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1.17 What is the scoop on "flicks" and "whips"?




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This article is from the Fencing FAQ, by Morgan Burke with numerous contributions by others.

1.17 What is the scoop on "flicks" and "whips"?

Flicks are whip-like attacks that can score against very oblique
and even concealed targets. Sometimes thought of as a recent
corruption, flicks actually have a long history that stems from
coupe' (the cut-over) and fencers' efforts to throw their points
around the parry. Properly executed and judged, they are effective
and beautiful attacks; poorly executed and judged, they can be
painful and annoying.

One common criticism of the flick is that it would cause minor
injury with a real weapon. The obvious, if flippant, response to
this is not to flick if you're trying to kill someone with a real
weapon.

Another common criticism is that flicks are difficult to
defend against. One must simply remember to parry them as if
they were cuts, not thrusts (using auxiliary parries like tierce,
quinte, and elevated sixte). The flick is also highly sensitive
to distance, and a well-timed break in the measure will cause it
to land flat.

A third criticism is that flicks are usually given the priority,
even though the attack often begins with the point aimed at the
ceiling. However, the definition of an attack (see question 1.14)
says nothing about where the point is aimed, only what it is
threatening. It is normally true that an attack that scores must
have threatened in at least its final tempo, no matter where it
was pointed at the start of that tempo.

Sabre fencing has suffered from a related and more serious
scourge, the whip-over. In this case, the foible bends around the
opponent's blade or guard following a parry, to contact the target
and register a touch. The scoring machines attempt to reduce these
false touches by blocking hits within a certain time window following
weapon contact, but this is of limited effectiveness and also has the
unfortunate effect of blocking the occasional attack through the
blade. Referees have tried to help out by analyzing whip-over
touches as remises, but they still score over composed or delayed
ripostes. The FIE has been considering and trying various possible
fixes, including varying the timeouts and mandating stiffer sabre
blades.

 

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