Weapons and Styles
Instruction is also available in Italian foil, saber and rapier, German longsword, and modern self-defense including knife, stick, and empty hand techniques.
The French school of fencing initially developed as an offshoot of the Italian school of rapier in the mid-seventeenth century. The French system of fencing has for the most part used shorter, lighter weapons than other schools, emphasizing sophisticated bladework, subtlety and finesse.
The French foil was initially designed as a training tool for the smallsword (see below) but was later used to teach duelling sword technique in the 19th century. It features a light, flexible blade which is quadrangular in cross section and a small guard.
Our system of French foil has a double purpose. First, the techniques of French foil are identical to those which would be used with the early 19th century form of French duelling sword. Second, the foil serves as an academic training tool with which the student acquires a fundamental understanding of skills and concepts which can be applied to all other weapons taught at the School.
Épée (French duelling sword)
The term “épée,” which simply means “sword” in French, is here used to refer specifically to the form of the French duelling sword which was developed in the later 19th century. This weapon uses a slightly heavier blade than the foil, with a triangular cross section and a large, cupped guard to protect the hand. A point d’arete (a device featuring three short metal prongs) is fastened to the point of the sword so that thrusts will stick to the fencer’s jacket, giving the weapon a greater sense of realism.
Épée technique requires calm, caution and precision. Attacks are directed to any opportune target, including the hand and weapon arm, the face, and the forward leg.
The smallsword was developed in the mid-seventeenth century in France. Unlke its ancestor, the rapier, the smallsword featured a shorter, lighter blade, often without sharp edges, and a smaller guard. The smallsword was the last form of the sword carried for self-defense as well as duelling.
Smallsword technique emphasizes precise, rapid thrusts and parries, but includes use of the non-weapon hand to control the adversary’s sword, disarms, pommel strikes and infighting techniques.
The Spanish system “la Verdadera Destreza,” “the true art and science of weapons,” was first introduced in the late 16th century, when the new understanding of science developed in the Renaissance was applied to swordsmanship. Spanish systems emphasize non-linear footwork, an upright stance, and a combination of cutting and thrusting techniques.
The rapier is a weapon that features a long, double-edged blade, a ricasso (a rectangular section of the blade which is gripped with one or two fingers), and a large and often complex guard.
Fencers using the Spanish system of rapier fence in an upright stance with the arm fully extended toward the opponent. Circular and angular steps are used to keep the fencer safe while keeping the opponent constantly threatened by the point of the sword.
The navaja is a folding clasp knife which was common in southern Spain in the 18th and 19th centuries. It features a handle with a curved tail, and a curved blade with an acute point.
The Spanish knife-fighters adapted principles and techniques from Spanish fencing to the use of the fighting knife. Spanish knife technique emphasizes quick footwork, evasive body movements, defensize use of the unarmed hand, and rapid, deceptive combinations of slashes and thrusts.
A form of the smallsword was adopted in Spain which combined features of the Spanish rapier and the French smallsword. Spanish smallswords were lighter and slightly smaller than the older rapier, but often retained double edged blades which were slightly longer and heavier than those used on the French smallsword.
The Spanish system of smallsword is based upon the Spanish system of rapier, but incorporates positions and techniques borrowed from French smallsword and, to a lesser degree, Italian rapier.