Swashbuckling: Apithy (FRA) v Kim (KOR)

Haven’t had time for much rigorous analysis lately. Hopefully will be able to get to the Budapest stuff in proper detail on the weekend. In the mean time, here’s a brilliant pair of exchanges from a 2012 world cup semifinal between Bolade Apithy and Junghwan Kim. Every so often I get an earful from some crusty old salt about how there ain’t no parrying in this here modern sabre. To which I say Sir, here is why I respectfully disagree:

This first one was early in the match, and Kim plays a beautifully cool distance game.

In the first half, he unleashed a perfectly calibrated 8/0 run on Apithy, involving some precision timing in the 4m and a whole lot of his hallmark infuriating remise hits past what should have been a perfectly good parry.

As Apithy gained a bit of steam in the second half and started fighting back, Kim got a bit rattled. This fantastic hit, right at the close of the bout, has a very similar overall structure to the first, but instead of aborting the initial march Kim over-commits, coming down quite hard and injuring his ankle. Not the kind of guy to let a thing like a twisted ankle stop him from fighting, he kept going.

After a medical break, he pulled it back together to win on the next point, but was forced to withdraw from the final against Szilagyi.

The full bout with Apithy is here, thanks to CyrusofChaos.


et voilá: Gu (KOR) v Szilagyi (HUN)

First off, apparently I’m not that bad at this sabre prediction thing!

The 2014-2015 FIE season got started in spectacular fashion last night in Budapest. There were some major upsets in the 64 and 32, with Kovalev, Kim, Won, Samele, Homer and Dolniceanu losing early, and Berrè and Wagner injured. There was a whole herd of dark horses in the 8:

Budapest T8

From the 8,  nature took its course pretty quickly, with Szatmari, Yagodka, Hwang and Huebers being fairly comprehensively overpowered by the top 4. The full stream is available here:

Szilagyi and Montano’s bout was tense and dramatic, with some excellent fencing on both sides. Yakimenko v Gu, on the other hand, was a massacre. By the time they were about 5 points in, I’d already called the comp for Gu.  The only thing that could have stopped him would have  would have been Szilagyi at the absolute peak of his game. There were two possibilities for the final:

  1. Under enormous pressure to win on his home turf in the 100th anniversary year of his national federation, Szilagyi would rise to the occasion with incredible heroics and the greatest fencing of his life.
  2. Under enormous pressure to win on his home turf in the 100th anniversary year of his national federation, Szilagyi would lock up, and Gu would toy with him in the same way he’d earlier toyed with Limbach and Yakimenko.

Take a careful look at the following clip and try to figure out which scenario happened:


The first half of the match was cold-blooded murder. It wasn’t until around 10/4 until Szilagyi finally stopped thinking about the big trophy and started taking things point by point.  By 14, Gu was just slightly tense, and Szilagyi started to fight back.

This one in particular was a classy hit:

Gu’s lead was so commanding, however, that it was a futile effort, and Gu brought things home with a ludicrously fortuitous counterattack. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is your epic hit of the day:

Gu will, fairly obviously, maintain his #1 world ranking with an expanded lead. Szilagyi will move into second place, ahead of Kim. The next comp is in just three weeks, in New York.

Budapest podium

Nice work, gentlemen.

Get ’em while they’re down: Yakimenko (RUS) v Won (KOR)

The big table for the Budapest world cup is up, and we’re looking forward to some pretty interesting matches in about 12 hours’ time. One we’re pretty confident we’ll see is Won v Yakimenko in the 16. These two faced off at the same comp last year in the 32, and Won dominated the match with an unusually aggressive 4m game which took Yakimenko a bit by surprise. He wasn’t able to recover, but he took a bit of revenge a vicious marching attack right at the end:

This is the brute-force approach to countertime.

Full match is here, thanks to CyrusofChaos:

The next round, of course, was the match of the year: Won v Szilagyi, a match of uspeakable magnificence. I liked it. We won’t get a repeat of that one this year unless it’s in the final, and that’s sadly unlikely to happen. As previously noted, predicting A-grade sabre is a mug’s game, but what the hell. It’ll be Szilagyi v Gu in the final. You heard it here first, folks.

Changes to the 4m

A proposal from Russia to the FIE Congress:

“t.17.3. In saber fencing The Referee places each of the two competitors in such a way that the back foot of each is 2 meters from the center line of the piste (that is, in front of the ‘on-guard’ lines).”

I’d like to address this in the kind of serious and systematic fashion it deserves:

lol wut?

I guess they’re sick of getting hit with this:

2014-2015 FIE men’s sabre season starts tonight!

It’s that time of year again: The first comp of the men’s sabre FIE season, the Budapest World Cup, starts tonight.

  • Preliminary rounds: 12am AEDT Saturday
  • IndividualTableau of 64 starts 8pm AEDT Saturday
  • Teams starts 6pm AEDT Sunday.

Live results will be available right here. Live video streams are here.

