Fencing with the Rapier

Fencing with the Rapier

Fencing is known as a group of associated combat sports and the three disciplines in contemporary fencing include the foil, epee, and the saber. When it comes to the winning points, these are achieved by making contact with the opponent. The fourth discipline is called the singlestick which appeared during the Olympics in 1904; however, the fourth discipline was dropped after and is not considered as part of contemporary fencing.

This was considered as one of the very first sports played in the Olympics, and based on the classic swordsmanship skills, the contemporary sport rose around the end of the nineteenth century. Here, the Italian schools began modifying the classic European martial art of traditional fencing then later on, French schools refined and improved the Italian system.

The Rapier

The rapier or the espada ropera is a loose term for a kind of sharp and slender pointed sword; it also features an interesting appearance which is basically optimized to be an effective thrusting weapon. Although it was made mainly for thrusting, there were some recorded details in various historical treatises about the rapier being used with slashing or cutting attacks. The weapon was also primarily utilized during the 16th and 17th centuries in Early Modern Europe.

Classic Fencing

Schools of classic fencing claim to have inherited the features of the rapier forms into their system. In the year 1885, Egerton Castle, a fencing scholar, stated that there is a little doubt that the system of fencing of the French can be traced all the way back to the ancient times of Italian swordsmanship. He also stated that the Italians have continued to preserve the form of the rapier with a cup, quillons, and the pas d’ane yet with a slender and quadrangular-shaped blade.

Fencing with the Rapier

References relating to rapier swords can also be found and these will feature the hefty and authentic sixteenth-century swords that the epee and foil were based on; with that, most of the rapiers that are being sold are generally reproductions for avid collectors and also for use in various reenactments. These replicas are specifically made for such purposes and are not recommended to actually fence with.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

However, there is still serious and growing interest in practicing the renaissance rapier fencing and it has been ongoing for over a decade; plus, a variety of methods for safely achieving this have also appeared for those interested; one of the most common and popular means is to actually utilize normal sport epees and other associated equipment. Additionally, using wider theatrical epees together with the historical-style imitation hilts have become greatly popular and a couple of the historical fencing aficionados can even be found utilizing the sport sabers and foils. Rapier fighting cannot just be accurately practiced or understood simply by including a couple of historical stances and theatrical poses or moves to the contemporary sport of fencing. Altering the rules you fence under is one, but changing the weapon itself has more of an effect. Remember that epees are specifically designed for epee fencing and are not the original rapiers. Epees promote a number of inappropriate actions which the real rapiers cannot really execute.

Swords for Rapier Students

For today’s rapier students, there are superior and viable alternatives to the distortions and limitations of utilizing the epees or foils; far better than the known rapier-simulators are the new flexi-rapier and the schlager blades. For a lot of years, these have been adapted for rapier reproduction by a number of historical fencing associations; and although these were created for slashing methods, the new long schlagers feature excellent flexibility and are safe for thrusting fence. More importantly, these come in various lengths that range from thirty-five, thirty-seven, forty, and forty-five inches; these are also matched with numerous styles of replica hilts that are available in specialty shops. Additionally, these are all fitted with a safety tip which makes these replicas resemble more of the real thing.

So basically, if you want to enjoy the modern or classic sport of fencing, then go and enjoy the sport wholeheartedly. If you are serious about learning how to use the rapier, practice and learn how to use the rapier or at least a proper reproduction of one. Playing with sports sabers, foils, or epees will not teach you how to properly utilize the real rapiers, let alone understand its predecessors.