The Traditional School of Classical Italian Fencing – Serving Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico
The classical Italian foil is not a “weapon” in and of itself; it is more an instrument with which the Science of fencing is taught and learned. It appeared in its current form as early as the late 1600’s as the martial art of fencing became a more academic pursuit, though blunted versions of dueling weapons (also known as “foiled” weapons) were in use even earlier. The foil is effective with the point only, meaning only thrusting actions can be executed with it; traditionally the target area to strike is the torso. This is the first instrument all fencers in this school pick up and learn the Science of fencing with, as all technique and theory learned with it are fully translatable to the other weapons taught in this school. Completion of the foil curriculum and its associated examination is required before instruction in the other weapons below will begin.
The classical Italian Epee (Spada), also referred to in the classical era as a dueling sword, came about after the disuse of the smarra-type dueling swords in the late 1800’s. Finding a need to combat the French epee in competition, brothers and Maestri Aurelio and Agiselao Greco developed an epee that used Italian furniture. While much of the technique is similar to foil, its blade is stiffer than the foil, and the guard is larger to protect the hand, since the whole body is valid target. While the school will favor the smarra (below) as our dueling sword, the smarra is not widely used in the classical fencing competition space, and it is then the epee must be used instead.
Sabres are weapons with which one can execute cuts as well as thrusts. Using the Science, it is conceivable to fight only with the point of the sabre and still be effective, however the sabre’s edge is also threatening, thus the sabre technique provides for all manner of offensive cutting actions and defenses against such cuts. When at all possible, teaching and learning of the sabre technique will be done with the traditional sabre (top picture), as the technique makes much more sense with this sabre. The modern version of the classical sabre (bottom picture) is the form of sabre that is widely used in the competitive space (in both modern and classical venues). Its main advantage is that it is less expensive than the traditional sabre, and yet all sabre technique can still be learned with it.
The smarra, a contraction of spada di marra, the dueling version of which (utilizing a small diamond cross-section blade) is sometimes called a transitional rapier or late Italian rapier. This weapon was borne of the lessening of the features of the rapier (pictured below), while still maintaining similar functionality. Like the foil, this weapon is used for thrusts though tearing cuts with the point are taught. However, this weapon is designed to convey a much more complete martial experience, and as such, the valid target one can strike is the whole body, and in addition, disarms, locks, and grapples, are taught as complimentary techniques.
The rapier is the weapon that is the originator of most of our fencing technique. Historically, rapiers begin to appear in the 1500’s. While the science of fencing as we practice it begins here, the Science, even as it is taught today, is still very much applicable to this weapon. Like the smarra (above) which takes its form and function from the rapier, it too can cut with the point (some with the edge as well); due to the weapon’s length and heft (at least when compared to the other weapons shown), usage of time and distance is paramount, however, close quarters techniques like pins, grapples, locks, and disarms are also taught.