Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fencing Hints from Maestro Arthur Lane

Last year in autumn, my epee fencing master from my California days, Maestro Lane, drove up to Seattle from the Bay Area to visit his son and was kind enough to have dinner with me at Ivar's Salmon House and then to spend the evening at the club showing me how fleches work after doing combination footwork, either by advance or retreat followed by a ballestra lunge. He then coached my technique by providing excellent examples of his footwork tempo and lunge.

Afterwards we drove to his son's house in Kent where we spent the rest of the night and early hours of the evening discussing fencing. Eventually I became tired and had to excuse myself to go home and sleep. The following morning Art called me up, thanked me for dinner and the tour of the club, and said he regretted not being able to spend more time with me because he wanted to drive down to Ashland, Oregon, and see a lady friend and catch a play.

I was very happy to have seen him and had taken great delight in introducing Art to the Friday night crowd at the club. I don't think the fencers there realized, at least until I told them, that they were shaking the hand of a man who had shook hands with Aldo Nadi. Not to mention Hans Halberstadt. Art, in his mid-80s teaches at the Pacific Fencing Club, now in Alameda, and previously in downtown Oakland on 14th St., where I learned to fence foil under Maestro Harold Hayes. Art had learned to fence under Eric Funke, refined his tactics under Hans Halberstadt, and learned to spar by bouting with Helene Mayer. After the war, Art lived in southern California and studied under Aldo Nadi and, secretly, under Ralph Faulkner. I consider Art an incredible fencing resource, and if the U.S. were similar to the Japanese, Art would've been declared a national cultural treasure many years ago.

Art shared some of his fencing tips with me. They are:
1. When teaching tempo, use a three tempo exercise and always go forward.
2. Being alert is seeing ahead, thinking about what may happen next keeps you from being alert.
3. One may practice 1000 parry 4s, but a good parry 4 is one that has a riposte.
4. Most people parry 4 with two bones, upper first. Nadi parried with lower bone.
5. An early parry is done two inches, not two feet, more forward.
6. Beginners aren't prime-cut steaks, they're hamburgers with everything on it; so, if you prolong a feint on a beginner, beginners react with everything they have!


Eiranai said...

4. - what bones? explain

P.S. There was a guy who was killed fencing last month in Japan.

Mitch Kief said...

Parry 4s from the shoulder and biceps are too wide and result in overparrying and vulnerability to feints. Advice was to parry from forearm and let the wrist follow and rotate with the forearm. There's also a little in joke buried in there revolving around Aldo Nadi's habit of using his elbow to parry and protect his 8th line. Nadi never taught it or mentioned it in his books, and Art might be one of the few fencers left who actually saw Nadi fence.

How did the fencer die? Haven't heard anything over here (don't forget, here in the U.S. of A., there's not too much news about the rest of the world (mainly because there's no interest for it ). Paris riot s are slowly making the news, after one week of fires and rampaging.

Mitch Kief said...

Now that I think about, Art claims that not only did Nadi parry using his forearm, but he did it with his radius bone (the lower of the lower bone).

Eiranai said...

That`s what I kind of guessed.

About the fencer that died, not really sure what happened cause it was in Japanese. I think it was a broken blade through the torso, but not a competition though, of course.