Fencing may appear to be a sport stuck in time, but the truth is that it has changed. The move from “dry” to electrically scored fencing was a huge change, for example. Prior to electric fencing the directors had to see each touch before any point could be awarded. Now, with electric scoring directors only need to see the red, green or white light to assist their decision. The slightest touch can be scored now. A century ago many touches went unnoticed by directors.
So it is with the issue of fencing distance. Traditionally, there were only three major distances to consider: extension distance, lunge distance and advance lunge distance. But, now, with the speed and athleticism of advanced fencers, this issue is increasingly complex. I would argue that the “piste” or strip is shorter than it was a century ago. Of course, the length of the strip is the same, but advanced, modern fencers travel that same length in record time. I’m no fencing historian, but I have every reason to believe that the long and complex marches we see at Olympic levels were unknown to the foilist of the 1920’s. In history, I have come to think, emphasis was placed on bladework. Now, distance and footwork seem to rule the day.
I thought about this issue when I was reading Maestro Green’s essay on distance that I link below. Please, do read this short article and decide if you agree with me.
Maestro Green’s article is here:
Mark Brandyberry, Foilist at River City Fencing