as a casual thing. I played softball from ages 4-17, and though I don't think I'll ever play competitively again I could see myself playing for fun in a church league. You never know!

    Have a great weekend :)

    Rebecca Green Gasper said...

    This is cool. I know nothing about fencing but it is so interesting. Happy A to Z -Rebecca from Moxie Writers

    Brinda said...

    I love watching fencing.

    L.G. Smith said...

    Fun! I'd like to get into fencing just for the workout. I would think all that footwork and fighting would burn a lot of calories. :)

    Mark Means said...

    I know "foible" and "forte" have other meanings and, I wonder, if they were derived from the fencing terms?

    Julie Flanders said...

    I hope you are able to pick up fencing again someday. I'm sorry you got injured like that, what a shame.

    Happy weekend, Tyrean! :)

    Tyrean Martinson said...

    Alex - Good point! I think if I get back to it, I would like to get good enough to coach again - I like competing, but coaching and satisfying in a completely different way.

    Diane - Yes, you would! I started out having a tough time and just worked on it until I got better.

    Samantha - I've played church league softball - it's pretty fun! and there are some fairly competitive church leagues.

    Rebecca - glad you enjoyed it!

    Brinda - me too!

    L.G. - It definitely does and it's a great overall strength builder because a fencer usually stands in a half-squat with their arms raised.

    Mark - they might be!

    Julie - I hope so too! Happy Weekend, Julie!

    Michael Di Gesu said...

    Hi, Tyrean,

    You'll go back to it when the time is right. We never truly give up the things we love.... And your passion for fencing is obvious....

    mooderino said...

    Competitive fencing seems to happen so fast it's hard to tell who hit who. An exciting sport, though.

    Moody Writing

    Trisha F said...

    Wow, that's a lotta Fs related to fencing :) I did fencing briefly as well, in my very early 20s, but it never really took. It was fun, though!

    Suzi said...

    Great post. I've always wanted to try fencing, and years ago, the city I lived in had a class in their adult education offerings. Unfortunately, I never got around to it. Maybe someday.

    Karen Lange said...

    This is interesting, Tyrean. I didn't know much about fencing, so now I know a little more! :)