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1.4 Which is the best weapon?




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

1.4 Which is the best weapon?

If the question means "what kind of fencing is the most fun?" then
the answer is: it depends what aspects of fencing you enjoy the most.
If you are fascinated by technique, bladework, and tactics, you will
probably get a lot of satisfaction from foil fencing. More visceral
fencers who want to experience the adrenaline rush of a fast,
agressive sword fight will want to try some sabre. Most epee fencers
consider themselves practical, no-nonsense sword fighters who rely on
as few artificial rules as possible. Enthusiasts of more medieval
combat styles, involving armour and heavy weapons, should consider
kendo or the SCA heavy lists.

Perhaps the question means "what is the best weapon for a
beginner to start with?" Foil is the most common starter weapon,
and its skills translate most easily to the other weapons. Sabre
is less ideal for students planning to try other weapons, due to
the higher cost of electric sabre gear, and the reduced use of
the point. Fencers who begin with epee may struggle with the
concept of right-of-way if they attempt to learn a second weapon
later. However, if the student is certain that they will stick
with sabre or epee, then there is no harm to starting with those
weapons immediately.

On the other hand, if the question means "which weapon is the most
deadly?" the answer will depend on a lot of factors, not the least
of which are the skill of the combatants, the presence of armour, the
military and cultural context, and the rules of the fight (ie. is
this a street fight, a gentlemen's duel, or open field warfare?).
Most swords are highly optimized for performance in a specific
environment, and will not perform well outside it. Comparing two
swords from completely different historical contexts is therefore
extremely difficult, if not downright silly.

Then again, perhaps the question means "which style of fencing is
the most realistic?" It must be said that questions of realism have
little relevance to an activity that has almost no practical
application in the modern world other than sport and fitness.
Historically, however, epees have the closest resemblance (among FIE
weapons) to real duelling swords, and the rules closely parallel
those of actual duels (sometimes being fought to only a single
point).

 

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