Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 27 Apr 2012 07:52

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 27 Apr 2012 07:58

These pictures are from Vince Fencing Equipment, Inc.'s 1938 catalogue.

You can read more about it at Christoph Amberger's site:
http://fencingclassics.wordpress.com/20 ... ts-sabers/
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Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 27 Apr 2012 21:21

Ulrich von L...n wrote:These pictures are from Vince Fencing Equipment, Inc.'s 1938 catalogue.

You can read more about it at Christoph Amberger's site:
http://fencingclassics.wordpress.com/20 ... ts-sabers/



I think it's worth noting for anyone who doesn't want to click through, that the articles sabres were mounted with 5mm or 6mm wide blades - a very distinct difference to even the 12mm blade that Pecoraro and Pessina recommended, let alone the 20mm that Parise recommends - and indeed are smaller than the S2000 blades today.
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Gordon L » 28 Apr 2012 04:14

Here is the Material section of the FIE 2010 rules:

The blade (see Figure 13)
m.23. 1. The blade, which must be of steel, is approximately rectangular in section. The
maximum length of the blade is 88 cm. The minimum width of the blade, which
must be at the button, is 4 mm; its thickness, also immediately below the button,
must be at least 1.2 mm.
2. The end of the blade must be folded over onto itself or be fashioned in one piece to
form a button which, viewed end on, must have a square or rectangular section of
4 mm minimum and 6 mm maximum. The maximum dimension must be not more
than 3 mm from the end of the blade.
3. The end of the blade may also be formed by a solid button which must have the
same section as the button which is folded over (Figure 12).
4. If the blade has a curve, it must be a distinct curve which must be continuous, and
the deflection must be less than 4 cm. Blades with sharply bent extremities or
which curve in the direction of the cutting edge are forbidden.
The curve of the blade must be measured as follows:
i) the blade is placed on a flat surface so that the curve is uppermost;
ii) the maximum distance between the flat surface and the blade is measured: this
distance is deemed to be the curve of the blade (cf Fig 13).
5. The sabre blade must have a flexibility equivalent to a bend of minimum 4 cm and
maximum 7 cm measured in the following way.
a) The blade is fixed horizontally at a point 70 cm from the tip of the blade.
b) A 200 g weight (tolerance +/- 1 g) is hung 1 cm from the tip.
c) The curve is measured at the tip of the blade between the weighted and
unweighted positions (see Figures 12 and 13).


Book 3. Material Rules 23 Rules for Competitions, 2010
Updated December 2011 Copyright British Fencing

Figure 12. Sabre dimensions and flexibility
This diagram is for guidance purposes only. In case of any doubt the wording of the appropriate text takes precedence

(Diagram shows that the plane of flexibility must be be measured using a sideways weighting of the blade, i.e. the flex must travel in the direction of the flat of the blade)
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Gordon L » 28 Apr 2012 04:45

Taken from

"Amateur Fencing Association
Patron: Her Majesty the Queen

Rules for competitions 1981 Edition

Translated and edited for the AFA by Steve Higginson, Peter Jacobs and James Noel"

...

"Part Four: Sabre
Chapter III - Sabre Equipment
A Weapons

General specification for sabres

[Rule 404]
(a) Length
The total maximum length of the sabre shall be 105cm

[Rule 405]
(b) Weight.
The total maximum weight of the sabre ready for use shall be less than 500 grammes.

[Rule 406]
(c) The blade

The blade, which must be of steel, is approximately rectangular in section.

The maximum length of the blade is 88cm. The minimum width of the blade, which must be at the button, must be 4mm; its thickness, also immediately below the button, must be at least 1.2mm The end of the blade must be folded over onto itself to form a button which, viewed end on, must have a square or rectangular section of 4mm. minimum and 6mm. maximum. The maximum dimension must not be more than 3mm from the end of the blade. Blades which are too rigid or too whippy are forbidden. Similarly sabres having shapes out of the ordinary are forbidden. If the blade has a curve, it must be a distinct curve which must be continuous, the deflection must be less than 4cm. Blades with sharply bent extremities or which curve in the direction of the cutting edge are forbidden. The grinding down of the blade or sharpening its rounded extremity is strictly forbidden (Cf.22)
The sabre blade must have a flexibility equivalent to a bend of minimum 7cm and maximum 12 cm, measured in the following way:
1. The blade is fixed horizontally at a point 70cm from the tip of the blade.
2. A 200 gramme weight is hung 1 cm. from the tip.
3. The curve is measured at the tip of the blade between the weighted and unweighted positions."


nb in the 1981 edition, there is no diagram for sabre, despite there being equivalent diagrams in the 1981 edition for the procedure for testing the flexibility of epée [Rule 308] and foil [Rule 207].
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Gordon L » 28 Apr 2012 05:53

The 1981 sabre rules predate the robotic judging of the materiality of hits by electrical sensing equipment by approx. 7 years, just as electrification then necessitates the increases in the stiffness of the blade, which happen about about 12 years after.

