The Development of Épée Fencing, by Martin Mieloszyk

Épée, the art of fencing with a sword that has a blunted point and a bowl-shaped hand guard—not unlike that used in Hamlet’s duel with Laertes—has a fascinating history.

Begun in the early Renaissance period as a regulated means of fighting for one’s honor, traditional sword duels often ended in death. As pistols prevailed and bloodlust waned, however, swordsmanship eventually became more of a sporting pastime for the nobility than a suitable form of justice. Rules were established and detailed how-to manuals published, with the effect that some felt the sport had become too regulated and unrealistic. In response to this, épée fencing was developed by a group of academy students in late 19th-century France. By 1900, the sport debuted in the Olympics, though it remained a male sport, as women’s épée was not allowed until 1996.

Today, épée fencing still mimics 19th-century dueling practices, with the exception of the incorporation of modern technology, such as épées being electrically wired for scoring purposes.

About the Author:
Martin P. Mieloszyk participated in épée at Paris-Sorbonne University and as a member of the Polish national team in both épée and sabre. Also known as Marcin Mieloszyk, he currently serves as the President of L’Marc International, Inc.

Advertisements
Posted in Épée Fencing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment