Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fencing in Soerabaya

Fencing is a very uncommon topic in scripophily. This share was issued in 1897 for the establishment of a gymnastics and fencing school in Soerabaya, now the capital of the province of East Java. Under Dutch colonial government, Soerabaya became a major trading center, competing with Singapore, and hosted the largest naval base in the Dutch East Indies.
Share of the Gijmnastiek en Schermschool in Soerabay
Maatschappij tot exploitatie van een gebouw ingericht voor gijmnastiek en schermschool
English: Company for the exploitation of a building fitted for a gymnastics and fencing school

Modern fencing evolved from the methods taught at the Ecole Française d'Escrime, founded in 1567. This explains also the origins of the french fencing terminology still in use. Fencing has been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games since 1896. The organization of world cup competitions and Olympic fencing is the responsability of the french Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, founded in 1913.

There are several disciplines in fencing depending on the weapon that is used. Each discipline has different valid targets on the fencer's body. A short overview :
  • Foil
    • french: fleuret
    • a light thrusting weapon
    • valid target : the torso, the chest, shoulders, and back
    • Originally fencers used to blunt the weapon's point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point .
  • Épée
    • modern version of the duelling sword but without the sharp point
    • a heavy thrusting weapon, similar to a foil but with a stiffer blade
    • target area : the entire body
  • Saber
    • French: sabre
    • a light cutting and thrusting weapon
    • target area is the saddle line: from one side of the hip to the other, and up, including the head
  • Bayonet
    • French: baïonnette
    • a sword-shaped weapen fitting on a rifle
    • last competitions organized by armed forces took place in the 1950s

from the Laroussse Universel en 2 Volumes 1922
(click image for more details)

Starting with épée in 1936, the electrical scoring apparatus was introduced, which indicated a touch with an audible tone and a red or green light when a touch was made. Foil was electrified in 1956, sabre in 1988. The electrified weapons have a push-button on the point of the blade, which allows hits to be registered. Fencers wear conductive (lamé) jackets covering their target area. A body cord attached to the weapon, worn inside the sleeve is attached to the scoring box.

mens sana in corpore sano
a healthy mind in a healthy body

However, when this fencing school was founded in 1897, a scoring apparatus was not in use yet. Judges were still necessary to determine whether a touch had been made. Their task was often problematic as it was very difficult to decide whether a valid touch was made or not. Furthermore, well-known or better ranked fencers were often given the benefit of mistakes.

P.S. My favourite fencer is Zorro. And yours ?


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