Rule regarding Epee Inside Guard Sockets.

The FIE Congress made a new rule regarding Epee Inside Guard Sockets, so if you are an Epee fencer who competes at FIE competitions this post applies to you, please read carefully.

The new rule is as follows:

Epee Guard Sockets – NEW – Application 2020-2021 Season m.18.3 The socket inside the epee guard must have two separate holes in the block, so that the two wires can be passed through the block separately and then connected to the terminals.

The rule is quite self-explanatory, but the images below show what is and isn’t acceptable under this ruling.

The reason for this new rule is due to allegations of fencers tampering with their weapon during a fight. A person could appeal to having a faulty weapon during a fight when a double hit did not register for them, and then “possibly” detach the internal wire with their thumb, before presenting the weapon for testing, therefore annulling their opponents point.

The rules surrounding annulment of hits in epee are as followed, with a fencer’s interpretation of how the rules are being applied in competitions currently underneath each section.

-t.93     In arriving at his judgement, the Referee will disregard hits which are registered as a  result of actions:     
– caused by the meeting of the points of the épées or by a hit made on the ground   where it is not insulated.

(1) Tip to Tip hits and floor hits should be annulled, at the judgement of the referee.

-t.94     The Referee must take note of possible failures of the electrical equipment and must annul the last hit registered in the following circumstances:

           1 If a hit made on the guard of the competitor against whom the hit was registered or  on the conductive piste causes the apparatus to register a hit;

           2 If a hit properly made by the competitor against whom the hit was registered does not cause the apparatus to register a hit;

      3 If the apparatus fortuitously registers a hit on the side of the competitor against whom the hit was registered, for example, after a beat on the blade, by any  movements of his opponent, or as a result of any cause other than a properly made hit;

           4 If the registering of a hit made by the competitor against whom the hit was registered is annulled by a subsequent hit made by his opponent.
5 Special cases
– If a double hit is registered and one hit is valid and the other is not valid (such as a hit made on some surface other than on the opponent (cf. t.93.1) or a hit made after leaving the piste (cf. t.33ss), only the valid hit is scored.
– If a double hit is registered by an established hit and a doubtful hit (failure of the electrical apparatus, cf. t.93) the fencer who has made the established hit may choose to accept the double hit or ask to have it annulled.

(1) If a point registers on the guard or the conductive piste, the hit must be annulled.

(2) If a both fencers hit but one fencer’s equipment doesn’t register due to technical fault, the hit must be annulled.

(3) If the fencer’s equipment registers a hit improperly, i.e. goes off when blade is beaten, the hit must be annulled.

(4) If both fencers hit but one fencer equipment doesn’t register due to technical fault, then that fencer makes and subsequent hit i.e. to floor or foot, the hit must stand.

– If two fencers hit but one fencer’s hit is valid and the other is not valid i.e. the fencer is off the piste or hits off the piste, only the valid hit must stand.
– If two fencers hit but one fencer’s hit is valid and the other is doubtful i.e. possible ground hit, the fencer with the valid hit can decide whether to accept the double or annul both hits.

t.95      The Referee must also apply the following rules regarding the annulment of hits:
            1 If the incidents mentioned in Article t.94 occur as a result of the competitor’s  body wire being unplugged (either near the hand or at the back of the fencer), they cannot justify the annulment of the hit registered. However, if the safety device prescribed by Article m.55.4 is missing or not functioning, the hit should be annulled if the plug at the fencers back has become unplugged.

            2 The fact that the épée of a competitor has large or small areas of insulation formed by oxidation, by glue, paint or any other material on the guard, on the blade or   elsewhere, on which his opponent’s hits can cause a hit to be signalled, or that the electric tip is badly fixed to the end of the blade so that it can be unscrewed or tightened by hand, cannot justify the annulment of hits registered against that  competitor.

           3 If a competitor tears the conductive piste by a hit made on the ground and, at the same time, the apparatus registers a hit against his opponent, the hit must be  annulled.

(1) If any of the incidents from article t.94 are caused due to the fencer’s body wire coming out at either end, the opponents hit should stand. Unless the body wire comes out due to the failure of the safety clip on the spool.

