Épée

The modern épée (English: /ˈɛpeɪ/ or /ˈeɪpeɪ/, French pronunciation: ​[epe]) derives from the 19th-century Épée de Combat[1] (itself a derivative of the French small sword), and is the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in sport fencing.

As a thrusting weapon, the épée is similar to a foil (compared to a sabre, which is also designed for slashing), but has a stiffer blade, which is triangular in cross-section with a V-shaped groove called a fuller, has a larger bell guard, and is heavier. The technique, however, is somewhat different, as there are no rules regarding priority and right of way. In addition, the entire body is a valid target area.

Fencing epee valid surfaces
Shown is an épée fencer, with the valid target area (the entire body) in red.

Background

Final Trophee Monal 2012 n08
Electric épée fencing: Diego Confalonieri (left) and Fabian Kauter in the final of the Trophée Monal

While modern sport fencing has three weapons—foil, épée, and sabre, each a separate event—épée is the only one in which the entire body is the valid target area (the others restricted to varying areas above the waist). Épée is the heaviest of the three modern fencing weapons. As with all fencing disciplines, fencing matches with the épée require a large amount of concentration, accuracy and speed. Since the entire body is a target, a successful épée fencer must be able to anticipate their opponent's moves and strike their opponent at the correct time.

In most higher-level competitions, a grounded metal piste is used to prevent floor hits from registering as touches. Unlike sabre and foil, in épée there are no right-of-way rules regarding attacks, other than the aforementioned rule regarding touches with only the point of the weapon. Touches are awarded solely on the basis of which fencer makes a touch first, according to the electronic scoring machines. Also, double-touches are allowed in épée, although the touches must occur within 40 milliseconds (1/25 of a second) of each other.

Description

Épée complete
An electric épée with a pistol grip

A modern épée for use by adult fencers (size 5) has a blade that measures 90 cm from the bell guard to the tip; the maximum allowable mass is 770g, but most competition weapons are much lighter, weighing 300g - 450g. Épées for use by children under 13 are shorter and lighter (size 2), making it easier for them to use.

The épée has a three-sided blade, whereas the foil has a rectangular cross section. In competitions, a valid épée touch is scored if a fencer's weapon touches the opponent with enough force to depress the tip; by rule, this is a minimum force of 750 grams-force (7.4 N). The hand is a valid target so the bellguard is much larger and more protective than that of the foil. The bell guard is typically made of aluminium or stainless steel. The tip is wired to a connector in the bellguard, then to an electronic scoring device or "box". The bellguard, blade, and handle of the épée are all grounded to the scoring box to prevent hits to the weapon from registering as touches.

Italy v Estonia Challenge international de Saint-Maur 2013 t142226
The referee checks Kristina Kuusk's weapon in the Challenge International de Saint-Maur

In the groove formed by the V-shaped blade, there are two thin wires leading from the far end of the blade to a connector in the bellguard. These wires are held in place with a strong glue. The amount of glue is kept to a minimum as in the unlikely (but possible) case that a fencer manages a touch in that glue, the touch would be registered on the electrical equipment, as the glue is not conductive (the blade is grounded). In the event of tip to tip hits, a point should not be awarded. A "body cord" with a three-pronged plug at each end is placed underneath the fencer's clothing and attached to the connector in the bellguard, then to a wire leading to the scoring box. The scoring box signals with lights (one for each fencer) and a tone each time the tip is depressed.

The tip of an épée comprises several parts including: the mushroom-shaped movable tip; its housing or "barrel", which is threaded to the blade; a contact spring; and a return spring. The tips are generally held in place by two small grub screws, which thread into the sides of the tip through elongated openings on either side of the barrel. The screws hold the tip within the barrel but are allowed to travel freely in the openings. While this is the most common system, screwless variations do exist. The return spring must allow the tip to support a force of 750 gf (7.4 N) without registering a touch. Finally, an épée tip must allow a shim of 1.5 mm to be inserted between the tip and the barrel, and when a 0.5 mm shim is inserted and the tip depressed, it should not register a touch.[2] The contact spring is threaded in or out of the tip to adjust for this distance. These specifications are tested at the start of each bout during competitions. During competitions, fencers are required to have a minimum of two weapons and two body wires in case of failure or breakage.

Bouts with the different fencing weapons have a different tempo. Like the foil, the tempo for an épée bout is rather slow with sudden bursts of speed.

History

Dueling sword

Jacques Callot (1592-1635), Graveur.- Le duel à l'épée
A Swordfight, etching by Jacques Callot (1617)

The French word épée ultimately derives from Latin spatha. The term épée was introduced into English in the 1880s for the sportive fencing weapon.

