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In response to my initial suggestion that to work toward the survival of classical fencing a national association be formed, Mr. Akilles asked:
> How long after the genesis of said organization will we be facing the mirror image of > the USFA?
The nature of this question implies that a national organization of classical fencers is predestined to become a mirror image of the USFA. I can find no basis for subscribing to this presumption.
Mr. Akilles added:
> I raised a tengental issue to this weeks ago by asking why the current fencing
> masters do not convene and discuss these matters with one another. I don't think
> regular email or phone conversations is sufficient. Specifically, when you talk about
> the codification of regulations - setting standards - there seems to be little real
> interest in doing so."
I cannot speak for anyone else, but certainly, I am interested. As to fencing masters convening at a specific, physical location, at this time such conventions are prohibitively expensive (an obstacle that could more easily be overcome with funds generated by a national organization). For the present, e-mail or telephone conversations are the only practical means of communication available to us, and they will have to do. Granted, they are cumbersome, but the task of drafting fencing regulations, by its very nature, requires thoughtful deliberation that ought not to be imprudently hurried along by the imperatives of hotel bills, meals, scheduled airline departures, and other attendant costs.
Mr. Akilles continued:
> Also, this is an open question, whether the creation of such an organisation is
> necessary merely as an economic vehicle to persuade fabricators to make things we
Certainly not in my view. From my perspective its main thrust would be directed to the perpetuation of classical fencing. Access to the necessary equipment is an important objective, but by no means the only one.
> Mr. Akilles concluded:
> Also, having written about this before . . . doesn't it strike anybody as
> insane that people are starting their own organizations? You've got Rez
> Johnson and the Traditional Fencing, you've got Walter Green and his CFA
> or whatever - then theres the AHF and the other international groups.
> It seems to me that there are already too many organizations and far too
> few organizing principles. Nobody wants another USFA. or do they...?
As noted previously, there is no evidence that that anyone in the classical fencing community is desirous of creating "another USFA," and there is no sound reason to conclude that a body governing classical fencing on a national level must inevitably become so.
With respect to the existence of other organizations, perhaps a judgment of "insanity" is a bit less than generous. What the multiplicity of these organizations may represent is the fits and starts in an evolutionary process which leads toward the eventual founding of the national organizations required to govern and preserve these disciplines. Evidently, their founders already appreciate the necessity to organize. Maξtre Crown is right when he says that attempting to get members of the classical fencing community to unite in a national organization may be like herding cats, but I don't believe he means to suggest that it shouldn't be attempted. The labors of those who make the initial effort may go unrewarded, but in my opinion a national organization of some kind must eventually come into being if classical fencing is to survive because the forces that sustained it in the past are no longer extant.
Mr. Franklurz wrote:
"With respect to the existence of other organizations, perhaps a judgment of "insanity" is a bit less than generous. What the multiplicity of these organizations may represent is the fits and starts in an evolutionary process which leads toward the eventual founding of the national organizations required to govern and preserve these disciplines. Evidently, their founders already appreciate the necessity to organize. Maξtre Crown is right when he says that attempting to get members of the classical fencing community to unite in a national organization may be like herding cats, but I don't believe he means to suggest that it shouldn't be attempted. The labors of those who make the initial effort may go unrewarded, but in my opinion a national organization of some kind must eventually come into being if classical fencing is to survive because the forces that sustained it in the past are no longer extant."
Indeed. Less than generous, perhaps. I do think it a bit foolish or unreasonable for there to be an organization in everybody's backyard. Especially if only to garner a new title in a signature.
But back to my point. These are going on and yet we see no collective move on the part of our current fencing masters to unite. Or have I missed one of the new organisations? You say again that "a national organization of some kind must eventually come into being if classical fencing is to survive" but we have said that since 1998, at least. Again, though not very generous, I submit that if in approximately 10 years we have gained nothing more than a few phone calls and a variety of local organisations, what have we done to preserve classical fencing? What exactly are you advocating? What specific steps are you taking? What needs to be done?
I say "no collective move on the part of our current fencing masters to unite" precisely because of the issue of authority or reputation. If we prepared a neutral meeting space, hotel accomodations and other resources here in Saint Louis would the current fencing masters come to an inaugural meeting? Saint Louis is handy for its geography and inexpensive real estate. I think a move like that would go a long way to generate intest both among the rank and file fencers across the country and to generate the productive energy among professional fencing teachers.
