Everything I Know About Fencing I Learned at the Movies

The following are well-recognized scoring “moves” in fencing competitions. Some require additional props, but most can be improvised.

The Back up the Stairs Retreat

Usually executed mid-match, this maneuver features one combatant backing up a set of stairs to a landing from which there is no means of escape but a hanging rope. (See, Swinging Back into the Fray)

Swinging Back Into the Fray

Normally via chandelier of hanging rope; in gymnasium climbing ropes may be substituted.

The Circular Flip Weapon from-Opponent’s Hand Move

Executed with a deft circular motion of the wrist, this maneuver deprives your opponent of his weapon. Bonus points awarded if weapon then seized from air by its grip. (points deducted from grabbing blade.) Self-satisfied leer optional.

The Dagger Parry

Having been divested of his weapon by the Circular Flip, above, the fencer may draw a six-inch dagger from his belt and proceed to defeat his bewildered opponent. (Psychologically devastating to opponent, and a real morale-builder for your team).

Cutting Chandelier Rope to Drop on Pursuing Team Members

Successfully executed, this move can really shift the momentum in a competition. It involves use of one’s weapon to cut the rope holding up an overhead lighting fixture so that it falls on opposing team members. Extra points awarded if fixture is of circular design and actually confines the pursuers. (See “Encirclement Points”) A basketball backboard and hoop can be substituted in most gymnasiums; however, in such case encirclement points are limited to one, given the small diameter of the rim. If burning candles on the chandelier ignite other objects, or competitors, additional bonus points may be awarded.

Stabbing Cask Instead of Opponent

This is actually a way of LOSING points. It occurs when a fencer backs his opponent into a cask or barrel. By sideways feint, the opponent causes his hapless aggressor to stab the barrel, rather than himself. If liquid spurts from the barrel or cask, subtract an additional point; if liquid is flammable (ex: brandy) and comes into contact with downed chandelier candles, add 3 excitement points.

Weapon Lodges in Solid Object

Another momentum-turner, this occurs when a fencer’s weapon becomes lodged in a solid object (other than an opponent) and its end breaks off. Distance points may be awarded, however, if remainder of weapon is thrown ineffectively at opponent.

The Veg-o-Matic

Extra points are awarded when ever an errant slash dices organic material (again, other than an opponent) such as apples or melons on nearby training table.

The Whittler

Employed after loss of main weapon, this maneuver involves the use of a wooden object to parry an opponent’s slashes. Points are awarded for the number of successive slashes which reduces the wooden object to a nubbin (often followed by “desperation throw,” described above).

Seize the Amulet

This move can be pivotal in competition. Each competitor wears a hanging pendant around her neck. The match is over when a fencer corners her opponent and flicks the pendant from its chain with her weapon. Extra points if caught in free hand. (normally followed by a sprint to the team bus).

The Graffiti Slash

Originated by a fencer named Zuckerman at NYU, this maneuver is used to inscribe one’s initials on an opponent’s uniform. Bonus points awarded for script. Neatness counts.

Tag-Team Moves

While not exactly politically correct, these moves foster strong team spirit. They involve members of the women’s team in, essentially, a supportive (if not downright decorative) role. Some of these are:

  • The Cowering Behind the Fencer Backing up Stairs Move
  • The Swinging on Rope with Male Fencer Escape
  • The Weapon Replacement Toss
  • The Cradling Head of Dying Male Fencer Pose (dying fencer must remember to recite: ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve)
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