Like the foil (fleuret), the épée evolved from light civilian weapons such as the smallsword, which, since the late 17th century, had been the most commonly used dueling sword, replacing the rapier.

The dueling sword developed in the 19th century when, under pressure from the authorities, duels were more frequently fought until "first blood" (as indicated by the French to English translation) only, instead of to the death. Under this provision, it became sufficient to inflict a minor nick on the wrist or other exposed area on the opponent in order to win the duel. This resulted in emphasis on light touches to the arm and hand, while downplaying hits to the torso (chest, back, groin). Rapiers with full cup-guards had been made since the mid 17th century, but were not widespread before the 19th century.

Sport

Today, épée fencing somewhat resembles 19th century dueling. An épée fencer must hit the target with the tip of the weapon. A difference between épée and foil versus sabre is that a corps-à-corps or "body-to-body" contact between fencers is not necessarily an offense, unless it is done with "brutality or violence".

In the pre-electric era, épéeists used a point d'arrêt ("stopping point"), a three-pronged point with small protruding spikes, which would snag on the opponent's clothing or mask, helping the referee to see the hits. The spikes caused épée fencing to be a notoriously painful affair, and épéeists could be easily recognized by the tears in their jacket sleeves. A later evolution of the sport used a point that was dipped in a dye, which showed the location of touches on a white uniform; the dye was soluble in weak acid (e.g., acetic acid) to remove old marks.[3] Today, competition is done with electric weapons, where a circuit is closed when the touch is made. Non-electric weapons are now typically used only for practice, generally fitted with plastic buttons.

Modern épée fencing underwent a paradigm shift from classical fencing in the 1970s and 1980s. The shift was pioneered by Eric Sollee, fencing coach at MIT, and his student, Johan Harmenberg who subsequently won the World Fencing Championships and the Olympic gold medal. This new paradigm is based on the three Sollee Conjectures:

  1. Is it possible for the fencer with the lower technical ability to decide the technical level of a bout?
  2. Can the fencer with the shorter fencing distance control the distance in a bout?
  3. Is it possible to force your opponent into your own area of greatest strength? [4]

This new paradigm resulted in Johan Harmenberg closing the fencing distance, using absence of blade with destructive parries in order to not allow opponents to use their strongest moves, and pushing them into attacking high which was a prerequisite for Johan using his own strongest move. Harmenberg used this approach to win eight individual and/or team epee gold medals at Olympic, World Fencing Championships, and Fencing World Cup competitions. As a result, many if not most of the top fencers have used the new paradigm or at least adjusted to fence those who do.[5][6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Evangelista, Nick. The Encyclopedia of the Sword. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. p 208
  2. ^ Garret, Maxwell R.; Kaidanov, Emmanuil G.; Pezza, Gil A. (1994). Foil, Saber, and Épée Fencing: Skills, Safety, Operations, and Responsibilities. Penn State University Press. p. 178. ISBN 0271010193. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  3. ^ Richard Cohen, By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions, 2002, Random House, ISBN 978-0-375-50417-4; re-issued from Modern Library Paperbacks
  4. ^ Épée 2.5: The New Paradigm Revised and Augmented, SKA SwordPlay Books, October 2014, ISBN 978-0985444181
  5. ^ Epee 2.0: The New Fencing Paradigm, by Johan Harmenberg, SKA SwordPlay Books, October 2007, ISBN 978-0978902216
  6. ^ Epee 2.5: The New Paradigm Revised and Augmented, SKA SwordPlay Books, October 2014, ISBN 978-0985444181

External links

Edoardo Mangiarotti

Edoardo Mangiarotti (Italian pronunciation: [edoˈardo mandʒaˈrɔtti]; 7 April 1919 – 25 May 2012) was an Italian fencer. He won a total of 19 Olympic titles and World championships, more than any other fencer in the history of the sport. His Olympic medals include one individual gold, five team golds, five silver, and two bronze medals from 1936 to 1960.

Fabrice Jeannet

Fabrice Jeannet (born 20 October 1980 in Fort-de-France, Martinique) is a retired French épée fencer.

Jeannet won the gold medal in the épée team event at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics and a silver medal in the individual épée in 2008. He was also a member of the French team that won the 2006 World Fencing Championships after beating Spain in the final. He accomplished this with his team mates Ulrich Robeiri, Gauthier Grumier and Érik Boisse.

His brother, Jérôme Jeannet is a fencer too.