I then imagine your head exploding.
Sure, since you asked so nicely...
1) For about 10 years people have talked about forming an organisation to support CF here in the US.
2) this has not happened, though some smaller, regional orgs have formed. these regional groups do not cooperate with one another to further the goal of unifying the goals of preserving CF in this country.
3) our current fencing masters have not yet convened, all together, in one location to meet, fraternize, and have an open discussion. reasons for this not happening have included cost, location, time - in effect planning.
4) there are fencing masters on both coasts of this country.
5) I have a facility dead in the center of the same country.
6) to help facilitate the processes in forming an organization for CF in the US - OR - a conference for professional fencing teachers/masters, I am offering:
a- my facility as a neutral meeting place for attendees - at no cost
b- to spearhead the planning of the mundane needs for the meeting (hotels, food, local transportation, etc) - and to help subsidize the costs involved
c- whatever else people might recquire, like transcription services of the meeting, multimedia, etc. - and to help subsidize the cost
I realise that
1) fencing masters would need to recognize the need for such a meeting and dedsire to attend - I have no claim to any authority to bring them here (that was a good joke, Bill)
2) fencing masters would need to find the time in their schedules for the meeting
3) most likely, it would recquire fencing masters to pay for their flights here and to a degree other personal expenses - (I can't pay for everything myself even though it would be great) - although we could perhaps find a grant or underwriter for these expenses.
We were already planning on having Maestri Hayes and Martinez here in the Fall of 2007. This was to be a private instructional weekend for the CFS members, but we could easily piggy-back the meeting. After all, 2 fencing masters will be here already.
As for the invite list, I will gladly leave that to others. As you can see, I would be pretty busy sweeping the floor.
Last edited by Akilles (2006-09-22 13:07:22)
In a sense, when David focuses on the authority issue, he is right. You bet he is. I think he's right and then takes the wrong path, but hey, the man's right about the authority issue.
Major snip there. Bill added some content at some point. Heh. Anyway, I don't know what this issue of authority is. Can you explain that, Bill? Is it because we don't have the same fencing teacher anymore? I really don't know what you are trying to say. Maybe you can help me out.
You wrote "KFS recognizes an American master, one from my perspective--of course this perspective is not shared in St. Louis-- repudiated by the St. Louis group,"
You are initiating a discussion about a relationship that you do not have a complete understanding of. I wonder why you brought it up.
Last edited by Akilles (2006-09-22 13:27:37)
Withdrawn; but not "reigned in." My posiition and rhetorical tropes were not personal but based on principles, and one corollary of them is that classical or traditional fencing should be "ubiquitous." I follow the teaching of a master I respect. --BL
Last edited by wleckie (2006-09-23 01:08:44)
Briefly, I think David's offer is most generous ... to do the grunt work to make it easier for the Masters and their under Instructors to congregate in productive discussion.
We, (the CFS) would simply be facilitators. Nothing more. Such a convention would be driven by the Masters. Let the Masters set the agenda, the format even. It would be open to all who are capable of attending. We would just be trying to make such a convention easier. Masters could come and discuss - in a locked room if they wish... any of us students who happen to have come along could amuse ourselves by strengthening the CF community through actual interaction and fencing. We usually hold two invitationals per year and enjoy so much getting to bout others from around the country ... I am sure we could find something to do while the Masters discuss.
Actually, the more I think of it the more it sounds like a wonderful way to spend a few days.
Regarding the blade issue David mentioned before...
I had a good start with Uhlmann a few years ago regarding the possibility of making Italian epee blades to spec. I exchanged several emails with a rep from the company and was going about finding out the interest (in fact, we had started taking tentative orders from traditional fencers from around the country) to meet the quota Uhlmann needed to make it worth their while. Then, I suddenly received an email from the rep saying that in further discussions with supervisors, it was determined that Uhlmann would not, in fact be able/willing to fill such an order .. regardless of how many blades we ordered...
Uhlmann still produces Italian foil blades... they are similar to the France Lames ones Santelli used to sell, except they have taken the initiative of rounding the edges of the ricassi (something I always did myself when I received one of the FL blades). This makes them more comfortable in the hand... the tempering is, well, not quite what we would ultimately desire ... but beggars can not be choosers.
