HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Gordon L » 13 Apr 2012 00:16

Matt/admin wrote:the military sabre methods taught by Angelo, Hutton, Burton etc were drastically different to Masiello's manual of 1895


I imagine that's why Hutton was resisting the Masiello-sation of the sabre-training quite so vociferously. :-)
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Gordon L » 13 Apr 2012 00:34

Matt/admin wrote:Gordon, this is quite a leap you are making!

McLaren's work of 1862 is on gymnastics and *foil* fencing for fitness only. It does not deal with military sword (sabre) fencing.


[It's] Not really [quite a leap I'm making]. The army saw that gymnastic training (in the then-current sense, rather than the modern sense of training for current Olympic-rules gymnastics events) was effective for the French and Prussian armies. Fencing was a part of what they were doing.

The british army formed a committee to investigate - McLaren was on that committee - then set up their own gymnastic training regime, as far as I can tell essentially modelled on McLaren's own gym in Oxford.

(Another contemporaneous book which shows a similar trainer and gym is Thomas Griffith's "The Modern Fencer" of 1868, with it's lovely pricelist at the back, covering foil fencing, "the gloves", ladies' deportment and medical gymnastics).

The reason I bring up the army's initiative of the 1860s is that it shows why an army inspector of gymnasia ends up having the clout to Masiello-ise the army's manual and training, over the top of Hutton, who was a noted celebrity and authority in UK fencing circles. Which essentially meant the armed services, the London Fencing Club, and a few university clubs. (Burton didn't have clout by this stage).
Last edited by Gordon L on 13 Apr 2012 00:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Gordon L » 13 Apr 2012 00:41

Slightly off-topic - I've spent this evening proofing an OCR'd version of Riboni's 1862 sabre book.

Has the community got a place to publish these things? Or announce them? Or should I just stick it on my own school's web-site?
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 13 Apr 2012 08:21

Gordon L wrote:I've spent this evening proofing an OCR'd version of Riboni's 1862 sabre book...

It seems that there is a Riboni's sabre book in the 19thC Treatises topic.
(Broadsword fencing & Quarterstaff - Riboni - 1862)
From here: http://archive.org/details/broadswordquarte00ribo
Is it the same book?
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby admin » 13 Apr 2012 11:16

Chris Holzman wrote:Whoa. Matt, are you saying the 1895 book that Masiello created is sort of an ad hoc system for that specific weapon that differs from Masiello's general practices? If so, I'd love to see that, just to see what the differences are, and see if I can figure out why he made those changes.


Chris, I have never looked at Masiello's other material, but I own a hard copy of the 1895 manual. Coming from a perspective of the 1845 manual and the more 'normal' British stuff found in Waite etc, Masiello's 1895 manual seems very very different and from my perspective suits the 1892 thrusting blade better - the first half of the 1895 manual is pretty much a thrusting system IMO. The cuts are thrown in later (given from the elbow with moulinettes, as you say), but they seem to me like somewhat of an after-thought, which for the 1892 thrusting blade does not seem inappropriate.
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby admin » 13 Apr 2012 11:22

Gordon L wrote:
Matt/admin wrote:the military sabre methods taught by Angelo, Hutton, Burton etc were drastically different to Masiello's manual of 1895


I imagine that's why Hutton was resisting the Masiello-sation of the sabre-training quite so vociferously. :-)


In part, sure.
But I think there is more to it than that - Hutton strongly believed in a cut and thrust system of military swordsmanship, and the 1892 blade pretty much ruled that out. As I understand it, he was as opposed to that regulation sword blade as to Masiello's system - Hutton actually published a rebuke to Masiello's 1895 system in about 1896 or 7, but I have never obtained a copy of it, so I can't say what his specific objections were. There is a copy in the Victoria and Albert Museum library. Hutton also believed in using grips, disarms and closing techniques in military swordsmanship, as explained in his Appendix to The Swordsman (2nd Ed.) in 1898.
Of course it was all moot by that point, as hardly any British officers were interested in swordsmanship anymore and were instead buying semi-automatic pistols!
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby admin » 13 Apr 2012 11:34

Gordon L wrote:The reason I bring up the army's initiative of the 1860s is that it shows why an army inspector of gymnasia ends up having the clout to Masiello-ise the army's manual and training, over the top of Hutton, who was a noted celebrity and authority in UK fencing circles. Which essentially meant the armed services, the London Fencing Club, and a few university clubs. (Burton didn't have clout by this stage).


