OK, so they were always going to lose horribly. But the Australian men’s sabre team at the 2014 Coupe Acropolis in Athens weren’t going to go down without a fight.
Happy Sunday, everyone!
Just to keep the flamewars lively, I’m going to throw in an epic hit every so often where all of the awesome fencing leads to a totally ambiguous outcome. This lovely exchange is from the round of 16 at the 2014 World Championships between Nicolas Limbach and Aron Szilagyi, and suffice to say it goes to video.
Work it out amongst yourselves.
So I was looking for counterparries for a little side-project I’ve got going on, and I stumble onto the bout between Kenta Tokunan and Veniamin Reshetnikov in the L16 team match between Japan and Russia at the 2014 World Champs. And damn, if almost every hit in that bout isn’t worth its own post. There’s an incredible 6-hit sequence which kicks off with this little beauty:
I’ll link the original HTML5 with speed controls, because you need it.
I think I have a new fencer to watch.
OK, I know I said no more Koreans, but this is Occhiuzzi’s hit. I also know he was putting on a spectacular display of poor sportsmanship through the entire bout, but this hit almost redeems it. Extra points come from the fact that Kim tried (and got away with) the exact same move at 14/14 against Montano in the previous round, but this time around he clearly neglected to correct for the age-and-guile factor. That counterparry: oh man.
Let me sing you the song of my people.
Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day
The trope of the chameleon character is as old as the oldest oldness in Old-onia. The idea that one begins as an ugly duckling, goes through a series of character building experiences and/or makeovers (usually established with a visual montage), and is then revealed at the end as a god or goddess of hotness upon the earth.
It’s a standard trope, a much used one; perhaps because it rings true with teen experience, or desire.
Either way, the subject is irrevocably changed, and can no longer exist as its former self if it wants to take advantage of its “new hotness” as Agent J would say.
And then…..then there are those who possess the ability to not only exist as their former selves, but also as their “new hotness”, and vacillate between the two as circumstance and desire dictate. Those who possess a facultative quality, a hotness that is capable of, but not restricted to existing within a single set of circumstances; or occurs optionally in response to circumstances rather than by nature. Who can walk like super-models, yet fight like thugs.
To that End:
An idle thought came to me the other day: sabre is a sport almost uniquely suited to GIFs. Exchanges almost universally take 5-15 seconds and frequently require multiple views to appreciate. I’ve been spamming people with time-specific YouTube links for a while, but GIFs are a much more elegant solution.
The series was in part inspired by Hot Fencer Of The Day, and in part by Andrew Fischl’s yearly Best Touches compilation. Unlike Andrew’s video, I’m putting a great deal of technical or tactical sophistication into my selections. Criteria are simple: the hit must either make me go WHOOOOAAAAAA, or laugh, or better yet both.
The series is running on Facebook under the tag #EpicSabreHit and on Twitter under @EpicSabre. Daily posts will be going up here, but we’ve got a bit of a backlog to start with. Here we go:
Let’s get this thing started off with a bang. Here’s an incredible, amazing, ridiculous hit from Apithy at the 2014 Moscow World Cup. Astonishing athleticism from both fencers. It’s got almost every flashy move in the sabre repertoire in one 5-second exchange. Wow.
Not all great sabre hits are flashy and athletic. Some are surprising, vicious trick shots, and they’re just as much fun to watch. Here’s a beauty from the 2014 Budapest Grand Prix:
In a nailbiting quarterfinal at the 2014 World Championships in Kazan, Kovalev’s balance and composure prompt a truly heroic display of athleticism from Montano. But is it enough to save him?
Not technically a hit at all, but one of my favourite points of all time. What good is sport if it can’t sometimes make you laugh?
This one’s from Junghwan Kim during the slightly one-sided team final at the 2014 Asian Championships. God I love this point. My entire goal as a sabreur now is to pull this one off.
Lest I get typecast as only being into vicious one-light trick shots and Gu Bongil falling over, here’s a legitimately beautiful hit from Daryl Homer at the 2014 Coupe Acropolis in Athens. Watch and learn, kids, this is how marching attack is done.
This one stars Sydney Sabre’s very own Donghwan Kim in the final at the 2014 Singapore International. I’m not sure even Donghwan expected to get away with this one, and that’s what makes it so great.
For today’s epic sabre hit, I set a crack team of researchers a daunting task: Find footage of the current world #1, Gu Bon Gil, scoring a point with something other than advance-lunge or counterattack. What they brought back was beautiful.
From the business end of the brutal semifinal between Gu and Yakimenko at the 2014 World Championships:
I just couldn’t resist this one. This is how you become world #1, apparently. Hey, whatever works.
Spoiler: the beast wins. Here’s two of my favourite fencers in the world, with Junghwan Kim doing what he does best. Crazy stuff.
Continuing the Korean theme ahead of sabre teams at Asian Games, here’s an incredible point from one of my favourite matches of all time. Starring Bolade Apithy and Eunseok Oh at the 2013 Chicago World Cup.
The whole match is here:
This one’s just here for the response from Gu. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Asian Games Champion.
To complete our Korean series before men’s sabre teams at Asian Games, here’s Won Wooyoung and the hit that made him 2010 World Champion. It’s got all his trademarks, right down to the sprint to the back when he wins. I’ll always have a soft spot for Won, who was the fencer who first made me pay attention to sabre.
From tomorrow, these will be daily. I promise, hand on heart, to not post another one of the Korean team for at least a week.
Or at least until I get video of the Gu v Kim final at Asian Games.
Sabreurs have a choice at the start line.
