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CLASSICAL FENCING

"Classical" or "Traditional" are terms for a style of fencing stretching from the late 18th century to the early part of the 20th century.  Apart from the timeline of history, classical fencing can also be separated by methodology (what is being taught) and pedagogy (how it is being taught).  The contrast can be seen clearly in bouts between classically trained fencers and those of the "Modern" or "Olympic style."  The nature of classical fencing can best be summed up by the fencing master Louis Rondelle.

"A classical fencer is supposed to be one who observes a fine position whose attacks are fully developed, whose attacks are marvelously accurate, his parries firm and his reposted executed with precision.  One must not forget that this regularity is not possible unless the adversary is a party to it.  It is a conventional bout, which consists of parries, attacks, and returns, all rhyming together." ~ Rondelle

In a very direct way, the classical fencers trains for a duel (which in these modern times will never come).  But one trains with the mindset and techniques that allow for a skilled and intelligent exchange with full knowledge that a single hit could spell doom.  The blades must not be whipped, in-fighting is discouraged, and sportsmanship is paramount throughout.

What I tend to see in most modern or "sport" fencing events are the exact opposite - a hurried salute, followed by untamed blade movements and aggressive offensive charging - often to a distance whereby the fencer must contort their body in order to lay their point on target.  This display ultimately ends with a wild pumping of the arm and a barbarous scream of victory - which is often an act, a way of somehow persuading the director and/or audience that they were successful.  In most cases, both fencers know the truth.

Despite how it might sound, I am NOT against sport fencing, in many ways I am a big fan. However, as speed, reflexes, and explosiveness are attributes that diminish with age, I'd rather foster the development of sword fighting skills that (if practiced diligently) continue to grow. These attributes are understanding of distance and timing, control of the body and blade (technique) and the ability to read their adversary. 

WHAT WE TEACH

I know that the game of fencing and the popularity of fencing is overwhelming "Sport." To young fencers, competition is where the excitement is and I understand this well.  I was there once (for a brief time).  Therefore, I tailor each private lesson to the student in front of me. However, the way I teach seldom changes.  The student will always get quality classical instruction,...and those seeking competition, will get a specialized curriculum that includes ways of utilizing classical training to become a better sport fencer.  If they are not interested in classical instruction, I will gladly point them to other local instructors.

All of my students begin with the foil - as it is the training tool of ALL weapons. After a strong foundation is laid the student may be introduced to the smallsword and/or the dueling sabre. These two weapons give the student a better understanding of sword fighting and brings their skillset to a new, practical level.

WHERE WE TEACH

Miller Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been our "Go-to" location since the beginning.  Nestled at the start of Trail #1 is a concrete slab that is occasionally used for the practice of stage performances.  During the weekends, it hardly gets used - except by us! On rainy days when the temperature and conditions are still suitable for fencing, we'll use the shelter at Lewisville-Clemmons Park.

This outdoor setting allows us not only a flat surface to replicate the common fencing piste, but also place to explore other terrains that would be present in the duels of the past.

Winston-Salem, for nearly 11 months out of the year has manageable, fence-able temperatures.  However, if there is ever any rain, or weather too hot or cold, we simply reschedule.

IF INTERESTED IN LESSONS

     * Contact Coach Joyce at 336-337-0348 or via email at wsfencers@gmail.com

     * Lessons are NOT at Miller Park Rec Center. Miller Park walking trails are across from Moore Elementary School

     * Students are to dress comfortably and wear clothed toe shoes.  Equipment will be provided.

     * Most lessons are 1-on-1, however you are free to bring a friend at no additional cost.

THE FREE FENCING EXCHANGE

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Occasionally, on one Sunday of the month, we meet at Reynolda Gardens for a special 2 hour event that we call the Free Fencing Exchange (FFX).  The Winston-Salem Fencing Club is open to ALL individuals interested in fencing.  Bring your equipment and meet us on the grassy strip (piste)!  No fees, no dues… just a friendly exchange of blade-on-blade action (See “Rules” below).  Event is weather pending.  Event will be rescheduled due to rain, snow, and/or ice or excessive hot/cold temperatures, so check the weather before you go out.

RULES:

It is important everyone has fun, but in a safe manner.  Individuals under the age of 13 are not permitted to bout without the direct (and constant) supervision of a parent or qualified fencing instructor*.  Individuals of all ages, however, may watch and learn from others and are encouraged to do so.

  • All participants must wear the appropriate protective clothing.  (Eye protection is a must!)

  • Always treat your fellow fencer with the same respect you wish to be given.

  • Introduce yourself before each bout by stating your name clearly

  • Always salute your opponent (and ‘director’ if present) before and after each bout.

  • Always, shake your opponent’s hand directly after finishing a bout.

  • Do not argue over touches.

  • Do not use excessive strength against your opponent.  Always strive to maintain proper form.

  • Use of hurtful words or gestures will NOT be permitted.


*   The F.F.X. is for students to hone their skills through bouting, and forging friendships with those people who share like interests. 

NEXT EVENT: SUNDAY, T.B.A. (download bouting RULES)

 

SPECIAL LINKS

HANDOUTS - PDF Format

BEGINNING

INTERMEDIATE

TECHNIQUES & TACTICS

(Available through lessons only)

  • The Art of Flinching

  • Fencing the Left-Hander

  • Becoming a Duelist

  • It's A Trap: The Art of Trapping

  • Small Sword Techniques

  • Small Sword Drills

  • Dueling Sabre Molinelli

Game Handouts

(Available through lessons only)

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