Yes, McClaren certainly seems to have made the right friends. I don't think Masiello's system relates to the sportification of sabre fencing though. For a start it is very different to early sport fencing videos (from 20 years later), in terms of stance, engaging guard, the way the cuts are made... in fact it's different in most regards to early sport sabre fencing. Also they used the 1895 pattern military gymnasium sabre, which is a more hefty beast than the early sport sabres.

The precise origin of sport sabres and sport sabre fencing remains somewhat obscure to me. In a British context it seems to sort of spring from nowhere in about 1910, with a very different style and practice weapon to what was being taught as military sabre fencing. I can only assume that it was imported, but it doesn't seem to have been the Italian form.
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Thearos » 17 Apr 2012 12:49

Apologies for resurrecting this thread.

Admin writes in the Kendo etc thread:

"In short, the modern sport sabre is not a simulator of any particular historical sword. It is a more or less modern invention - at most you could say that it is a lighter and more hilt-balanced evolution from the last generation of Italian gymnasium sabres. But I thought we had already clarified this in the 'other' thread."

and in this thread, dates this invention around 1910. Do we know enough to understand how and why this happened ? I.e. can it be attributed to a precise group of people (e.g. linked to the Olympic movement ?) ? Or is it something that just emerges everywhere because a lot of people are thinking the same thing ?

-- and should that thing not be something like this ? --"It's now clear that bladed weapons, i.e. military sabre, will not play an important part in military conflict, because they're being displaced by personal firearms and because the military sword itself has changed into a specialized cavalry weapon whose main use is thrusting stiffly-- so we might as well make sabre into a sport with a special instrument that allows light slashes and cuts, rather than something that looks like the obsolete moulinet-centred military sabre"

I would have thought that this process left traces: official papers, discussions in magazines and the press, etc.
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby admin » 17 Apr 2012 13:20

Thearos wrote:and in this thread, dates this invention around 1910. Do we know enough to understand how and why this happened ?


I would say no we don't know precisely, based on what I have read.

It is very different to Hutton's gymnasium sabre of c.1900. It is very different to the British Army gymnasium sabre of the 1890's. It is entirely different to German straight and Austrian curved schlagers. Yet the sport sabre itself doesn't seem to have changed much since the 1920's. The sport sabre is quite different to Italian gymnasium sabres of c.1910 in my eyes, but perhaps around the 1910's-1920's the Italian gymnasium sabre evolved into what we now know as the sport sabre, I'm not sure.

Although perhaps it is from France? France seems likely, as the foil and epee and all modern fencing's terminology is French. The FIE is French. Camille Prevost basically created modern fencing. The Italians had their distinctive own form of foil and did not like the epee generally. Italian duelling sabre method seems very different to early sport sabre method to me - where did the latter come from? I'd say France.

"It's now clear that bladed weapons, i.e. military sabre, will not play an important part in military conflict, because they're being displaced by personal firearms and because the military sword itself has changed into a specialized cavalry weapon whose main use is thrusting stiffly-- so we might as well make sabre into a sport with a special instrument that allows light slashes and cuts, rather than something that looks like the obsolete moulinet-centred military sabre"


I would say that is probably fairly accurate.

I would have thought that this process left traces: official papers, discussions in magazines and the press, etc.


You would think... but I have not seen any and I have been looking.
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Thearos » 17 Apr 2012 14:35

A fencer born in 1866 shows his stuff in 1950:

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/agesi ... ry/fencing
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby John H » 17 Apr 2012 17:02

I know its 'normal' But I love the shot of him flexing and his right arm is noticable bigger...
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Thearos » 17 Apr 2012 18:43

The interest of this clip, linked to many times on this site

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/flash ... re+fencing

and even on this thread, I think, is that it shows fencing styles on both sides of the Great Divide (military or military-descended to sport sabre), by people who lived the change and were aware of it. NB they think that the new stuff (which is obviously, for them, better), is Italian ?
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Mink » 17 Apr 2012 20:10

admin wrote:Although perhaps it is from France? France seems likely, as the foil and epee and all modern fencing's terminology is French. The FIE is French. Camille Prevost basically created modern fencing. The Italians had their distinctive own form of foil and did not like the epee generally. Italian duelling sabre method seems very different to early sport sabre method to me - where did the latter come from? I'd say France.