Ah, we agree on something at last!
OK. How has this helped me to understand what your issue with my issue with authority is?
I say, "You are initiating a discussion about a relationship that you do not have a complete understanding of" and you read me as saying, 'Bill, you arrogant SOB"?
As far as I can recall, there were three people involved in the discussion that brought about the dissolution of working fencing relationships between Nick and the CFS. You were not one of those people. So you can;t have a complete understanding of that relationship. Additionally, the relationship preceeded your involvement with the CFS. It may have even preceeded your return to St Louis (Fall of 1998)?
To this day I don't have a complete understanding of what happened. It was a real life Twilight Zone episode. And the spins offs are still getting airtime.
You brought up the authority thing and I asked you to clarify it and you didn't. Instead you write some quality Missouri sarcasm about this unexplained authority problem you have with me, ho doulos. You wrote,
"On these terms, it is presumptuous of me, apparently, even to inquire."
What did you inquire? You made an accusation and then cried foul and left Dodge.
For the record I defer all matters of fencing authority to Maestro Sean Hayes, who has been kind enough to listen to me and answer some of my questions and even come out here and work with me and the CFS fencers. What purpose does it serve, Bill, to portray me as a megalomaniac? What data are you using? Is this your paper or Nick's?
Since Bill took this as an opportunity to take peronal shots I'll move my proposal to a new thread.
Last edited by Akilles (2006-09-22 15:17:18)
I've been following this topic for some time now, and while I certainly cannot address or comment on the specifics of the various fencing masters or local/regional organizations, I do have a few observations which are germaine to the topic.
One, I have noticed the subject of appropriate or acceptable blades for classical fencing and the increasing difficulty in obtaining them. One advantage of a national or international organization is that a standard could be set to that a Classical Fencing Certified blade would meet certain minimum standards in strength, flexibility, taper, weight, and such, and would provide a somewhat universal standard, much the way that an FIE blade must meet certain criteria. Some FIE blades are better than others, but they all meet a certain minimum standard.
Secondly, and more importantly, it would help establish a standard as to what a classical fencing master is and is not, thus helping to eliminate the self proclaimed fencing masters who aren't. Generally, if there is a national organization that an instructor or manufacturer is associated with, those who are not within the organization are generally perceived less favorably by those outside. The advangage is that students looking to study classical fencing can know that they are getting the genuine article. There will probably always be a multiplicity of organizations, but having one nationally recognized organization could be beneficial to all of them, mainly by setting a bar and the aforementioned equimpent issue.
Lastly, the issue comes up regarding who determines what is and what isn't classical fencing. All previous posters are assuredly more quallified to comment on who is the genuine article and who is not, so I won't comment in that area. But it does seem that there is an affiliation of some sort between a number of masters, enough that a broad based agreement regarding what is and is not Classical Fencing should be able to be reached.
My own personal feelings are that anything that would promote the art without diluting it would be a step forward. I mentioned in Maitre Crown's 'Ideas' thread that there is a movement within Kendo to make it an olympic sport, pushed mainly by smaller, mostly Korean, organizations and one of the larger Korean organizations (WKA). This runs all of the dangers of turning the art into what modern sport fencing has become: all emphasis on getting the point at the expense of correct form, technique, and all the subjective factors that go into determining the validity of a strike.
Thankfully, the IKF (International Kendo Federation) has such a strangle on the art that that is not likely and even if it was, the majority of kendo practitioners would still be learning in the correct manner. That is what I believe classical fencing needs; a strong organization that can stand on it's own even in the presence of the FIE/USFA.
The club I attend is a sport fencing club, and it is an enjoyable and fun place. But there is no classical aspect to it at all. Near as I can tell, there is no place in Maryland to learn Classical fencing. I could be wrong, but I haven't found a classical fencing salle after over a year of hunting. I like what we do at the club, but it isn't all that I'd like to do. In fact, I'd rather learn classically, as it makes one a better fencer regardless of what style one fences.
Again, as a newcomer, I hope that I am not coming off like a fool (if so, please feel free to tell me). As one who would like to see Classical fencing flourish and thrive, I thought I'd put my thoughts on the board for more qualified individuals to weigh and measure. I hope that what I have said has been a positive contribution to the discussion, or at least that it has not detracted from it.
Last edited by The Rose Knight (2006-12-22 10:19:37)