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Fencing Question: Foil, Epee, Saber?

The NazariteThe Nazarite Registered User regular
edited November 2006 in Help / Advice Forum
Alright, so I’m about to graduate from the novice foil class at my college’s fencing club. So, now I will soon be able to branch out into saber or epee, or continue with advanced foil. I’ve already talked to coaches about the different weapons, but I thought I’d like to get some more points of view.

I guess what I’m asking is, from your guys’ personal experience, what does each weapon has to offer, what skills or attributes does it emphasizes or compliments, and how hard is it to learn? Basically, what should I take into consideration before I take one path or the other?

Thanks.

The Nazarite on

Posts

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2006
    If you have really (really) good reach, epee will probably be best for you. It's not that hard to adapt to it if you already know foil, but you have to be careful not to get hurt or hurt them, since there's no right of way and things can get a little crazy.

    Doc on
  • AndrewAndrew Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Hey it's great to see more fencers on PA. There are a few of us out here.

    I'm sure your coaches have told you this before but here is my personal take on things:

    Foil is the most strategic. There are more "moves" in foil and it requires the most thought during a bout. Any body type can do foil but good endurance seems to be important because foil matches can go the full 3 or 9 minutes.

    Epee requires the most precision and tip control. Being able to land attacks and 'picks' (defensive counterattacks) on their hands, knees, and feet are important. Moreso than the other weapons, epee fencers tend to be of a particular body type: Tall and lanky. Since there is no right of way, there aren't ever any questionable calls by the ref (and believe me, this can be a HUGE problem!). Epee tends to be the most defensive weapon, with many fencers taking their time and looking for openings to strike (but with the new timings of two years ago, foil might be more defensive than epee)

    Sabre requires the most athleticism. It makes for fast fencing and fast footwork. You don't really think a whole lot during a bout; the small time in between touches is where you make all your plans. A good referee is very important in sabre bouts. To me it seems like there are more tough calls in sabre than there are in foil. Sabre is by far the most agressive weapon.

    Of course all the weapons require strategy, skill, and athleticism. These are just my observations. The most important thing to consider is which weapon is the most fun for you. If you're going to be spending a lot of time doing this then you'd better enjoy it!

    I'm on the UC Irvine sabre team. I noticed your location is SF. Sometime in late January the All-Cals are going to be help at UC Berkeley and we'll be going up there. It's a pretty casual event so depending on how long you've been fencing, you might be able to be on your university's B team and get some invaluable tournament expereience. I highly reccomend this. Ask your coach if he thinks you're ready.

    Also, Wikipedia's fencing article is a good read and explains the technical and rule differences between the weapons very well.

    Andrew on
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  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    http://www.fencing.net/forums/

    Search for this question and you will get a ton of responses from fencers who know what they're talking about.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    One thing to think about is, at least in my area, saber has by far the least number of adherents. I believe I remember hearing this is becaue it was the last weapon to get an electric version, and the delay caused a drop in its popularity it still hasn't fully recovered from.

    Neaden on
  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    I did epee for a couple years - it sort of prejudiced me against the other blades. Foil is just for people who whip the points at each other (fly-fishers), and in saber you just charge and try to swing first. I like epee b/c you can hit them anywhere on the body (protect your wrist!) and I just like the heavier blade. You can also vary your style (i dont' know how much variance you can do with foil and saber, probably some) depending on your grip - I've gotten the jump on people by switching from a controlled, close grip (on a french handle) to holding it near the pommel for more reach, or vice versa.

    KalTorak on
  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Neaden wrote:
    One thing to think about is, at least in my area, saber has by far the least number of adherents. I believe I remember hearing this is becaue it was the last weapon to get an electric version, and the delay caused a drop in its popularity it still hasn't fully recovered from.
    However, the USA is #1 in the world in women's saber. Men's saber is pretty close to the top. This shows where our coaching expertise lies. Foil and epee and dominated by Europe and Asia.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    I've only done epee as foil in australia is a bit weak and sabre is just a joke.

    Foil is excellent because the right of way teaches you to attack when you have an opening, whereas Epee you attack when you feel like it and you could also get hit at the same time, so in that sense Foil is more realistic because you want to stay "alive" whereas Epee you'll hapily take yourself out to win the point.

    Epee is satisfying in the sense that there is some insane skill in terms of point control so you can hit anywhere. This means you logically hit the closest part to you, the hand. It's insanely satisfying to hit someone right behind their gaurd.

    Ask your coach if you can try out epee and sabre for a bit. Or hell do two discplines, it should be ok to expand your knowledge.