The 2010 rules are subsequent to the changes of 2000, and make no change to the stiffness of the "S2000" blades.

The increase in stiffness of the feeble is a change from an allowed bend between 7cm to 12cm, to an allowed bend of 4cm to 7cm, as measured by using a 200g weight, hung 70cm from the tip, i.e. the bendiness is almost exactly halved.

In the 1981 Rules, there is no explicit specification of the fact that you have to test the bend in the plane of the flat, however, the rules do go on to clarify that hits are made only with the forward cutting edge, the first third of the back edge, or the point, and that some even some contacts between the cutting edge of the moving blade and the valid target still do not count (1).

By 2010, they have diagrams showing that you test the bend in a particular plane of the blade, and the rules make reference to the blade's "plane of flexibility" in the new section on how to hold an orthopaedic-grip sabre.

"If the handle has no special device or attachment or special shape (e.g. orthopaedic), a fencer may hold it in any way he wishes and he may also alter the position of his hand on the handle during a bout." [t16.2] whereas "When the handle has a special device or attachment or has a special shape (e.g. orthopaedic) it must be held in such a way that the upper surface of the thumb is ... perpendicular to the plane of flexibility of the blade at sabre. [t16.3]" (My emphasis)

While it's undeniable that the sabre blades have some whippiness - even the 1981 rules, designed for a panel of five humans to use their judgement and discrimination to determine successful hits, say that "[b]lades which are too too rigid or too whippy are forbidden", and there is no allowable whippiness in the plane of the cut.

================
(1) Those rules remain true in the 2010 edition - presumably the referee is supposed to annul hits registered by the apparatus which arrive having been made with the flat. I've never seen that done since electrification, although it was commonplace in my experience in the pre-electric days.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Apr 2012 18:06

Gordon L wrote: A book written by T.A. Cook ... International sport: a short history of the Olympic movement from 1896 to the present day, containing the account of a visit to Athens in 1906, and of the Olympic games of 1908 in London, together with the code of rules for twenty different forms of sport, and numerous illustrations.
Does anyone have a digicopy, or a digitisable copy?

Yes.

http://dds.crl.edu/loadStream.asp?iid=12510&f=1
http://dds.crl.edu/loadStream.asp?iid=12510&f=2
http://dds.crl.edu/loadStream.asp?iid=12510&f=3
http://dds.crl.edu/loadStream.asp?iid=12510&f=4 (contains sabre rules, 1908 version)
http://dds.crl.edu/loadStream.asp?iid=12510&f=5 (continuation of rules)

Btw, Egerton Castle was the captain of the British épée and saber teams at the 1908 Olympics.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Apr 2012 18:28

Chris Holzman wrote: I think it's worth noting for anyone who doesn't want to click through, that the articles sabres were mounted with 5mm or 6mm wide blades - a very distinct difference to even the 12mm blade that Pecoraro and Pessina recommended, let alone the 20mm that Parise recommends - and indeed are smaller than the S2000 blades today.

Yes. The width of blades & their total weight (12-14oz, 340-397g). By 1938 the process of sportification of sabres was completed, almost two decades. The new rules were adopted in 1914, and it seems that for the first time they were used in 1920, during the Olympic Games in Antwerpen. It would be interesting to check the official report of the Games.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Apr 2012 18:54

Some really small changes of the rules were made for 1912 Games.
The weight interval became from 470g to 770g (earlier 780g), they increased the length of the blade (up to 900mm, earlier 880mm).

Some interesting trivia from the 1912 rules:
"The weapon (..., sabre) may be attached to the hand, on the condition that the system employed presents no obstacle to an opponent's fencing."
"The extremity of the thumb when fully extended must not be more than from 2 to 3cm from the guard and the pommel must not be held in the hollow of the hand".

This last rule meant that a sabre couldn't been held as taught in the classical Hungarian sabre fencing, prior the arrival of Italian sabre fencing into Hungary.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 29 Apr 2012 18:07

British Army Fencing (1930):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLvaA7iRhu4

Total: 1:48
Silent. British Army Sabre Drills & Sword Dance
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Chris Holzman » 02 May 2012 01:29

In Eleanor Baldwin Cass' 1930 publication, "The Book of Fencing", she states
"Extracts from the rules of the International Fencing Federation as taken from "Cut and Thrust" by Mr. Leon Bertrand.

