[Ansteorra-rapier] One way to never face an épée or foil again

Andrew Heinrich andrew.heinrich at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 06:22:23 PDT 2012


I have to fundamentally disagree that foils and epees are excellent
training weapons, unless you actually use them as a rapier is supposed to
be used while training students. As was pointed out earlier by puck, if we
don't do that we run the risk of giving students habits that will have to
be *untrained* in fencers when they graduate to a proper rapier.

Since moving here, I've found that one of the key things I've needed to
help folks with is trying to use a rapier like a rapier instead of like a
heavy epee. They aren't the same tool, they are not used the same, and if
you try to force it you'll do yourself and your students a disservice.
Retraining people to use the sword they are holding instead of the sword
everyone used to use is hands down the most common lesson I've given to
people interested in learning from me.

Now, if you are making sure to teach people solid parries (which will seem
like over-committing in the context of the epee and foil) and form that
gives precedence to the point (which will seem like your point is way
offline in the context of epee and foil), you're probably not hurting the
students you teach too much. But, if you are showing them first how to use
an epee or foil properly, you're only going to give them habits that they
will then need to unlearn when they pick up a proper sword. This will
inevitably drive them into limited fencing choices, such as bull rushing
and range sniping, as their options in terms of engaging their opponent's
weapon will be severely limited.

Teaching people rapier-as-epee leads to bad fencing unless careful
attention is paid to pretending the epee is a rapier the whole time. Which
of course leads me to conclude that you can probably achieve much better
results with a heavy rapier that's appropriately sized for the student in
question. While I agree that longer lessons can be achieved with a lighter
tool, I do not believe many teachers are making the transition of teaching
rapier techniques with lighter blades. Nor do I necessarily think longer
lessons are more useful than shorter, more concise lessons. I'll leave that
answer to more experienced teachers like Puck.  I continue to see folks
come out of their training with the same habits - incomplete line closes,
attacks that do not simultaneously defend the body, etc. This tells me we
are training people to use one weapon, and then are forcing them to adapt
to a new, radically different one.

- Mateo

it is good to know, it is better to do, it is best to be.
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