The Leon Paul Evolution Grip, a handle for fencers which can be personalised and continuously evolved by athletes themselves, and the first product designed around sugru. The premise is a simple one: design a foil handle incomplete, where the athlete would add a specially developed form of sugru to build up the perfect customised grip. The pictures below show some of the first steps on the road to producing this new product. We started by grinding down existing handles to reduce the volume and then we applied sugru to them. This process helped us work out how we needed to modify the evolution handle to better accept the customisable sugru parts.
Through trials and dialogue with fencers, coaches and Olympic athletes including Bas Verwijlen (world No 1 epeeist) and James Davis (Team GB London 2012), it has now developed into something even more exciting. Rather than creating just more comfortable grips, athletes have instinctively started to manipulate and redesign the shape of the handle to help them in their game.
The grip consists of two components:
- The aluminium handle was developed based on a classic medium pistol (visconti) grip. It is made using a process called investment casting which is a world first for a fencing handle. the process is far more accurate than traditional sand casting and produces a stronger finished product with a better surface finish and finer details. The handle has recesses built into it in the areas where the fencer makes primary contact with the handle and it is these recesses that you fill and form to the shape of your own hand.
- The evolution of the handle to fit your hand is made possible by the magical product that is sugru. This is a specifically developed formula which is much softer and more grippy than regular sugru. You apply the sugru to the areas that you feel you need it and the sugru can be used to provide comfort, cushioning, grip and increased control over your weapon. sugru sticks very well to itself so it can be easily carved away or added to at a later date. Usually making the handle perfect for you is a two step process hence the name "evolution". You apply half the sugru first time, use the grip for a week or so and then go back to make improvements and adjustments as necessary. You can can keep evolving your handle as your needs develop or change making it work as hard as possible for your competitive advantage.
Standard sugru is perfect for a wide range of tasks and was a great starting point for the development of this product. It is a new self-setting rubber designed for fixing, modifying and improving your stuff. It is easy to use, has great durability and sets overnight to form a solid rubber.
Once we got the first prototypes of the product into athletes hands we realised that although standard sugru was great it was not quite perfect for the task. When standard sugru sets is is a bit too hard and without a lot of work to texture the handle it felt slightly slippy in a gloved hand.
So, Sugru set to work developing a softer more grippy product and in conjunction with the athletes created a special softener that you mix with the sugru to greatly improve the feel and grip of the handle. The softener comes as a separate sachet and can be mixed with the sugru in any ratio you desire so you can go all the way from a stock fairly hard sugru very soft almost spongy sugru.This was a revelation for the athletes and opened up a wealth of new possible design possibilities allowing them to go into great depth and really evolve their grip to make it unique and perfect for them.
Bas Verwijlen (Olympian Netherlands) It is so much fun to play with it and it helps you to perform better! When Alex Paul (LeonPaul) & James Carrigan (Sugru) showed me the super cool sugru I was very excited! I think sugru is a product that a lot of fencers where waiting for. Because there is no handle that fits perfect in a fencers palm, so a lot of people are using scotch or other products to customize their handles. But all this stuff will come off after a while. You will not have this problem with Sugru! You can apply it to the handle every way you like it and you can also take it off whenever you like it. I especially like the softer Sugru.
- Your thumb, index finger and middle finger are the most important fingers in fencing. So I gave them a lot of sugru and pressed my hand (while wearing a sticky LP glove) very firmly so the shape of my fingers are perfectly covered with Sugru. You can also make the little piece between your index finger and ring finger point more out for more grip and hold.
- I am a big fan of the parry six to the back! But most grips are too thin between your palm, pink & ringfinger. So than you have to squeeze harder to make the coupe or flick to the back. But with the soft Sugru applied at the lower part of the handle, you’ll see the coupe of flick to the back, shoulder of hand will go easier.
- The top part of the handle between your thumb and index finger is always to small, too thin and too short for me. sometimes I will get big blisters of using a too small handle. But as you can see I used Sugru not only to make it bigger but I also to extended the grip just a few millimeters to have better control during fencing.
- Always you will find a little space between the end of you thumb and your hand palm. I put a little ball of sugru there to give me more grip and comfort during a lesson or a match.
When I went to the Olympics I brought some extra Sugru just in case. So I got some problems with my new Olympic flip-flops and some Sugru did the trick!
Weight - 85g
Total length - 142mm
Total height - 93mm
The Evolution grip is based on a classic medium pistol (Visconti) grip with an extra 5mm added at the font. Special contact areas are integrated into the grip which is where we suggest that you first apply your sugru.
The Epee version of the Evolution handle is currently being examined by the FIE SEMI commission to decide if it is legal for top level FIE events. There is an FIE rule M.4.3 that prevents a covering on an epee pistol grip however; despite this many epeeists at top level events do use sports tape on their handles to improve grip and modify the shape of the handle.
The Mens gold medal at the London Olympics was won with a handle that had tape covering on it so it is generally accepted as OK even at the very highest level of competition. We are hopeful that Evolution handle will be fully approved but as it currently stands we are not certain that it will be approved for FIE use.