Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 01 Jul 2014 07:58

It cannot be proven 100%, but there are some really strong similarities between these two pictures:

borsody_2.jpg
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Fencing master Major László Borsody in June 1935

borsody_3.jpg
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An anonymous fencer from Leszák's book (1906) (Page 10, Fig 13)
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 01 Jul 2014 08:16

Another one from the same book:

borsody_1.jpg
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We also know that Borsody worked as fencing master (or assistant fencing master, his exact title at the beginning of his career is unknown) at the Ludovika Military Academy (Budapest) between 1900 and 1925, and was appointed head fencing master on November 1, 1916.

Leszák was head fencing master at the same academy from May 1, 1912. In 1906 he wrote and published a fencing book with the photos of his colleagues, without mentioning their names in his book.

http://www.militaria.hu/rang/cd/1918/kepek/663.jpg
Page 663 of the book which lists officers & NCOs of the Hungarian Army in 1918
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Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 02 Jul 2014 01:25

Ulrich von L...n wrote:It cannot be proven 100%, but there are some really strong similarities between these two pictures:

borsody_2.jpg

Fencing master Major László Borsody in June 1935

borsody_3.jpg

An anonymous fencer from Leszák's book (1906) (Page 10, Fig 13)


The shape and placement of his ears is pretty convincing to me.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 04 Jul 2014 06:57

If somebody needs more substantial proof, he could call a (ear-hose-etc-shape recognition) expert. :wink:
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 04 Jul 2014 07:13

Santelli transformed Hungarian saber, producing a stream of world and Olympic champions and first-class masters. Yet he was not alone. Two home-bred masters formed with him a famous triptych of Hungarian coaches: "The Officer", László Borsody (who looked down on Santelli, only a sergeant), and "The Professor", László Gerentsér.

By the Sword: Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai Warriors, Swashbucklers and ...
written by Richard Cohen (2010)

Out of these three fencing masters only Gerentsér wrote a book, published in 1944, two years after his death. Santelli's pupil Laszló Szabó wrote A vívás és oktatása (Second edition, 1977), which was translated in English as Fencing and the Master (1982). Zoltán Beke (1902-1971) was Borsody's pupil and wrote A kardvívás módszertana (1962), together with József Polgár, and this book was translated as The Methodology of Sabre Fencing (1963). In both cases the translator was Gyula Gulyás.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 21 Jul 2014 09:36

An interesting German book, published in Esztergom (Hungary) in 1904 on sabre duels has been found and linked.

It contains a lot of interesting tidbits of information about the transitional period when the Italian sabre fencing completed its triumphant 10-year-long march across the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and almost fully eradicated previous sabre fencing schools (old Hungarian, taught by J Keresztessy, KuK Hoch-Terz, taught at the KuK Militär Fecht - und Turnlehrerinstitut etc), but when the sabre was still used in duels.

Just a short example:
Der Fechtsäbel aus der früheren Ära hat eine mehr gebogene Klinge, einen kürzeren, dickeren Griff, schmäleren Korb und ist vorgewichtiger als der moderne Säbel. Dieser ältere, von den Handgelenksfechtern gebrauchte Säbel wird in Österreich und in der Armee gewöhnlich als »französischer", in Deutschland als „österreichischer", und in Ungarn als „ungarischer" Fechtsäbel benannt, obwohl er der Form nach überall gleich ist.

A rough translation:
"The fencing sabre from the earlier era has a more curved blade, a shorter, thicker grip, narrower basket (guard) and is more top heavy than the modern sabre. This older sabre, used by the wrist fencers, is usually called "French" in Austria and in the (KuK) army, "Austrian" in Germany, and named "Hungarian" fencing sabre in Hungary, although its shape is the same everywhere."

This excerpt can also be found in Gerentsér's book (1941) supporting his own research that the history of fencing doesn't know an exclusive Hungarian fencing sabre as a separate sabre type. He states that in all countries, where sabre fencing was in vogue, before the arrival of the new Italian school, practically the same type was used.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 03 Aug 2014 16:10

At Ars Ensis at the end of the core curriculum, which usually takes at least four years to complete, Free Scholar candidates write a longer essay - almost a thesis, with consultants and a reviewer - on a given HEMA subject. Those essays are later published on AE's homepage.

Here is an excellent Free Scholar paper of Mátyás Miskolczi, written in English and entitled Duels in Hungary at the Turn of the 20th Century - Based on the Notes of a Duel Expert (pdf).
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 08 Aug 2014 06:22

There is a nice collection of all AHLA's rules sets from 1891 to 1930 (Amateur Fencing League of America).
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 13 Aug 2014 07:52

An author called Beverly Chico (nomen est omen?) in a book entitled Hats and Headwear around the World (2013) enlightens us about the use of swords (page 165):
During medieval times, warriors fought enemies with two-handed heavy swords. By about the 1500s, these unwieldy weapons were increasingly replaced by thin, lighter, one-handed sabers known as rapiers.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 13 Aug 2014 08:11

There is a really informative article at the National Fencing Museum's site:
The Development of Fencing Weapons written by Malcolm Fare

So far I have found only one small discrepancy.
At the 1908 Olympics in London specifications for sabre were: blade length not more than 880 mm (extended to 900 mm for the 1912 Olympics), guard 150 mm wide x 140 mm deep and maximum overall weight 500 g.