I don't think it's French originally.
This page (in French) gives a brief history of the style that lead to the sport. Apparently, to sum things up, the style came from Hungarian school integrating elements of Italian sciabola from Radaelli. French sabreurs, according to the author, used the Italian style before the Hungarian school became dominant. That article was written in 1965 by maître Raoul Cléry.

I don't know at all how the original Hungarian method (before mixing in Italian elements) looked, or what kind of training weapon they used. But maybe that accounts for the difference between the "pure" Italian method and the sport style that appeared before WWI.

The article linked above offers this quote (the author speaks about the advantages of the hungarian sport style):
Enfin, et en dernier lieu, je crois, une méthode qui s'est inspirée d'abord de la technique italienne, l’a dépouillée de ses fioritures, de ses complexités, tout en lui substituant un principe fondamental hongrois le jeu de la lame dirigé et contrôlé par l'action des doigts et celle du poignet, les mouvements du bras étant strictement limités.
Lastly, I believe [they take advantage of] a method which was drawn from Italian technique, has removed its frills and complexities, while substituting a fundamental Hungarian principle: the play of the blade directed and controlled by the actions of fingers and wrist, the motions of the arm being strictly limited.


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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Chris Holzman » 18 Apr 2012 02:25

John H wrote:I know its 'normal' But I love the shot of him flexing and his right arm is noticable bigger...



That's why my master always said it was important to switch hands now and then in our teenage years... :twisted: :shock:
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Chris Holzman » 18 Apr 2012 02:38

Mink wrote:
admin wrote:Although perhaps it is from France? France seems likely, as the foil and epee and all modern fencing's terminology is French. The FIE is French. Camille Prevost basically created modern fencing. The Italians had their distinctive own form of foil and did not like the epee generally. Italian duelling sabre method seems very different to early sport sabre method to me - where did the latter come from? I'd say France.

I don't think it's French originally.
This page (in French) gives a brief history of the style that lead to the sport. Apparently, to sum things up, the style came from Hungarian school integrating elements of Italian sciabola from Radaelli. French sabreurs, according to the author, used the Italian style before the Hungarian school became dominant. That article was written in 1965 by maître Raoul Cléry.

I don't know at all how the original Hungarian method (before mixing in Italian elements) looked, or what kind of training weapon they used. But maybe that accounts for the difference between the "pure" Italian method and the sport style that appeared before WWI.

The article linked above offers this quote (the author speaks about the advantages of the hungarian sport style):
Enfin, et en dernier lieu, je crois, une méthode qui s'est inspirée d'abord de la technique italienne, l’a dépouillée de ses fioritures, de ses complexités, tout en lui substituant un principe fondamental hongrois le jeu de la lame dirigé et contrôlé par l'action des doigts et celle du poignet, les mouvements du bras étant strictement limités.
Lastly, I believe [they take advantage of] a method which was drawn from Italian technique, has removed its frills and complexities, while substituting a fundamental Hungarian principle: the play of the blade directed and controlled by the actions of fingers and wrist, the motions of the arm being strictly limited.


Regards,



I need to do a bit more digging, and try to re-unearth an books.google document.. There is, as I recall, a 1905-ish? FIE congress meeting report, wherein Barbasetti spoke, and a lot of it was about methods to popularize sabre. I think there was some oblique reference to the sporting blade in there somewhere as well.

I have also seen, I think in a facebook group, recently, an equipment catalog page that had a 'Clery' model sabre, with a very narrow blade, modern style sabre grip and pommel, and that was from 1910.

I think the general gist of it is that at some point, people around 1900 to 1910-ish took a good look at the Italian fencing sabre of the late 19th century and thought 'Damn...it really hurts to get hit with one of these things, and it is a dueling sabre, after all, in addition to being a fencing sabre, and it was the downsized military practice blade.............so....what would happen if we downsized it a bit to have a practice version of this blade, maybe it won't leave quite so many deep tissue bruises.' Perhaps, with enough wine in one's system, it sounded like a good idea at the time?
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby Chris Holzman » 18 Apr 2012 02:45

Thearos wrote:The interest of this clip, linked to many times on this site

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/flash ... re+fencing

and even on this thread, I think, is that it shows fencing styles on both sides of the Great Divide (military or military-descended to sport sabre), by people who lived the change and were aware of it. NB they think that the new stuff (which is obviously, for them, better), is Italian ?