(2) If any of the incidents from article t.94 are caused due to fencers’ equipment being kept in poor condition i.e. oxidation/glue/paint on the guard, the opponents hit should stand.

(3) If the competitor tears the piste and the hit registers, the hit must be annulled

This means that due to rule -t.94 (2) the fencer was able to get their opponents hit annulled based on the fact that their failure to score a point was classed under technical fault. Also, due to the fact that within article -t.95 there is no rule stating incidents caused by internal wires coming out, the opponents hit should stand. Only a rule stating that if the fencers bodywire comes out, the opponents should stand. There is nothing to prevent the hit being annulled if the referee does not see the wire tampering take place.

This means that after the Olympics, all Epee sockets will need to have two holes in them for the wires to pass through, for all FIE events. This prevents people pulling the wires and prevents people connecting the wires or shorting them inside the socket as the wires have their own individual channel.

We will make our version transparent which makes mounting the weapon easier, and so people can be sure you are winning through skill and not by electronic trickery.

Coming soon.

A Mask Strap Hack

I was thinking about how fencers could repurpose items of equipment to make any face covering mask fit better and be easy to take on and off one handed. I came up with this great hack, check out the video below:

Basically, you can take the Contour-fit plus strap off your existing fencing mask and attach it to your face mask. It can then be adjusted to reduce pressure on your ears and make it fit better especially under your chin.

As the clasp is magnetic, it is easy to do up behind your head and you can the mask one handed, which is useful if you want to hold open a bag to place it in before washing.

If you don’t have a strap already and want to buy one, they can be purchased seperatly here

Ben Paul

Learning at Leon Paul

Seven months on from the start of my nine-month placement at Leon Paul and I can honestly say I have learnt so much. The degree I’m studying at Nottingham Trent University is Sport Engineering, so being part of the Product Development Team here has been the perfect application of my studies. A lot of what I had been learning in my first two years at university were the fundamentals, the science behind why things happen, this included some applied practice but typically not sport specific. So being here and seeing what I have learnt being applied to existing products, using the techniques and equipment myself to create my own designs, has been exciting and rewarding. In addition, the work environment has allowed me to develop my communication skills, through research and sourcing, I have built relationships with suppliers. Working within a close team has also enabled me to get a holistic feel for the whole business and is another reason why this placement has been so valuable to my degree and my personal development.

It’s always hard putting yourself in a completely new environment. So, leading up to my move to London, on my own, living the furthest I have from home, for my first full-time job, it’s fair to say I was genuinely nervous. This move was a big step for me, but my personal growth has been huge; the support and opportunities I have received have made the whole experience a lot less daunting. I finally have a much clearer idea of the career path I would like to pursue after university, with a great network of colleagues who have supported and advised me over my time working here.

I am now looking forward to going back to university with a deeper understanding of the content, and with new ideas, for my final year project. Before I leave my placement here, I hope to write another blog post on what I plan to base my final year project on and the concepts around it. Ben Paul has been really forthcoming with ideas and advice; I will just need a solid plan for the assignment, ensuring I can meet the criteria, then I can acquire confirmation from my lecturers and start the project.

Unfortunately, due to the current unprecedented events, everything has been thrown a bit in the air, creating constant speculation of what the rest of the year brings. One certainty is that I have had an amazing opportunity to learn and create, which I will continue to do, developing the skills that I can, from wherever I am. If not this year, then maybe in 2021, there could be some products being sold that I worked on as part of a placement project. Perhaps a bag, a chest protector or glove, I’ll say no more.

I don’t have many photos of me working here at Leon Paul, but here is a short time-lapse of some reverse engineering I completed earlier in my placement, and yes that just means taking a product apart, there is a logical reason I promise.


Not running the London Marathon, yet…

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was due to run the London Marathon at the end of the month (April 2020). Due to the COVID19 Pandemic, all major sporting events have been cancelled in the UK and around the world. This blog was going to give you an update on my progress with a view to my race in just under four weeks time, however it’s more an update on what my plans are now.