    Blake T on
  • AndrewAndrew Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Neaden wrote:
    One thing to think about is, at least in my area, saber has by far the least number of adherents. I believe I remember hearing this is becaue it was the last weapon to get an electric version, and the delay caused a drop in its popularity it still hasn't fully recovered from.

    Polls on fencing.net's forums say that sabre is the least popular and foil is the most popular, but it really depends on the club. UCI's fencing club has by far more sabre fencers than others.

    To the OP: If your club is lacking in one or two weapons, take that into consideration because it could get boring to practice with only a few people. It doesn't matter how popular a weapon is nationally, just worry about your club.

    Andrew on
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  • IloroKamouIloroKamou Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    It really depends on your own personal style, because there is a huge difference in the 3 weapons. Personally, I would tell you to go foil, but I'm a little biased, as that's all I fence...I just find that there is a certain grace and art and fluidity to foil fencing that is sorely lacking in the other two weapons.. Epee is spastic and boring and saber is 2 people ridiculously charging at each other.

    As for the "fly-fishing" comment about foil, with the new times on the boxes there is very little flicking in foil fencing anymore, however there is more emphasis on counter-time and counterattacking. I do agree with the above that foil is a more strategic weapon than epee and sabre, which is why I love it...it is both a physical and mental game.

    By the way, Andrew, might be seeing ya at All Cal's. I'm on Cal Poly's team.

    IloroKamou on
    "There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts."
  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    You can easily make a great case for any weapon. Just go to a club and talk to the coach, and consider the strength of that particular weapon at the club. Your mental game should decide which weapon you fence, not the ability of your body.

    It's not hard to switch between weapons, but at least give foil a shot before you try the other two. I don't recommend practicing with different weapons at the same time though.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • The NazariteThe Nazarite Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Thanks for all your guys' advice--I appreciate it. I think next quarter I'm going to be in a class with other novices that spends 4 weeks on saber then 4 on epee, so I'll find out for sure then.

    BTW IloroKamou, I'm on the Cal Poly team also.

    The Nazarite on
  • MutePrezMutePrez Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    I'll be seeing y'all because I intend on joining the UC Berkeley team in January. We should have some sort of meeting spot for PA'ers

    I fence foil by the way, and I absolutely love it. I've been meaning to try epee but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    MutePrez on
  • OutsomniaOutsomnia Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Personally I like epee. I like the blade being heavier than a foil, which feels kinda flimsy to me. I also don't like having to pay attention to right of way, but that's just me. However, foil was the first thing I learned, and I've been told that I fence epee like a foilist (not so much anymore, but I used to). I've never tried sabre, so I can't comment on it. Then again, I've only been fencing for a few months, so take that into consideration.

    Outsomnia on
  • a penguina penguin Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Pointy weapons are for the weak. Real men fence Sabre. :D

    I fenced Sabre all through college, even though I was told I should be a foilest.

    /shrug, I was fast, and that got the job done.

    Sloppy Sabre is an ugly, potentially painful mess. Correct Sabre is a thing to behold. It has all the pain of "Right of Way" that Foil does, and more target area to boot. And it is very, very fast. There is more to it than, "Attack First!!!LOLZ!!!", but being fast never hurts. Parrying is difficult to get down, as that blade goes everywhere.

    Now, Sabre is very, very different from Foil and Epee. You will destroy your point control if you try to master Sabre and something else. So be mindful of that.

    a penguin on
    This space eventually to be filled with excitement
  • Mongrel IdiotMongrel Idiot Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Make sure that, whatever you choose, your club has a good coach for it and plenty of people to fence against. If it's you and another dude trying to figure stuff out, well, you're in for a rough road.

    Mongrel Idiot on
  • MutePrezMutePrez Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Make sure that, whatever you choose, your club has a good coach for it and plenty of people to fence against. If it's you and another dude trying to figure stuff out, well, you're in for a rough road.

    Truth. My first two years of fencing were taught by a coach who was a good fencer, but not a very good teacher. I got a bunch of bad habits, a few of which I'm still trying to get rid of. My current coach is awesome.

    Can you sit in on the classes to see the differences between how each is taught?

    MutePrez on
  • IloroKamouIloroKamou Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Thanks for all your guys' advice--I appreciate it. I think next quarter I'm going to be in a class with other novices that spends 4 weeks on saber then 4 on epee, so I'll find out for sure then.

    BTW IloroKamou, I'm on the Cal Poly team also.

    In that case, if you choose any weapon other than foil expect me to mock you ceaselessly for it for the entirety of your tenure at Cal Poly. And welcome to CPF.

    IloroKamou on
    "There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts."
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