Dimension of Weapon (Sabre)
96. Maximum length of.
Weapon 43 3/10" (or 8/10ths, can't read it well)
Hilt 8 6/10"
Blade from hilt to tip 35 1/2"
Guard through blade 5 9/10"
Minimum width of blade 3/16th"
Weight not less than 1lb nor more than 1lb 8 oz.
If the blade is curved the chord of the arc must not exceed 1 1/2".
Binding wire on the hilt, or any similar practice, in order to bring a sabre up to weight, is not allowed.

Also - reference materiality:
11. Hit - A hit is a cut or thrust with the point or cutting edge, delivered cleanly on or off the target with force sufficient to have inflicted a wound on a body unprotected by clothing.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 02 May 2012 08:48

Leon Bertrand's book Cut and Thrust was published in 1927, so the sabre data could be traced to the official reports of 1920 and 1924 Games (and some FIE documents between 1914 and 1927).

The length of the blade is almost the same as during the Stockholm's Games (1912): 901.7mm. Probably absolutely irrelevant due to the fact that 3mm tolerance was allowed.

The weight range is between 454g and 680g, so they decided to decrease the upper limit (770g in 1912).

It seems that gradually we will establish the whole process of transition.
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 02 May 2012 08:50

Chris Holzman wrote: 11. Hit - A hit is a cut or thrust with the point or cutting edge, delivered cleanly on or off the target with force sufficient to have inflicted a wound on a body unprotected by clothing.

This is a tricky one.
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Re:

Postby Gordon L » 02 May 2012 12:09

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Leon Bertrand's book Cut and Thrust was published in 1927, so the sabre data could be traced to the official reports of 1920 and 1924 Games (and some FIE documents between 1914 and 1927).

The length of the blade is almost the same as during the Stockholm's Games (1912): 901.7mm. Probably absolutely irrelevant due to the fact that 3mm tolerance was allowed.

The weight range is between 454g and 680g, so they decided to decrease the upper limit (770g in 1912).

It seems that gradually we will establish the whole process of transition.


901.7mm is the standard metric conversion from 35.5".

Hutton wrote the first ruleset, and he would certainly have use imperial measurements.

I'm guessing as the FIE took over, the old dimensions were carried over, but converted to metric units.
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Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Chris Holzman » 02 May 2012 15:05

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Chris Holzman wrote: 11. Hit - A hit is a cut or thrust with the point or cutting edge, delivered cleanly on or off the target with force sufficient to have inflicted a wound on a body unprotected by clothing.

This is a tricky one.


Indeed - it is similar to what Costello said in his '32 book, where he mentioned that the sabre should be considered razor sharp, and that the actions are 'wounding'. He also goes on to talk about light hands, and so on. Granted, I think that is a little relative by today's terms - if you're cutting with a molinello from the elbow, with the front foot still in the air, and are landing the cut so that you extend the last inch or so into the target, it is going to be a zippy cut, no matter what...

Still, as I've said previously, the Bertrand and Cass material is interesting, because we've got basically a Radaellian guard of 2nd and 3rd, and parries that are a mix of Radaellian, Pecoraro-Pessina and Masiello, but with either wrist molinelli or non-chambered cuts. I don't have a copy of Bertrand, but I've gotten it through inter-library loan in the past, but as I recall he also had largely cut down the repertoire as well, really trying to teach only those high percentage actions, rather than a whole system.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 02 May 2012 17:25

Gordon L wrote:Hutton wrote the first ruleset, and he would certainly have use imperial measurements.

Till now I have been able to trace down two rulesets written by A. Hutton (one from 1889, in Cold Steel
"Rules to be observed in the assault, or in a match or contest for prizes", and another one from The Swordsman, an appendix consisting of a code of rules for assaults, competitions). Because the second book isn't available online, it is difficult to judge the completeness of that second ruleset. Hutton's first ruleset is rather sketchy, and similar to AFLA's fencing rules, adopted on November 14th 1891.

It would be interesting to see some other rulesets written by Hutton.

PS. It is rather strange that in 1909 while praising the completeness of 1908's fencing rules Sir Theodore didn't mention Hutton's contribution to the development of those rules. Was there some kind of personal animosity between them?
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 02 May 2012 17:31

Chris Holzman wrote:... what Costello said in his '32 book, where he mentioned that the sabre should be considered razor sharp, and that the actions are 'wounding'. He also goes on to talk about light hands, and so on.

A light hand and force sufficient of wounding. Well, this is a little bit contradictory to me.

