Fencing – Holding the Foil and Knowing the Stance

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 30,145
    Fencing instructor George Schleh shows how to correctly stand and hold your sword.

    George Slay: Good evening, I am George Slay Ill be presenting tonights lesson. I am an instructor with Recreational Fencing of Manassas. In tonights lesson, well cover the appropriate stance, how to hold the weapon and well finish up with the correct on guard position. As you can see our two students are at the on guard lines on our fencing strip. Lets take a look over here at Don first. Before they salute and begin their match, lets make sure we know how to hold the foil correctly.

    Don could you extend your arm, lets show them the wrong way first. A lot of beginning fencing students try to grip a foil like this as if it was an axe handle. It doesnt work very well, because we have to remember that we are trying to thrust and put this tip on the opponents chest. This is more likely to deliver a slash, so the appropriate way to hold it is in the opposite, its called the oppositional fold and the weapon is actually manipulated by the thumb and the forefinger.

    So, take a look. This is a parallel with the forearm. Ivan on the other hand has a pistol grip which doesnt require as much manipulation. Its a little bit easier to get a hold off. Dons is the French grip, the traditional style. With that, lets return to our on guard line. Two fencers will place there heels at right angles to one another. This is the traditional initial position and its a great start for any other move in fencing.

    Our heels are in appropriate position. Their foils are down and what they will next do is a salute. Theyll bring their weapons up before I ask them to put there masks on and after that well go into the appropriate on guard. Gentlemen! Salute, put your masks on, make sure of safety gear, and set.

    Now, the on guard, crucial position; just as in boxing and any other type of martial art. Lets take a look at their feet and what did they just do. Heel and heel are still at right angles to one another. Each fencer has come down to a slight crouch. The front knee should be positioned almost directly over the ankle and pointed straight ahead. The rear knee as Ill demonstrate on Don here, should be pointed at a 90 degree angle to the front foot.

    Whats in this position? You can easily move backward and forward and may stay in that low center of gravity. Now, we are going to cover the advance from this position in the very next lesson.