In the official report of the 4th Olympic Games (1908) the following specification can be found:
"53. (a) The total weight of the sabre must be between 470 and 780 gr."
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Chris Holzman » 19 Aug 2014 02:58

Another very interesting piece of sabre history (at least to me) is the change in technical execution of the molinelli in the official method of Parise, between the 1884 1st edition of his book and the 1904 5th edition of the same.

In the 1884 edition, section 18, he says that the molinelli are performed with the primary point of rotation at the wrist, with minimal assistance of the elbow. In the 1904 edition he deletes the word minimal. In sections 19, 20, and 21, he changes the specific execution of the downward diagonal, horizontal, and upward diagonal molinelli, respectively. In the 1884 version, in these three sections he essentially says to "extend the arm from 3rd guard to the height of the shoulder....", and then perform the cut.

In the 1904 edition, he changes this to "from the guard of 3rd the sabre is raised, carrying the hand turned [into whatever position], to the height of and a palm away from the right [or left] temple with the blade diagonally backward." Then he has the fencer perform whichever cut.

What he has done, without any other notation of it, is modify his molinelli to an essentially elbow based action. In other words, he has essentially finally converted to the more or less typical medium sized Radaellian molinelli, but keeping diagonal downward cuts instead of the vertical (verging on diagonal) downward cuts of Radaelli... This is a huge change, made in a very subtle manner. As far as I can tell, there is no mention of it anywhere in the literature.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 21 Jun 2018 17:19

In March we organized a small exhibition at the local university, dedicated to the fencing history of the predecessor of Miskolc University, namely Berg Schola in Selmecbánya, established in 1735. The exhibition covered the period between 1860 and 1918. We borrowed several items from a big private collection.

Two training sabres from the Németh Fencing Collection (the collection of Árpád Németh fencing master), used to prepare for duels.

1. Gasser (marking on the blade)

Weight: ...................... 743g (the whole sabre)
PoB: .......................... 105mm
Thickness [1]: ............... 7mm
Width: ....................... 20mm
Thickness [2]: ............... 3,5mm
Width: ....................... 17mm
Thickness [3]: ............... 1,5mm
Width: ....................... 15mm
Blade length: ................ 860mm
Curvature: ................... 26mm
Cutting edge: ................ ~1mm
Width of the shell: .......... 90mm (guard)

http://szablyavivas.blogspot.com/2018/0 ... ardok.html
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1. Measured at the guard.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 22 Jun 2018 06:41

The second sabre. Its grip is covered with golden steel mesh, which provides a very firm hold.

Weight: ...................... 661g
PoB: .......................... 85mm
Thickness [1]: ............... 6mm
Width: ....................... 18.5mm
Thickness [2]: ............... 3.5mm
Width: ....................... 16mm
Thickness [3]: ............... 1.3mm
Width: ....................... 12mm
Blade length: ................ 845mm
Curvature: ................... 23mm
Width of the shell: ......... 90mm

The shell of Olympic sabre is 140mm, measured "toward the flat of the blade (perpendicular to the edge)".
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 04 Jul 2018 13:33

During the second visit to Mr Árpád Németh, the static flexibility of several sabres has been measured.
For this we used an ordinary bath scale.

Flexibility of the sabre with "golden" grip (see the previous post): ..... 2.1kg
Average: ......................................................................... 3.4-3.5kg
The sabre with the thickest blade had the highest value: ................ 3.7kg

This value for an ordinary Olympic sabre (dry sabre, cheap Ukrainian blade):
2520-2540g (precision: +-1-2g).

P.S.:
A much better method: first use a digital kitchen scale, this way one can measure flexibility with 1-2g precision, if during the measurement the flexibility surpasses the upper limit - usually 5kg level -, then a bath scale can be used.

http://szablyavivas.blogspot.com/2018/0 ... ility.html
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 04 Jul 2018 13:48

It would be interesting to know the flexibility values of standard, most widely used HEMA sabres.
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Thearos » 05 Jul 2018 23:08

One of the all-tine great threads thanks to Holzman and Ulrich von L.... Started 12 years ago !
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 06 Jul 2018 13:07

Probably a bit of overstatement. ;-)

Anyway it is great to have this forum, so we can return, re-read old posts, use it as a reference and sometimes even add a few tidbits.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 06 Jul 2018 13:10

A Hungarian guy from our HEMA-forum has measured the static flexibility of his Regenyei sabre: 14-15 kg.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 06 Jul 2018 13:13

Just for comparison.

Keith Farrell (2017):
"Given the results in the table above, I would suggest that for a longsword, a “safe” range of flexibility would be around 6-14 kg, although a score beneath 7 kg may indicate that the sword is somewhat floppy. Swords scoring above 13 kg are perhaps a bit too stiff to be entirely safe, particularly in a tournament setting where adrenaline is running high and people are likely to throw themselves forward with as much explosive force as they can generate, to try and score the point."

Data from BlackFencer's site:
* 1796 infantry sabre: .............. 14.7 kg,
* longsword: ........................ 14.8 kg,
* arming sword: .................... 16,9 kg.
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