It's sort of misleading in a way, since the method of the older system is just the older Italian method or a derivateive of it. Bertrand certainly was aware of that, holding a diploma from the Accademia Nazionale in Naples, according to his book "Cut and Thrust". The old sabres in the clip are Italian (or derivatives) as well. One is a Masiello guard, and the other is a Pecoraro guard.

Bertrand's book is nothing but VERY sport tuned Radaellian sabre, in regard to the guard position, parries, and so on, but with the teeth largely removed from the cuts.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 18 Apr 2012 09:42

A preliminary sketch on how the modern Olympic sabre was created

1887:
Maestro Masiello, in his 1887 "La Scherma Italiana" gave measurements for a duelling / practice sabre which are quite close to a modern Olympic sabre. (1)

1899:
Luigi Barbasetti in his book Sabelfechten gave PoB as around 5cm from the bell guard. (2)

1902:
Bela Nagy formulated modern Hungarian fencing rules.

Gustav Arlow stated in his book that according to the rules of Hungarian Athletics Association only fencing sabres with the following parameters can be used during competitions:
- the bell guard should not be wider as 11cm (a),
- no other protection parts should be used on the grip (b),
- the width of the blade should not less than 11mm or more than 17mm (c),
- the thickness of the blade have to be at least 4mm at the shoulder (d),
- the length of the blade should not be more that 88cm, and the total length of the sabre
more than 105cm (including the grip) (e),
- the total weight of the sabre should be at least 450g (f),
- the tip should be at least 6mm wide (g).

Arlow as Barbasetti's follower gave PoB as approximately 5cm. He also stated that sabres with a blade less than 13mm of width were used quite often during exercises, also indicated the usual length of blades: 82-88cm and their width: 10-17mm (measured at the middle).

1914:
FIE was officially approved the above, already de facto standard. (3)

1944:
In his book Laszlo Geretser wrote that some authors (Barbasetti, Arlow) had suggested PoB 5cm, other - unnamed - authors PoB at the beginning of the grip. He suggested a PoB between these two figures, at the distance of two fingers from the bell guard (presumably 2.5cm).

(1)
A quote from Chris Holzman:
"Whole sabre: 610g and 88cm long
Blade: 220g
Guard: 270g
Grip: 35g and 13cm long
Cappucio/Backstrap: 60g and 14cm long
Ferrule at front of grip: 15g
Nut/Pommel: 10g"

(2)
"Im Allgemeinen hat ein derartiger Säbel seinen Schwerpunkt ungefähr 5 Centimeter vom Korb entfernt liegen."

(3)
FIE rules for competitions
2010 Edition (updated January 2011)

Introduction, Historical note
i4:
"1. The FIE Sabre Rules include the essential portions of the rules which were adopted at the Olympic Games in London in 1908 and in Stockholm in 1912.

2. They also conform to the basic principles of the Ostend rules and of the Hungarian rules and were adopted on 12 June 1914 by the Committee for Sabre of the FIE assembled in Paris under the chairmanship of Dr Bela Nagy, President of the Hungarian Fencing Federation, who edited the proposed rules."
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby admin » 18 Apr 2012 10:10

Fantastic info guys! This may now be the most complete picture of the development of early sport sabre available online in one place!
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Re: HEMA vs Modern Fencing.

Postby bigdummy » 18 Apr 2012 14:58

It's nice to see all the silly debating actually lead to some real research. Kudos!

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 19 Apr 2012 07:29

Additional snippets of the background information:

The Fourth Olympiad, London, 1908
Official report (1)
Drawn up by Theodore Andrea Cook

p443
"VI. Special rules (sabre)
53. (a) The total weight of the sabre must be between 470 and 780gr. The effective length of the blade must be as near as possible 880mm. The blade should be either straight, or, if slightly curved, the chord of its arc must not be longer than 40mm. The colichemarde formation is not allowed...
(b) The shell or guard must have no opening in which the point of an adversary's sword can be entangled"

p454
"Measurements of Weapons
June 15, 1908. For the Committee.
Alfred Hutton.
Theodore A. Cook.
New sabres from Paris have hilts too large. The shell should measure as shown in the diagramm:..."

p???
"The maximum dimensions of the shell must be: at the back, towards the edge of the blade, 150mm; and toward the flat of the blade (perpendicular to the edge), 140mm."

(1)
I have used this version:
http://www.la84foundation.org/6oic/Offi ... 8/1908.pdf
another link:
http://olympic-museum.de/o-reports/report1908.htm
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