The earliest evidence that has been found on the sport goes back to 1200 B.C.E., where a carving was found depicting a sport with protective weapons with tips, and masks. The Greek and Roman civilizations practiced swordsmanship but the emphasis regressed through the Dark Ages, due the collapse of the Roman civilization during around 476 C.E., when the barbarian invaders brought their heavy weapons to the area.
In the beginning of the Renaissance during the fourteenth century, the introduction of fast, light weapons returned. With a few rare exceptions, the sword was still known as a heavy, clumsy weapon. It was used mostly as a weapon for dealing with armor-hewing blows, and had little point work involved. The fifteenth century was the beginning of modern fencing as we know it today. Spain was known for having the first fencers in the sport, and also produced the first two manuals for the sport in 1471 and 1474 respectively. Italians starting using the rapier, and fencing greats such as Agripa, Grasi, and Vigiani emerged. In the sixteenth century, the sport had a huge surge in popularity. The queen of France had many of the masters from Italy come to introduce the sport in 1567. Her son King Charles IX, recognized the French Fencing Academy, and started to award titles to these new men. These masters were the first to define and classify different terms to fencing attack methods. The seventeenth century brought the introduction of the foil in France as a light weapon for the purpose of training. This brought new rules to the game that gave new ways to attack and defend, and also made the game safer. In 1780, the mask was introduced to the sport of fencing by La Boessiere, another safety precaution. This made the game much more popular–less fatal and much more strategic. While the game was known in the old world for quite some time, it came to America in the 1860s because of immigrants from Italy and France. The first fencing school was introduced in America in 1874. The Olympics recognized the sport of fencing at the first modern Olympic games in 1896,
The FIE or the International Fencing Federation was founded in France. The French, Italians and Hungarians dominated most fencing competitions for the first half of the century. Then a new generation focusing on speed and quickness was introduced by the Russians and Italians. The new focus on speed and the introduction of the electronic scoring machine gave the game an even more strategic element.
The first modern Olympic games featured foil and sabre fencing for men only. Epee fencing was introduced in 1900. Single stick was featured in the 1904 games. Epee was electrified in the 1936 games, foil in 1956, and sabre in 1988. Early Olympic games featured events for Masters, and until recently fencing was the only Olympic sport that has included professionals. Disruptions in prevailing styles have accompanied the introduction of electric judging, most recently transforming sabre fencing. Foil fencing experienced similar upheavals for a decade or two following the introduction of electric judging, which was further complicated by the new, aggressive, athletic style coming out of eastern Europe at the time.
Women’s foil was first contested in the 1924 Olympic games, and Women’s epee was only contested for the first time in 1996, although it has been part of the World Championships since 1989. Women’s sabre made its first appearance in the 1998 World Championships as a demonstration sport. More recently, women’s sabre is slated to make its first appearance as an Olympic medal sport in the 2004 Athens Games.
This is an exhilarating and colorful sport that carries a long history and appeals to children’s imagination. Read about all the benefits below.
Physical benefits of fencing:
Mental benefits of fencing:
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