Fencing

Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the foil, the épée, and the sabre; winning points are made through the contact with an opponent. A fourth discipline, singlestick, appeared in the 1904 Olympics but was dropped after that, and is not a part of modern fencing. Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport arose at the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the historical European martial art of classical fencing, and the French school later refining the Italian system. There are three forms of modern fencing, each of which uses a different kind of weapon and has different rules; thus the sport itself is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, épée, and sabre. Most competitive fencers choose to specialize in one weapon only.

Competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in every modern Olympic Games, the other four being athletics, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics.

Fencing at the 1912 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was a fencing event held as part of the Fencing at the 1912 Summer Olympics programme. It was the second appearance of the event, which had been introduced in 1908.

Fencing at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of seven fencing events on the Fencing at the 1928 Summer Olympics programme. It was the fifth appearance of the event. The competition was held from 3 August 1928 to 5 August 1928. 93 fencers from 18 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1948 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of seven fencing events on the fencing at the 1948 Summer Olympics programme. It was the eighth appearance of the event. The competition was held from 5 August 1948 to 6 August 1948. 113 fencers from 21 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1952 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of seven fencing events on the fencing at the 1952 Summer Olympics programme. It was the ninth appearance of the event. The competition was held from 25 July 1952, to 26 July 1952. 98 fencers from 19 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1956 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of seven fencing events on the fencing at the 1956 Summer Olympics programme. It was the tenth appearance of the event. The competition was held on 28 November 1956. 55 fencers from 11 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1960 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1960 Summer Olympics programme. It was the eleventh appearance of the event. The competition was held on 9 September 1960. 105 fencers from 21 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1964 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1964 Summer Olympics programme. It was the twelfth appearance of the event. The competition was held October 20–21, 1964. 86 fencers from 18 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1968 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1968 Summer Olympics programme. It was the thirteenth appearance of the event. The competition was held from 24 to 25 October 1968. 91 fencers from 20 nations competed. For the first time in 60 years, Italy failed to finish in the top three positions.

Fencing at the 1972 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1972 Summer Olympics programme. It was the fourteenth appearance of the event. The competition was held from September 8 to 9 1972. 94 fencers from 20 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1976 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1976 Summer Olympics programme. It was the fifteenth appearance of the event. The competition was held from July 28 to 29 1976. 85 fencers from 19 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1980 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of eight fencing events on the fencing at the 1980 Summer Olympics programme. It was the sixteenth appearance of the event. The competition was held from 25 to 26 July 1980. 52 fencers from 11 nations competed.

Fencing at the 1996 Summer Olympics – Men's team épée

The men's team épée was one of ten fencing events on the fencing at the 1996 Summer Olympics programme. It was the twentieth appearance of the event. The competition was held on July 23, 1996. 33 fencers from 11 nations competed.

Laura Flessel-Colovic

Laura Flessel-Colovic (born 6 November 1971) is a French politician and épée fencer who served as Minister of Sports from 2017 to 2018. Born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, she has won the most Olympic medals of any French sportswoman, with five. Before 2007, she was a member of the Levallois Sporting Club Escrime, and now works with Lagardère Paris Racing. She is married and has one daughter.

She was France's flag-bearer at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London, which was her fifth and last Olympics.She was appointed Minister of Sports in the Philippe Government on 17 May 2017 and resigned on 4 September 2018.

Philippe Boisse

Philippe Boisse (born 18 March 1955) a French fencer. He won a gold medal in the team épée event at the 1980 Summer Olympics and the individual épée at the 1984 Summer Olympics. He also won a silver in the team épée in 1984.He is currently a vice-president of the French Fencing Federation, and a practicing physician (radiology).

He is the father of Érik Boisse, a 2004 Olympics gold medal winner in men's team épée.

William Longsword

William Longsword (French: Guillaume Longue-Épée, Latin: Willermus Longa Spata, Old Norse: Vilhjálmr Langaspjót; c. 893 – 17 December 942) was the second ruler of Normandy, from 927 until his assassination in 942.He is sometimes anachronistically dubbed "Duke of Normandy", even though the title duke (dux) did not come into common usage until the 11th century. Longsword was known at the time by the title Count (Latin comes) of Rouen.Flodoard—always detailed about titles—consistently referred to both Rollo and his son William as principes (chieftains) of the Norse.

World Fencing Championships

The World Fencing Championships is an annual competition in fencing organized by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime or FIE, (International Fencing Federation in English). The world championships are, after the Olympic Games, the most prominent international competition in the sport of fencing. Contestants may participate in foil, épée, and sabre events.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.