Friday, September 23, 2011

The Belgian Longsword Rules - Part II:

At the end of last night's longsword class, and after watching the use of the modified Belgian rules for several months, I came to the conclusion that these rules solve three issues that have long been issues in fencing competition:

First - Does the best fencer emerge as the winner? The format of King and Champion gives great advantages to the King. To beat the King you have to demonstrate conclusively that you can attack and not be hit. The fencer who emerges as King after several rotations through the field of participants is the strongest on the day. A much simpler version of pools and direct elimination ...

Second - What do we do with simultaneous attacks? The King's ability to make an afterstroke eliminates the attractiveness of simultaneous actions. Right of way belongs to the fencer who starts with the advantage of being the strongest, the King.

Third - Are attacks on vital areas more valuable than those on the periphery? Over the years there have been a number of attempts to identify and reward attacks to vital areas. Lancet epee, for example, has such a system. The Belgian rules codify this by awarding the higher hit priority. Although this later leads to the higher arm having the honor and thus the right of way extravagances of the 1800s, in reality it addresses the relative lethality of target areas recognized in the modern martial arts - head and neck hits are potentially fatal, torso less so, and extremities of even less danger.

Not a bad outcome from a very early set of fencing rules ...

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