Monday, April 8, 2013

A to Z: Get a Grip!

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.

Get a Grip! (And a Guard)

Grip: the handle of the weapon.
Guard: the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit. Also, the defensive position assumed when not attacking. We're focusing on the weapon at this point.

 leather-wrapped foil or epee grip
 pistol grip on an epee, pistol grips can also be used with foils
a pic of the three main fencing weapons, showing the whole weapons. Notice the different guard structures for each.

A French grip is held lightly in the hand, using the thumb and forefinger primarily. The rest of the fingers are wrapped lightly around the grip as "aids" to help steady the weapon. The grip should be held "lightly in the hand as if holding a bird, not too tight and not too loose."
Pistol grips can be used for foils and epees, and they are sometimes called Italian, or Belgian, because pistol grips originated there and are still manufactured there.
Sabres only have one type of grip, shown here.
I have only used the French grip, and the sabre grip. Why? Because although my first coach used both pistol and French grips, he wanted all of his students to use the French grips to strengthen our hands and be prepared for a variety of weapons. He felt the best fencers could fence with all three weapons, without having to fuss over grip styles. The pistol grip is very popular with competitive foil and epee fencers who do not fence sabre because it is easier to hold onto in a bout, and gives the hand more support. I wanted to fence sabre so I stayed with a French grip on my foil. Besides I became so fond of my first grip that I actually took apart my first foil, when the blade went bad, so I could put together my second foil with my original leather grip.
If you take a look at the guard on all three fencing weapons, you'll see some major differences that come from the different target areas for those weapons.
Foil fencers only target the torso, front and back, so the guard on foils is fairly small. It just protects the hand from random, accidental strikes.
Epee fencers target the whole body, with the exception of the back of the head and neck, so the guard on the epee is large. Many points are scored by hitting the opponent on the hand and wrist. The larger bell shaped guard protects that area.
Sabre fencers target the upper body from the waist up (except the back of the head and the neck), and points can be scored on the hand and wrist. So the guard for the sabre protects that area, and reflects the fact that a sabre fencer can make both side cuts and point thrusts for points.

 Rapier, with Italian cup hilt. Rapier fencing is popular with the S.C.A. and although it isn't competed with in fencing circles, it is occasionally discussed. Rapiers (dulled, and not edged like this one) are used in the S.C.A. and points are scored with both the edge and the point, which again is reflected in the guard's shape. Traditional weapons like this never have pistol grips.
I could have fun finding pictures of swords and their grips and guards all day. :)
Other fencing terms for G:
Glide:  an attack or feint that slides along the opponent's blade, also called a coule.
Guard as in En Garde, which means to take a defensive position, or get ready for an attack. The director (referee) of a bout usually tells both fencers "en garde" before the action begins and both fencers are required to stand a certain length apart in their guard positions before the director starts the bout with a signal.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The pistol grip would be good for those who want to feel like they are shooting as well.

Julie Flanders said...

I love the pics of the types of weapons, I didn't realize there were different types used in fencing. Also want to start yelling "En Garde!" now just because. :D

Juliet Bond said...

Very cool! Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

Amy Jarecki said...

Fencing is so cool! Great to learn a bit about grips. Thanks for sharing!

Julie Luek said...

So cool-- love the pictures. I'm waiting for a few of you!

Milo James Fowler said...

I never knew the pistol grip was even an option!

Barbara Watson said...

So cool! Do you compete?

Cathy said...

Thank you for your A-Z theme! I love it when people do something that's informational. Next time I need to know about fencing and swordplay, I'll know where to come. And I'll keep up by reading your A-Z posts.
I'm your newest follower, via the A-Z.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Didn't realize there were so many different grips. There is so much to fencing. And you know an amazing amount about it.

Mark Means said...

Sort of like reality...if you don't have a strong grip, you're going to lose it :)

Allison said...

Huh, didn't realize different grips strengthened the hand.

Allison (Geek Banter)

Al Diaz said...

I like the saber. If I would learn fencing, I think I would go with the saber.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

So glad I came across your blog. I love watching fencing during the Olympics - sadly, that's the only time I get to see it. Hopefully I'll learn a lot more about this beautiful sport!

Keep Calm and A-Z
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Elise Fallson said...

Awesome post. I think I've got a grip on it. (;

I'm glad Alex mentioned you were doing a swordplay theme. My post today is on Hoplology with a short clip of two guys demonstrating longsword fighting techniques.

A-Z participant blogging from Elise Fallson

jaybird said...

You go girl! With whatever grip you use.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Wow, great theme! I have done Medieval fencing for a while, it was very different from modern, but a lot of fun, and very challenging.
Happy A to Z! :)

Misha Gericke said...

I fence almost exclusively with french grips. Probably a hold-over from my D'Artagnan fangirl-ship.

And yep, that's present tense. Went to my first class on Saturday, and am planning to continue.

As a final thought: eppee+french grip= excruciating hand cramps. It's really a lot heavier than foil. Still, I'll get used to it. The grip lengthens my reach, which I like.