Chris,
Btw, do you know something about an encounter between Costello and a kendoka in Cuba, in 1911 or 1912?
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Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 03 May 2012 00:23

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Chris Holzman wrote:... what Costello said in his '32 book, where he mentioned that the sabre should be considered razor sharp, and that the actions are 'wounding'. He also goes on to talk about light hands, and so on.

A light hand and force sufficient of wounding. Well, this is a little bit contradictory to me.

Chris,
Btw, do you know something about an encounter between Costello and a kendoka in Cuba, in 1911 or 1912?


I think the key thing to remember is that by the '30s, in much of Europe the likelihood of a sabre duel was getting pretty small, and in the US it was non-existant. Even in the event of a sabre duel somewhere in Europe, it was probably not going to be ending in the level of serious wound that we'd be talking about in the late mid-late 19th century. So a light blade, razor sharp, with a light hand, against a shirtless torso, is probably going to be capable of making an ugly looking surface cut that is going to bleed like mad and take a bunch of stitches, but hopefully not land you in prison for homicide. As I've said other places, I suspect there was a bit more of a balancing act going on. Nadi alludes to it in his account of his own duel. Not to say there weren't serious duels at times, or that people never got hurt, but I suspect on the whole those were much less common than in prior times. Still - I generally agree with you - I don't think it is any sort of example to strive for. Not that one should be intentionally brutal, or hard on training partners/opponents, but a chambered cut with a 16 to 20mm sabre, made correctly, in tempo, is going to hit like a ton of bricks even without the intention of brutalizing someone. That isn't the case with the 6mm that people were fencing with and intending to simulate a dueling sabre with. Vince says similar things in his book about nicety of play, delicate hand, and so on. I think it's also all relative to prior experience, as 'delicate' may have been a real thumping by today's standards. Ted certainly liked the idea of a light fast hand, but even so he hit like a ton of bricks with a sport sabre, while 70 some years old.

Regarding Costello, no I don't. I've only heard that Costello was one of the people to help introduce Japanese Sword Arts into NYC back in the day, I think in the form of bringing an iaido teacher in - but I'm not sure where I even heard that. My late maestro, Ted Hootman, was a student of Bob Kaplan at Ohio State University during the late forties and early fifties. Kaplan sent him to Santelli in the summers for sabre, and Ted continued to work with Santelli for some time after that, until he moved to Kansas. The foil fencing I learned from Ted was essentially dead on point with Costello's '32 book. Sadly, that's all the information I have about Costello.

Chris
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Re:

Postby Gordon L » 03 May 2012 01:24

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Chris Holzman wrote:... what Costello said in his '32 book, where he mentioned that the sabre should be considered razor sharp, and that the actions are 'wounding'. He also goes on to talk about light hands, and so on.

A light hand and force sufficient of wounding. Well, this is a little bit contradictory to me.


Not to me. It's the positioning of the cut, and then the movement of the blade along the surface being cut that makes it. It doesn't need to be dug in - with a light sabre or spadroon you're not attempting to hew off a limb. You're attempting to make, in effect, a devastating paper cut through the soft tissue.
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Re:

Postby Gordon L » 03 May 2012 01:58

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Gordon L wrote:Hutton wrote the first ruleset, and he would certainly have use imperial measurements.

Till now I have been able to trace down two rulesets written by A. Hutton (one from 1889, in Cold Steel
"Rules to be observed in the assault, or in a match or contest for prizes", and another one from The Swordsman, an appendix consisting of a code of rules for assaults, competitions). Because the second book isn't available online, it is difficult to judge the completeness of that second ruleset. Hutton's first ruleset is rather sketchy, and similar to AFLA's fencing rules, adopted on November 14th 1891.

It would be interesting to see some other rulesets written by Hutton.

PS. It is rather strange that in 1909 while praising the completeness of 1908's fencing rules Sir Theodore didn't mention Hutton's contribution to the development of those rules. Was there some kind of personal animosity between them?


I suspect it's just because Hutton's contribution is just so obvious. Don't we have ruleset contributions documented for the 1908 rules from both Cook and Hutton?

If so, perhaps Cook is simply congratulating himself as much as anything.

Perhaps he's saying "I think these rules are finally the fully-developed deal."

Either way, I don't think an absence of a comment saying "Thanks to x, for having created the previous ruleset' demonstrates anything about who did or didn't contribute to the earlier rules.

But then again, Cook had certainly been the first captain of the êpée team, and the team had had notable successes. Who was the 1908 British êpée team captain? Earlier in the thread someone said it was Egerton Castle. Castle was, of course, Hutton's long-time friend. It's not impossible that Cook felt he had been wrongfully removed from post.

Selection issues for the national team can certainly be thorny and acrimonious these days, and have been for as long as I've fenced. Perhaps they were just as thorny back then.
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