We have ignition: Homer (USA) v Lambert (FRA)

Stance. Balance. Power. There’s some very nice models of good sabre footwork out there on the circuit. Then there’s Daryl Homer. Just look at this exchange with Lambert in the second bout of the USA’s team match against France at the 2014 World Championships in Kazan.

Everybody likes a good flunge, and Daryl Homer is one of the undisputed masters of the art. But the leadup here is just so freaking nice. And then comes the launch.

Full match has been uploaded to our YouTube channel:

Large ham: Bazadze (GEO) v Szilagyi (HUN)

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for the weekly impossible ref call. This one is a bit of an interesting case, based more on contextual rather than technical elements, and is included as a valuable case study for novice referees.

From the round of 16 at the 2014 World Championships: On the right is Aron Szilagyi, sabre prodigy, greatest fencer of his generation, reigning Olympic Champion, general golden boy, favourite to win the comp. On the left is Sandro Bazadze, who is a decent fencer but has a reputation for drama and aggression towards referees, and a finely-honed repertoire of quasi-legal dirty tricks (see the notorious twerking bout against Kovalev at the 2014 Coupe Acropolis in Athens for more on this: video below). Hey, whatever works, but it’s not the best way to make friends. Szilagyi’s lead has just collapsed from 8/3 to 9/8 and Bazadze seems to have a major upset in his sights. Drama! Screaming! Hilariously overblown hand gestures and excessively theatrical displays of disbelief and exasperation! What’s the correct call here?

Complete match has just been uploaded to our YouTube channel. Hit in question is at 10:05 or so if you want to try it with sound:

For the sake of completeness, here’s the aforementioned Kovalev v Bazadze match in the 32 at the 2014 Couple Acropolis:

Look for Bazadze’s weird little twitch of the hips on the start line, which he uses to draw Kovalev into four (4!) red cards for starting early. Unhappy Kovalev is unhappy.

Party like it’s 2009: Lam (HKG) v Kim (KOR)

We haven’t seen very many draw cuts over the last year on the men’s A-grade sabre circuit, compared to the golden days of Nicholas Lopez and Won Wooyoung. They’re not that effective any more as a lot of fencers have started delaying the extension of the hand on the attack. This is kind of a shame, as they just have so much flash.

However, they’re still around. Here’s a very nice one from Antonio Lam in the semifinal of Asian Games. JungHwan Kim seems to be a good target for this sort of thing, as he does tend to extend his (incredibly long) arms very early in the attack, but he’s so freaking quick that the timing has to be absolutely dead on. And it is so here:

Full match is available, albeit less shiny and high-definition than the very laggy and buggy bootleg official coverage:

…and just for the hell of it, here’s a bonus round: from Won Wooyoung, back in the good old days (2011). Won Wooyoung is the best. He just is. End of discussion.

Sad thing is, I literally had to go back to 2012 to find an example of him using a draw cut to actually score, as opposed to set up. Oh well, what goes around comes around.

For a lovely video from CyrusofChaos on the grand era of draw cuts around the Beijing Olympics, check this out.


Hail Mary Pass: Dolniceanu (ROU) v Szabo (GER)

A quick and dirty edition today. I’m still working my way through the details of the individual matches from the 2014 World Championships.  There’s lots of impressive athleticism, lovely technique, and juicy tactics. Then there’s hits like this:

Full match is available on our YouTube channel, and is actually really nice. Dolniceanu’s attacking game is very strong.

Display some adaptability: Gu (KOR) v Szilagyi (HUN)

Apologies to the haters, but we’re going to continue the Gu theme for one more day. Because this:

Oh my god, this. So good I built in a slow mo to a CyrusofChaos video. I never noticed it before because sadly the camera angle is not ideal, but wow.

Anyway, we know from various sources that Gu is training a ton of counterparries, and has been using them rather nicely recently, particularly in the 4m. The absolute best is his magnificent hit against Yakimenko in the Kazan semifinals, which I’ve posted previously. The thing with the 4m examples is that they’re clearly set up in advance, but I really can’t decide if the same is true of today’s hit.

So what do you think? Is it reflexes and adaptability, or is it a trap?

*EDIT: As very politely pointed out by Andrew Fischl, I done goofed. Not nearly as badly as Szilagyi, who actually went straight over Gu’s head, making the last edition more of an epic sabre fail than an epic sabre hit. Anyway, here’s a real counterparry from Gu.

Full video of the Gu v Szilagyi bout has been posted before, but in case you missed it, here it is again:

For the non-haters (and honestly, that should be everyone, because this guy is a truly extraordinary fencer), I posted a video yesterday which is worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.


I like the way you move: Gu Bongil (KOR): Epic Sabre Compilation

This was inevitable, really.

Gu Bongil, World #1, is a sabre prodigy with the most extraordinary attack of any fencer on the circuit. His lunge leaves biomechanics experts speechless and his counterparries are terrifyingly fast, but almost every other element of his game is built around a hilariously incongruous clumsiness. Word has it he’s rather irritating to fence.

Here he is, in all his glory. As always, crank up the music.

I’ve broken it roughly into sections:

  1. Funny stuff
  2. Long attacks in the 4m zone
  3. Takeovers
  4. Counterattacks
  5. Counterparries
  6. 4m parries
  7. Marching attacks
  8. Attacks on prep and short attacks in the 4m zone
  9. Moar funny stuff
  10. War cries

Massive thanks to CyrusOfChaos and LeeKyuJin for video.


Applied Physics: Gu (KOR) v Szilagyi (HUN)

We’re going to be running with a bit of a Gu Bongil theme for the next few days. The 25 year old world #1 has a simple but devastatingly effective game which is built entirely around his one showstopper move: the most extraordinary advance lunge on earth. It’s most commonly seen in the 4m, but here it is being deployed on the march against Aron Szilagyi in the finals at Padova earlier this year:
We’re dedicating quite a lot of thought at the moment to trying to figure out how the hell the biomechanics in this thing works. Hopefully will be able to provide a writeup at some stage in future. However, what is immediately obvious is
  1. Holy mother of god, does that kid have some range on him
  2. That is exhausting and/or painful to pull off, and by the end of the day at a big comp he must be running on the raggedy edge

The full match, courtesy of CyrusofChaos, illustrates point 2 perfectly. The big risk with Gu’s game is that at when he gets just a little bit too tired, he becomes totally ineffective. Failure is catastrophic.

For those who are interested in the technical aspect, we’ve already done a writeup on Gu’s advance lunge (mainly on the bladework) in the 4m zone.

Battle Royale: Gu (KOR) v Kim (KOR)

Today’s epic hit comes from the much-anticipated deathmatch between two team mates, World #1 and World #2, Gu Bongil and Kim Junghwan. The winning point from Gu in the 2014 Asian Games final is one of the most beautiful fencing actions I’ve ever seen. It’s the last word on attack-on-prep in the 4m.  Here it is from a bootleg HD version of the official coverage (which unfortunately only covers the last 3 points):

It also gave us what must be just about the best sabre photo of all time, captured by David Sim. Incredible.

Gu v Kim

Anyway, after a month of searching, we’ve finally got video (albeit unofficial) of the whole match. Took a lot of wrangling of the Korean fencing grapevine, but we got there in the end. Unofficial video of the full match is available on Youtube, thanks to Lee KyuJun:

Pretty full-on match. Rowdy crowd is rowdy. Much excitement! Kim is crazy tense, and Gu knows exactly how to exploit that, as that last attack makes only too clear. My only question is why Gu gets so many video appeals: I counted at least 4 unsustained. If anyone can enlighten me, please do.