Two members of the Korean men’s sabre team, Gu Bon Gil and Kim Jung Hwan, use combos of unusual techniques to attack in the 4m without completely sacrificing the tactical flexibility of preparations.
Here’s a video:
The overall idea of these combos is to use a very direct long-range attack to beat (or match) the opponent’s preparation and defensive actions, then occasionally abort the attack with an aggressive check fall-short based on the cross-over. We’ll look at the attack in this post, and follow up on the fall short at a later date.
Gu Bon Gil regularly employs an attack which enables him to hit an opponent anywhere from the middle line to their start line during a single advance lunge, without requiring Gu to pick an attack distance prior to launch or make adjustments mid-air. The attack is composed of:
In case you didn’t watch the video, it looks something like this:
We’ll look at each component in turn.
The primary role of the advance is to give the fencer sufficient momentum to launch the lunge. The advance thus needs to be fast enough to impart momentum to the fencer but not so fast that it causes the fencer to lock up or hesitate prior to the lunge. We figure it’s probably around 80% power for most people.
The fencer needs to keep their weight and focus on driving through the back foot, minimalise weight on the front foot, stay upright and not lean forward. When done correctly, the advance looks like it ‘skims’ the ground with the front foot releasing for the lunge just as the back foot touches the ground at the end of the advance.
Should the fencer detect a hesitation or a retreat in their opponent during the advance, the fencer can extend their attack range by bringing their back foot all the way forward to their front foot before launching the lunge. This action can extend the attack range by another 1.0m -which will hit an opponent well behind their start line.
Alternatively, the fencer can ‘soft abort’ their attack by driving their back foot softly into the ground at the end of the advance to convert their lunge into an advance lunge. We recommend this option over the long lunge because it gives the fencer more control during the attack, more opportunities for feints and other preceding actions, and greater range. However, conversion from lunge to advance lunge may not be possible if the opponent’s action is well-disguised or late.
The lunge is long and direct. Its range is around 50% more than a lunge from standing position. This extra power comes from the momentum of the preceding advance. The fencer must therefore avoid any deceleration of their attack during the transition from advance to lunge. As noted earlier, Gu efficiently transitions from advance to lunge by keeping his weight off the front foot and releasing it as soon as his back foot touches the ground.
A good advance lunge has a characteristic tempo signature of 1-2…pause…3, or “bada…boom”, from the advance…lunge.
Gu’s blade actions are direct but have flexibility to disengage to different targets during the lunge to deceive the opponent’s parries without being called as preparations.
The first attack is a flat cut to the opponent’s flank (assuming same handed opponent). This flank cut is designed to hit an opponent that advance-lunges, in their arm or flank, early in the lunge. The cut is flat to whipover the opponent’s guard if it comes in the same line of the attack.
If the opponent hesitates, usually because they are preparing and/or looking for the parry, Gu disengages his flank cut to hit flat on the belly. He sometimes replaces this with a cutover to chest. Either way, the chest/belly cut hits during the mid to late phase of the lunge and is highly angulated and flat to hit through the opponent’s parry.
All of the actions described above are done while Gu is still in mid-air. If the opponent manages to retreat out of range of these attacks, Gu remises his disengage-belly-hit to the high line. This remise looks like an attack to head…but it’s only a feint. The real hit occurs as Gu lands his front foot for the lunge and is either a belly or flank cut, depending on opponent’s hand position.
Gu’s attack combo is very effective at hitting the opponent while maintaining priority across most situations in the 4m. The only way for an opponent to win is to either take parry in the 4m – risky – or retreat both late and so quickly that Gu misses the attack. In the latter case, the opponent will almost always be so off-balance and distant that Gu can mount an effective defense.
Work on your parries.
Although there’s always the chance this will happen.
The net effect is that the opponent is left with very few options other than to attack every time in the hope that they get a lucky attack or the simultaneous.
Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day
In an age of prolific visual stimuli, from selfies to snapchat, high end to low res, it was only a matter of time until Evidence Based Hotness Theory came to discussing the state of being photogenic. To define: A subject is photogenic if appearing aesthetically attractive or appealing in photographs.
The state of being photogenic may or may not be related to one’s physical attractiveness in real life. Models are usually described as photogenic. The bone structure of their faces may represent something that is not generally pretty, but when photographed, their features can turn into something that is physically attractive.
However, attractive people are not always photogenic, in that part of their attractiveness may be due to charisma. The way they move, express, carry themselves. While this will positively influence the subjective appearance of that person in real life, a still photograph generally fails to reproduce these attributes, possibly contributing to classify that person as less photogenic.
And then we come up against someone who bucks both trends in being both photogenic and charismatic. It could be posited that these people emit a light of their own, a phosphorescence of hotness in the physical and subjective plane. A photogenesis, if you will. No matter which way you see them, speak with them, observe them, there is not an iteration of them which does not appear to be hot.
Offered without further comment*:
*obviously that’s just a turn of phase. I am always going to have comments
Guest post from the team at Hot Fencer Of The Day
In the land of Evidence Based Hotness Theory, it’s mostly always sunshine and lollipops (and daybeds and erlenmeyer flasks…..what?!?!) I mean, how could it not be? We are doing ground breaking research in to the science of hotness (SCIENCE!!!), we are on the cutting edge of theoretical exploration in this area, and may be the only scientists in the world applying this theory to Fencers. We have peer review (true) and government grants!(possibly untrue). It is an exciting time to be alive! It’s also an exciting time to be saying “forsooth!!”, but we try and do that all the time, so we shan’t focus on that today.
So what is happening today in this magical, magical land of science? Well………