I started the training process by selecting the Asics 3hr, 16-week program and kicked off the day after my 39th birthday. I was in fairly good shape after some tough races over the holiday period and the first 6 weeks went really well including a new personal best at the Headcorn Half Marathon in Kent. It took place in the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced. It was raining sideways at the start and the course was flooded in places. My wife, Emily, won the women’s race in a new course record as we crossed the line together looking like a pair of drown rats. The prize for setting a new women’s course record was a free breakfast which she kindly donated to me. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a bacon, egg and sausage sandwich!

Being a former athlete, I like to have structure in my life. I still keep a training diary and have the training plan pined above my desk at work. I overwrite in red the sessions as a general record and a tool to keep motivated. After all, no athlete likes a blank page in their training dairy. My 12 day trip to Poreč, Croatia, to be part of the DT at the European Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships didn’t cause any disruption to the program as feared. As I’ve written about in another blog, the DT team were all very accommodating and we had a rota so I was able to carry on and complete long runs along the picturesque Croatian coastline.

In summary, everything was going very well into month 3. There were rumours with the escalating virus issues and major events had started to be postponed or cancelled but, as athletes all over the world have to do, until the official line came, you carry on as normal. I completed a 20 mile race in week 9 and then a slightly easier week 10 saw it end with another Half Marathon race. The London Marathon was officially postponed on Friday 13th March and the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon likely to be the last race taking place for a while. I decided to run this one out with a full effort and see where I was at fitness wise. I lined up at the start with 2,886 other hardy soles and set off at 9am on the dot.

I completed the course is another personal best of 1:20:25 finishing 15th overall. This was very pleasing as it was well inside my target of 82 minutes and the time is well under what a sub 3 hr marathon runner should expect.

I was a little unsure what to do with my training now. I needn’t have worried, 4 days letter I was out on what should have been a 9 mile progress run when I felt my hamstring tighten up 3 miles in. I jogged slowly home and took a few days off. With no marathon to train for and increasingly tightening controls on being able to leave the house I was upset at this set back but saved from the worry and hassle of having to train through an injury in an attempt to keep my mileage up.

A graph produced from my Garmin running app shows the increase in volume from just over 100 miles per month to well over 200 miles per month, that mixed with the half marathon done at 6:09 minute mile pace was probably too much for my old legs! Have noted this for next time.

As a side note, how did runners ever train without Garmin watches, the Strava app and iPods? I love to listen to a podcast or audiobook on a long run, it’s like my little treat when I’m not running with a group. If you want to connect with me via Strava, please feel free to add me, I’m the Jon Willis in London with a photo of me as a fencer. I tend to be a little mean with my kudos but if I give you some it’s because I think you really deserve it.

As I nurse my hamstring back to health, I’ve dropped the mileage and intensity of the running and discovered the world of virtual cycling on a program called ‘Zwift’. I’ve hooked my bike up to a turbo and in turn to my computer. I can now ride in a very realistic virtual world with my friends and complete strangers alike! It’s obviously not as good as the real thing but it’s infinitely better than sitting on an exercise bike in the gym. So far I’ve ridden around London, New York and the made up world of Watopia on virtual group rides with members of my running club. It’s a great way to exercise from home and the ideal way to keep fit in the current climate.

Finally, back to the subject of this blog. I won’t be running the London Marathon this year. In all likely hood I’ll be busy during October when hopefully the fencing world has return to normal. I will therefore defer my entry to April 2021 and keep my fundraising page open for another year.

With all things being well and with another year of running under my belt I’m going to change my target time. For this year I had a target of sub 3:15, I’m going to change that and go for a target of sub 3hrs in 2021. The directors of Leon Paul want me to run the marathon in full fencing kit… I’m not to sure about that one personally but if anyone wants to make a ridiculously large donation to my sponsorship page I could be persuaded…

Leon Paul are generously donating a Three Weapon Wireless set and a £100 Leon Paul Voucher as prizes for a draw to help raise money. Anyone who sponsors me via my ‘gofundme’ page and types the word FENCING! in the comment after donating will be entered into the draw which will be done on Wednesday 28th April 2021. You get 1 ticket for every multiple of £5 donated, so if you sponsor me £20 that’s 4 tickets! Anyone who has already sponsored me, thank you very much and don’t worry, your entries will be carried forward to the draw next year.


