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Sunday, 25 January 2015


An Egyptian relief from the time of Pharaoh Rameses III (1190 BC) depicts a practice fencing match. The carving, excavated in a temple near Luxor, shows the points of the swords covered. The fencers wear masks and are watched by a group of spectators, while judges supervise the fight.

Spaniards made fencing a highly scientific pursuit. Gonzalo de Cordoba (d. 1515), known as "the Great Captain," is credited with having invented the hand guard. His sword is still displayed in a Madrid museum.

Henry VIII, himself an enthusiastic fencer in his younger days, by a Letter Patent of 1540 incorporated professors of fencing in his realm to teach the noble science of defense. The professor enjoyed this right as a privilege and a monopoly. Scholars graduated to become Provosts of Defense.

In 1602 the six-year-old Rene Descartes wrote a treatise on fencing. It was his first book.

In 19th-century Germany, fencing was a serious part of academic life, and dueling scars, usually inflicted on the left hand side of the face, were a badge of honor. The practice was eventually outlawed, but it never really died out.

When he was a pupil at Harrow, Winston Churchill became the school's fencing champion.

To prepare for his role in the film The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas practiced with the Olympic fencing team in Spain for four months.

The three swords that are used in fencing have evolved from different weapons of combat. The foil developed from the light French court sword and was also the practice weapon of the 17th century. The epee evolved from the 16th-century rapier used by the French musketeers. The saber derives from the slashing cavalry sword of the 18th-century Hungarian hussars.

In fencing each weapon requires slight variations of style, technique, and rules. The epee has been scored with an electrical apparatus since 1937; the foil, since 1957. The saber is still judged by jury.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the captain of his high-school fencing team.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

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