Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lungeing at Conclusions

In WW2 both the allies and the axis forces used the hand grenade. The allied used a oval shape grenade which looked a bit like a pineapple but the Germans had a grenade with a stick handle. Why did two so obviously different designs arise for the same object? (Bear with me reader, I am hastening toward a point here.) Basically, the Germans used their grenades much more in an offensive capacity whilst the allies had planned to use them more defensively i.e. popping one over the edge of a trench and keeping your head down. By putting a stick on it, the German grenade could be thrown further and more accurately. It didn't have as big a payload but it could be deployed more accurately, which suited the German tactics of blitzkrieg and rapid counter-attacking on positions they had just lost.
So what in the name of Bodhidharma's beard does this have to do with fencing?
Well, it's dawned on me recently that the lunge is the same technique but has totally different applications in epee and foil. In foil the lunge has to be parried by the opponent if they want to score a defensive hit, therefore it can be used by the attacker to provoke or deceive. It also has to be deeper in order to hit the body. In epee the defender can also score against your lunge, but in a more passive way i.e. simply by ignoring it and countering in time or before the lunge even lands. This kind of takes away some of the lunges effectiveness in epee and brings into question the payback of cost against result of a good lunge to body. I've seen a lot of good lunges in epee that have only resulted in a hit against the lungeing fencer. However I still believe it has it's place in epee, it just needs to be applied in the right way. As for that right way...? Well, I'll leave you to think about that for yourselves...!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good posts. I like the grenade analogy, and for me it chimes with the use of the grips in fencing. French is often pommelled in Epee and rarely/never pommelled in Foil. You are entirely correct that the Epee lunge is unsafe without control of the blade (no right of way to benefit attacker), and this leads (some) Frenchie Epeeists to use the French differently in order to enhance their counter-attacks. Swines!

I am uncertain, however, whether this makes Epeeists the Allies or the Axis! I have my suspicions though...


Fri Mar 19, 01:05:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Dave said...

Jai, an interesting point. I think a lot of French-grip people who pommel are probably doing it because they have seen someone else do it. It strikes me as a bit of an evolutionary trade-off in the sense that you are accquiring some distance but potentially sacrificing control. Therefore it's likely to be something to recommend only if you have a bit of experience.... and the scenario calls for it.

Sat Mar 20, 09:16:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you were going to make a Stay and Play analogy. Oh well, nice post.

Thu Mar 25, 05:03:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While an interesting analogy, the premise for the designs are incorrect. The German 'stick grenade' or 'potato masher' was actually developed before and used during WWI. The handle design provided not only a method of throwing (usually overhand) but a channel for the fuse to burn in without being affected by the elements. The American 'pineapple' was developed between the wars. It incorporated an enclosed fuse, but more inportantly, the round shape and ribbed structure - designed to provide weak areas in the shell and produce more shrapnel - was perfect for throwing by young troops that grew up playing baseball, as opposed to their German counteparts that never played sports that involved thowing small round objects.

Additionally, the round shape of the American grenade provided a more predictable placement once it hit the ground, generally rolling along the axis of the trajectory it was thrown. The potato masher's odd shape would cause it to bounce eradically once it hit the ground, unless thown perfectly straight, and even then, dependin on which part of the grenade hit first, the bounce could go anywhere.

Tue Sep 27, 07:44:00 PM 2011  

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