Mssrs:

Below is an essay from our own Prevote de Armes Paul Geraci.
Dr. Geraci does not claim that his "true touche" is his design.
Instead, he credits his fencing master and others.  Still, I
have not seen this method written under any other name.  We have
discussed this issue of the "true touche," but I think that you
should read from the source.

Mark Brandyberry
The True Touche

by Prevote de Armes Paul Geraci

I had fenced for many years using the German grip.  Strangely, I
had always felt
limited.  While my point was fairly accurate, I was not a “hand
touch artist”.  If one cannot hit the hand in modern epee, they
will be forever denied champion status.  It was not until taking
lessons with Yakov Danielenkov, a Russian master, that I learned
why the German grip was inhibiting my point control.  Under the
advice and supervision of my teacher I (grudgingly) switched to
the Belgian grip.  Within one month my point control had
dramatically improved.  Within two months I earned a higher
ranking.  It is here that I will explain the many varieties of
pistol grips, the correct way of handling them, and how to make
the “true touche”.

    Every touch should be concluded with a petite flick or
miniature coupe.  This is how one can get the point to stick and
not slide off the target.  It is also how a touch may score a
target that the eye cannot completely see, such as above the
bell.  However, this is not a whipping motion; it must be done
with the fingers.  Invariably some movement may creep into the
wrist, but the master will limit this.  This technique’s
application will vary depending on the type of grip.

The Belgian grip offers a prong for the middle finger.  This
acts as a fulcrum.  The thumb pushes down as the middle finger
gives a gentle squeeze.  Inevitably, this action will be
accompanied by a slight pulse from the wrist.  This action is a
tiny flick or miniature coupe and should be practiced both by
itself and at the end of the extension.  This allows the fencer
to correctly place the point to the target and it allows for the
fingers to perform the work.  It literally snaps the point down
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onto the target.  This is vital!  If the wrist, elbow, or
shoulder are used for targeting, hitting the hand will rely more
on chance than skill.  While proponents of the French grip
testify that the subtle finger play used to manipulate the
straight handle is not present in pistol grip technique, the
truth is quite contrary.  The finger work is just as, if not
more important, in handling the pistol grip varieties.
Fig. A  The Belgian grip.  Note the ridge between the middle and
trigger finger.

Notice that two grips, the German and the Russian, do not have
the prong or ridge for the middle finger.  This makes the true
touche difficult to perform.  The German does offer a groove for
the middle finger and its slim design allow for comfort.  The
elongated tang however, often interferes with infighting.  It is
often sawed off, although this does further affect the balance.
The Russian grip should be favored by those with large hands.
Often the subtle ridges and grooves are wasted on fingers that
are too wide to be accommodated.  This may also invite a
stronger sense of physical play, often in a Russian style.  That
is to say a tight guard, point elevated, and often in pronation.
The American grip is also used by fencers with unusually large
hands.  One must remember that many epee fencers exceed six and
half feet in height and may need a larger grip.

The visconti offers a ridge for the middle finger that can be
used as a fulcrum to snap the point down.  These grips come in
multiple sizes to accommodate a wide range.  The Spanish offset
offers a prong similar to the Belgian, however it does not
balance the epee blade as well as the other varieties.
Furthermore, there is some question of legality regarding this
grip as some claim it has potential to be held in more than one
way.

Exercises for the True Touche

I like to start every lesson, be it beginner or advanced, with
this drill.  These exercises are suitable for both foil and epee
and should occupy the first 3-5 minutes of the lesson.  The
student stands at en garde while the master takes position with
the blade below the student’s in sixte.  The pupil’s blade must
be slightly elevated in order to have a position to drop from.
The master moves the blade away in tempo and steps forward.  The
student gives a gentle squeeze of the fingers without extending
the arm or moving the bell and lands the touch on the plastron.
Strive to make the touch in the same spot every time.  This
should be repeated several times.  Later the same exercise may
be done targeting the inside pocket of the elbow.

The second exercise starts from the same position.  The master
disengages to quart and steps forward.  As soon as the student
sees movement, they will disengage to sixte and elevate the
point.  Then giving a gentle squeeze with the fingers, bring the
point down on the target.  All of this should be done without
pause.  Especially the moment where the pupil’s blade reaches
the highest point after the disengage.  The idea is to have a
brief moment of relaxation between he disengage and the touch.
Use the momentum of the disengage to carry the point up then
snap the point down to target.

    The third exercise is identical with a double.  Therefore
the master performs two disengages without pause and steps
forward.  The student disengages twice without pause and sticks
the touch.  Again, there is no extension, only the drop of the
point with the fingers.  During these exercises, it is
recommended that the pupil not wear a fencing coat or plastron.
Much of the master’s attention needs to be set on the amount of
tension in the pupil’s shoulder.  The coat often hides this,
however in a light shirt, the master can easily identify when
the student needs to relax.  After a lunge, a gentle laying of
the flat of the master’s weapon on the student’s shoulder will
ease the muscles and correct the position.  Later drills may be
executed with the extension or lunge with the true touche
suffixing the action.
END
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