As an avid practitioner of European schools of fencing, as well as a dedicated student of karate-do, it never fails to amaze me how little of Western swordsmanship is known amongst practitioners of Asian martial arts. A hundred years ago, anyone wishing to learn self-defense would have been equally likely to report to a fencing salle (school) for instruction in cane-fencing as to seek out a master of jujitsu, which was, at that time, a relatively new and exotic import from the East. Yet, today, if you mention a katana, everybody knows what you’re talking about: a relatively short Japanese single-edged sword with a curved blade. But almost no one knows what the heck an epee is.
This deplorable situation plainly cannot be allowed to continue: Western fencing is every bit as worthy of study as kendo (the Japanese competitive art using bamboo practice swords), arnis (a Philippine martial art using empty hand as well as stick and bladed weapon techniques), gung fu (a generic term referring to Chinese martial arts), or other Asian martial arts. Therefore, for the edification of all, I present a brief synopsis of some of the weapons used in classical and modern sport fencing.
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