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Moscow State University fencers during demonstration bouts, September 1, 1973

In 2003, Rene Roch was appointed the new president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE). Addressing the audience, Mr. Roch stated that, unfortunately, traditional fencing sport no longer satisfied the public's demand, not to mention the fact that it is unable to reflect all the richness and beauty of such ancient phenomenon as fencing. The world's fencing leader went on to propose the initiative to create a special sporting division that would combine competitive events with various historical weapons. But because the FIE never had similar experience, Mr. Rene Roch addressed the proposal to develop this initiative to the world's leaders in fencing.

Of all world-class fencing masters, only our specialist David Abramovich Tyshler responded to the new president's call. He wrote that Russia has extensive experience in developing sports and proposed 10 criteria for judging the potential new trend in fencing, which would make it a competitive sport. Yet because David Tyshler was the only fencing master to show interest, his proposal has remained the proverbial voice in the wilderness. Meanwhile, there is less novelty to Rene Roch's idea than it appears. Bypassing the FIE, back in the 1990s the French Weapons Association started developing a direction called l'escrime artistique (artistic fencing) and held two world championship by the time the new FIE president was elected.

Surprisingly enough, the art of fencing, which first originated in the history of mankind as an art of killing, almost instantly acquired a second nature as an art of self-expression. Ancient accounts of mortal combat between heroes go hand in hand with descriptions of festivities in which specially trained masters imitated the same combats using artistic imagery. Elements of stage fencing were present both in the gladiator games of Ancient Greece and in Medieval knight tournaments. Stage fencing flourished in the art of wandering dramatic artists known as histrions and found a place in renaissance theaters.

Nowadays, stage fencing has acquired a new, competitive form, and gathers cold steel fighting professionals from the across the globe.


Scenes from plays by the RIPOSTE Studio of European Historical Fencing

L'escrime artistique or artistic fencing is a very complex sport that requires both masterly command of the weapon of choice and solid physical, athletic, stunt, and psychological training. Competitions are held in various nominations. French rules offer such divisions as "Group Fighting", "Duel" and "Solo Composition", while German fencers prefer costume and historical categories: "Antiquity" (from the origins to the end of the Middle Ages), "New Time" (from the Renaissance to our days), and "Fantasy". World championships in l'escrime artistique take place once every four years. Yet this type of fencing is gaining an increasingly greater popularity and can no longer fit into such constraints. Starting with 2006, Germany has established its own championship the Open Cup of Germany, which will be held once every two years. Notably, the Germans' initiative has led Russia to join the world's artistic fencing community, where it is represented by the "Riposte" Stunt Group of Sergey Misheniov's School of Fencing Arts and the Moscow Studio of Artistic Fencing "Espada".

In the this section the authors used materials provided by Sergey Misheniov's School of Fencing Arts "RIPOSTE" (St. Petersburg).

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