Here’s a reminder of how last year went down:

There were some concerns that last year’s champion, Kim Junghwan, was out of action due to injury, but it seems he’s there and ready to defend his title. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Hungarian Fencing Federation, so I suspect they might be out for some gold themselves. Wonder who might be the favourite here?


Impossible to say.

Szilagyi, like the rest of the top 16, will be having the day off today, but if you’d like to get yourself in the mood for tomorrow, try this out if you haven’t already:


Party like it’s 2009, part 2: Korea v Hungary

I wrote a post a couple of weeks bemoaning the demise of the draw cut. Review of Korea v Hungary showed that either earlier reports were exaggerated, or the combination of the two most draw cut-happy teams on the circuit brought them back out of hiding again.

Either way, I was a bit unkind to Csanad Gemesi yesterday. He’s a very good fencer, and he scored some lovely hits. Yesterday’s edition was about the Koreans using massive, aggressive attacks to rattle Gemesi and make him tense. The downside with big attacks is they’re pretty open to this sort of thing:

Szilagyi also likes these, and pulled off a beauty against a marching attack by Gu:

It wasn’t a one-sided tactic: Won threw one in towards the end stages, with his characteristic bounce.

Once again, the full match is here:

Shock and awe: Korea v Hungary

Finally got around to having a proper look at the Korea v Hungary semifinal from Kazan. There are a couple of standout features of the match, which I might take a look at over the next couple of days.

It was interesting to watch the Koreans switch tactics based on their opponents. Desci just got blindsided by fast 4m attacks which he was simply not quick enough to respond to. Against Gemesi, who was fast but tense, they used a different approach. See if you can spot the common themes here:

Here’s Kim, setting up with an advanced lunge as only Kim can:

Here’s Won, deploying his patented “Run Away” stop cut:

Here’s Gu, adding a bit of delicacy to it with a nice line:

Set up with a big attack to rattle the opponent, then be ready with the attack on prep when he rushes in. There were a ton of these, but this trio was the nicest.

Here’s the full match:

It was the best match all day for the Korean team. They dominated every bout except for a couple of good runs from Szilagyi: 6/5 against Kim (who was robbed of 3 points which should have made it 2/5, IMHO: starting from the parry at 23:10, followed by two out of the next three attacks which were called simul), and 8/5 against Won (who had a 16 point lead and did not seem unduly concerned).

We’ll have a look at some of the other interesting points tomorrow.

The fastest gun in the west: Szilagyi (HUN) v Kim (KOR)

Not enough time today for a proper analysis of Korea v Hungary, I’m afraid. Instead, here’s an eye-wateringly fast stop cut from Szilagyi against Kim in their final at the 2014 Budapest Grand Prix. What a hit.

This has got to be about the quickest cut I’ve ever seen. Nice line set-up, too. Keep the distance wide, force the attacker to search, then BANG. Kim’s acceleration and range make his long attacks on the march formidable, and there’s not many as could pull this off. However, as previously noted, Szilagyi’s blade speed is truly insane.

Video thanks to CyrusofChaos.

No margin for error: Szilagyi (HUN) v Montano (ITA)

This is a classy way to secure a World Championship medal. From the final bout in the Italy v Hungary quarterfinal in the men’s sabre teams at Kazan, between Aldo Montano and Aron Szilagyi:

Montano actually did pretty well in that bout, pulling off a 7/5 run with a string of almost identical stop hits. It’s a high risk maneuver, but Szilagyi seems to be extremely vulnerable to it. Here’s the first one, just to give the flavour. My advice to anyone likely to fence Szilagyi sometime soon would be to study closely.

The full match has been posted on our YouTube channel. The Hungarians play a very nice defensive game, setting up a ton of fall-shorts off the line. Seriously, I lost count. There’s the usual brutal 4m wrestling matches whenever Diego Occhiuzzi is up, but the rest of it is pretty clean.

There was lovely fencing here, and lovely fencing in the Bronze match against Russia. What happened in the semi against Korea, though, was something else entirely. We’ll take a look at it tomorrow.

Gambolling like a puppy: Won (KOR) v Rousset (FRA)

Regular readers may have noted that I’m quite fond of Won Wooyoung and his uniquely flashy style of sabre. His match from the round of 16 at the 2014 world champs was a perfect illustration. Having just upset the world #1, his confidence was high. He had Nicolas Rousset on the run from the first seconds of the bout, and had clearly decided that it was time to showcase some amazing stuff. I can’t just pick one. I really can’t. I always say that, but in this case it’s totally impossible.

It’s generally not a good sign when the first hit in a fight looks like this:

It’s not all bouncing and trick shots. There’s some really nice technical hits in here as well:

…and then there’s trick shots. Won is obviously taking the situation extremely seriously. Lovely to see his legendary draw cut being deployed.

Even his fails are pretty epic

There’s plenty more where that came from in the full match, which has just been posted on our YouTube channel. It’s short and punchy, well worth a look.

Highly entertaining, except possibly for  Rousset.

Of course if you want more Won Wooyoung, you should check this out if you haven’t already. So much joy.