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The Real Deal Has Audience Appeal


Laura Souris

No flashing lights. No bells, buzzers or whistles.

Yet approximately four hundred spectators gathered to watch the First Annual New York Wine Country Professional Fencing Championship which was held on Sunday July 26th in Watkins Glen, New York in conjunction with the Fingerlakes Wine Festival.

These spectators were not other fencers. Not team-mates, friends or family members. Just regular people. But they certainly knew a good fight when they saw it, and didn't hesitate to show their appreciation with applause and even cheers when touches were particularly well made. They didn't seem to have any trouble following the action or understanding who was touched.

How many times have we heard the complaint that fencing isn't spectator-friendly?

Well, perhaps the increasingly absurd so-called "fencing" of Olympic type competitions is meaningless enough to be boring. (When was the last time you saw 400 spectators at a fencing competition? Much of the time, even the other fencers don't hang around for the finals!) But the response of the audience at the Wine Festival was living proof that one doesn't have to be "sophisticated" or "initiated" to understand a good fencing bout when the fencing in question still bears some resemblance to actual swordplay.The event opened with a demonstration of fencing techniques performed by members of the Crown Academy of Armes. Led by Moniteur d'Armes Laurie Roe, the group included Matthew Hayes, Ron Lis, Bruce Horncastle, Robert Workman, Tom Bechtold, Michelle Sawyer and Stephanie Woodams.

Next came an entertaining presentation explaining the basic concepts and rules of fencing, given by Maitre d'Armes Richard P. Alvarez of Houston, Texas, who acted as "President du Combat" – a combination of referee and master of ceremonies.

Students from the Ramón Martínez Academy of Arms in New York City made a clean sweep of the preliminary bouts:

Mr. Kim Moser defeated Ms. Laurie Roe 4-3.

Left-hander Mr.Andy Baiman defeated Mr. Matthew Hayes 3-2.

Ms. Jeanette Acosta-Martinez defeated Mr. Ron Lis 6-1.

The main event featured a five-round match between Maitre d'Armes Adam Adrian Crown of Ithaca, New York, and Maestro di Scherma John Sullins of Binghamton, New York.


The weapons used were crafted by Master Armourer Robert MacPherson especially for this event. The hilts were made to the specifications in Luigi Barbasetti's Art of the Foil. The blades were extra wide epee blades from Triplette Competition Arms. They were as identical as possible and balanced four fingers ahead of the guard.

Not only were electrical scoring machines not used, but not even judges were employed. The honour system proved sufficient among honorable people.

The first round was fought cautiously as each master swordsman took the measure of his opponent, and ended with two touches against each gentleman. Maitre Crown established a small lead by the end of the second round, and was able to gradually pull ahead, managing a narrow victory of 20-14.

The expert swordplay was exciting. There were beautiful actions in time as well as third, fourth, and even fifth counter-ripostes. And the impeccable gallantry of the gentlemen, as they acknowledged touches against themselves or declined touches in their favor, was inspiring.

When they embraced afterward it was impossible to tell by their manner who had won and who had lost.

None of this was lost on the crowd as numerous spectators clamored around afterward to congratulate both masters.

This was fencing the way it should be. The way I dreamed of it as a kid. And the way I want my kid to learn it.

If you'd like to know more about hosting or participating in Classical Fencing matches, contact Maitre Crown at 1045 Coddington Road Ithaca, New York 14850, (607) 277-3262, info@classicalfencing.com.

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1999 Wine Festival Fencing Results | 2000 Wine Festival Fencing Results


Saddle, Lance and Stirrup: The Irish/Roman Connection
The Naked Truth | If I Had a Hammer
The Sabre's Edge | Swordfight at the OK Corral
How to Defend a Monopoly | A Propos d'un Accident
The Dubious Quick Kill part 1 | The Dubious Quick Kill part 2
Review and Commentary | Duels with the Sword | Starting with Foil
Liancour's Tercentenary | The Manuel d'escrime of 1877 | The Military Masters Fencing Program
Analysis of the Patton Fencing Manual | The Red Court Fencing's Royal Connection
| The Practical Saviolo part 1 | Saddle, Lance and Stirrup
Demystification of the Spanish School 1 | Demystification of the Spanish School 2
Demystification of the Spanish School 3
| A Brief Look at Joseph Swetnam
| Ithacan Retains Title | Third Time's a Charm
Cross-Training Not Cross-Purposes | Riposte Direct | Use of the Word "Sparring"
Chivalry Makes a Come-back | Teachings of Marozzo |

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This file was last modified Sunday, Mar 26 2006, 17:16:31 EST