A Potted History of the Sport

3 different swords

Left to right: A 1960’s Italian foil, a 1790 English small sword, and a modern French foil.

1670

it appears that Philibert de la Touche (a very appropriate name for a fencer!) first mentions the use of foils at the court of Louis XIV in his “Les Vrays Principes de l’Espée Seule”.

  • They were notable for their elaborate crown-shaped guards.
  • Traditionally it is considered that they were introduced as a safe alternative for learning swordplay. However, practice smallswords and rapiers were being made for that purpose. Some modern opinions suggest that it is more likely that foil was developed purely as a game, right from the start, to entertain as well as show swordplay skills.

1696

Monsieur Labat confirms these rules in his “L’Art En Fait d’Armes”.

  • Most of these would be instantly recognisable to the modern fencer.
  • The target area then being defined as between collar and belt (For those pulling their belts right up, they had to be a full foot below the chin!)

1707

Sir William Hope describes the rules in his “A New, Short, and Easy Method of Fencing”.

  • Hits to arms and legs were allowable, but only as preparations, not final counting hits.
  • The tips of the foils were dipped in vermillion to clearly show where the hits landed.
  • Bouts were limited to 5 or 6 hits.

1750′s

The face mask is re-invented by a Mon. La Boessiere (the ancient Egyptians were using something similar!), but not readily accepted.

1764

Mon. Domenico Angelo writes his famous “L’Ecole d’Escrime”.

  • best known for its illustrations:
Illustration of Mon. Domenico Angelo

1818

Mon. Boessiere’s son writes his “Traité de l’Art des Armes”.

  • Foil was still about a display of skill, La Boessiere advocated that fencers did not advance or retire at all during their bouts. Indeed they were expected to finnish exactly where they started!

1836

Le Capitaine de Bast introduces the “Grand Salute” in his “Manuel d’Escrime”.

  • the mask is now in common usage.
  • foil matches were proceeded by a display of skills called the “tirer au mur” followed by the salute.

1840

Mon. Robert Houdin demonstrates an electric scoring apparatus for fencers.

1880

First annual competitions at foil and sabre are held at the Royal Military Tournament.

  • familiar white canvas jackets appear.
  • foil points covered with a black, marking substance.

1885

Mon. M. Jongen demonstrates an electric scoring apparatus in the “Liége Journal”.

  • Good for trivial pursuit games as a candidate for a famous Belgian.

1891

H.G. Willink illustrates H.A.Colmore Dunn’s “Fencing; the All-England Series”.

  • Here showing supination and pronation.
showing supination and pronation

1896

Mr. Muirhead Little demonstrates an electric scoring apparatus at Bertrand’s fencing rooms, London.

  • Used a modern style metal lamé jacket.
  • poo-pooed by the French it never took off.

1899

Britain: Amateur Gymnastic & Fencing Association draws up first civilian competition rules.

1901

Britain: Amateur Fencing Association Formed.

1902

The Army and Navy catalogue, sports section.

  • Fencing equipement.
fencing equipement

1905

The AFA changes its rules from a limit of hits (usually 3) to a limit of time (5 minutes) so as to exclude less skilled players winning on “lucky” hits.

  • Period masks.
period fencing masks

1908

the French Ministry of War extended the foil target area to include the groin and upper sword arm.

1912

The Olympic Committee revert to the old target.

  • the French withdraw from the Olympics in protest!

1913

The Fédération International d’Escrime is formed to settle the row.

1934

Cav. Léon Bertrand publishes his “The Fencer’s Companion”.

  • here illustrating the position of quarte for foil.
period fencing masks

1935

World Championships held in Lausanne.

  • the first successful demonstration of electric jackets.
  • a period French foil grip.
period french foil grip

1954

The FIE give an approval of the electric scoring system.

  • the 1955 World Championships being the first full trial.

1957

The FIE formally approve of the electric scoring system.

  • (at last).

1959

saxon logoSaxon Fencing Club is first established in Ealing: Chris Clark actually formed the club after himself and others were in a fencing evening class held at Ealing Technical College. But the class was having to close. So, being very keen to continue fencing but having no venue, Chris’ parents offered a room in their house in Ealing and that is where Saxon Fencing Club Started.

Early 1980’s

Wilkinson Swords carry out an appraisal of a radio controlled systems.

  • thwarted by the possibility of interference (aka cheating!!).

1997

Britain: Amateur Fencing Association changes its name to British Fencing Association.

1999

The race is on to make a viable clear mask, so TV viewers can see the whites of our eyes. Hopefully increasing the drama, and thus enticing bigger audiences.

  • viewers=ratings, ratings=sponsorship.

Saxon Notice Board

Club closed on Thursday 21st September

The school needs the sports hall on Thursday 21st September so there will be NO fencing on that day – make the most of a night off!

September 13th, 2017

Essex Open results

Seven men’s foilists made the trip to Colchester for another early season tournament with two making the last 16.  See the full results here.

September 11th, 2017

Fencers Club London Open results

Eleven Saxons travelled to the venue that used to be used for the Slough Open for the inaugural FCL Open.  The best result was Seville winning bronze – click here for all the results.

September 3rd, 2017

Leon Paul Summer Opens results

A number of Saxons went to North London for some early season tournament fencing.  Click here to see the results.

August 20th, 2017

Luton open results

Joe and Alex S both competed in the Luton Open, click here to see how they got on

June 5th, 2017

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