DT, Run, Sleep, Repeat – Life on the Directoire Technique

The 2020 European Cadet & Junior Fencing Championships took place in Poreč, Croatia, during the backend of February and start of March this year. I was selected as one of the 5 DT members for the 10 days of competition. It felt like a nice follow up to being part of the DT for the European U23 Championships in Plovdiv last year.

Andras Szetey from Hungary was President of the DT. It’s his job to create the timetable and is ultimately he is the guy in charge of the competition. It was decided that Lena Tallroth-Kock from Finland and myself would be in charge of one weapon per day while Julius Kralik of the Czech Republic helped with operations in DT. The local DT member, Mirna Borosak, was officially the liaison between the DT and the local organising committee but she got her hands dirty running the competition with us on top of her other duties.

Every DT functions in a slightly different way. There is no exact formula to follow with every DT President having his or her own way of doing things. Everyone who has worked with me at any point over the last 7 years know exactly how I like to run my ship. My regular referees and now increasingly the fencers, parents & coaches know where to be at what time and there is very little margin for error on my timetables. There certainly isn’t time to go Starbucks between the poules and DE’s rounds!

Andras is a man after my own heart who sets very challenging timetables. For example he scheduled the men’s foil poules to start at 9am and the first flight of incomplete L128 to start at 11am. That’s 2 hours to get a foil poule of 7 done, the results in, checked and then the first flight of DE out and stated. I’ll admit now that I didn’t think it would be possible, however being the new guy on the team, it’s not my place to question the boss, my job was to make it happen.

Once the referee delegate had handed out the scoresheets to the referees my job was to walk the floor and make sure the fencers got to their piste in time to have their control marks checked by the referees and be ready to fence 5mins before the scheduled start time. At this level, most the athletes know the set up and we managed to start bang on time. I spent the rest of the poules walking around the field of play on hand to sort out any issues. One nice little trick was to photograph a the last finished poule sheet and ‘WhatsApp’ it back to DT so they could get the result into the computer quicker. Every second counts with a demanding timetable.

Amazingly we did it! The incomplete round of L128 started at 11am. The competition ran ahead of schedule and because there was no live TV for the finals we could bring the start time of the finals forward. This is better for all concerned including the fencers competing the following day and especially the officials who have to work the ten days straight.

Ten days in a row is tough, especially when you have to be there from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, you are pretty much looking at 12hour days for DT members. I was thrilled when I received my invitation to the championships but was worried that fell right in the middle of my marathon training program. I was chasing a fast time at London Marathon, somewhere around or ideally below, the 3 hour mark. Ten to twelve days of little or no running was going to make that a much tougher challenge than it already is. I apricate at the time of writing this that events have overtaken us so marathon training is no longer an issue with the cancellation of all major sporting events due to COVID19 but I wasn’t to know that at the time.

I needn’t have worried. The DT team where very accommodating and we actually took turns to have some mornings or afternoons off. The days when I was in charge of Men’s Sabre, I managed to do my long run on the morning with the poules not starting until 12 O’clock. I completed a total of 9 training runs and cover just over 94miles (150km) whilst in Poreč. I have written in a previous blog how much I enjoy running because I can switch off from thinking about work and just enjoy the podcast or audiobook I’m listening to at the time. Despite it being physically demanding, I think the running helped keep me mentally fresh.

The whole experience was very positive, it was the biggest Cadet and Junior European Championships yet and with the very positive DT President, we manged to finish ahead of schedule every day.  My favourite complement came from the French delegation who said the whole event had a ‘favourable ambiance’, high praise indeed from the French!  The DT team would like to take all the credit for this, but a competition is only as good as its referees and volunteers.  I don’t think I’ve worked with a better group, everyone was fantastic from the referees to the small children carrying the bags to the pistes.  It was great to catch up with some old friends as well as make many new ones as well.

The biggest perk of the job, apart from getting to cut the lunch queue, was that I could go anywhere on the field of play.  I got to pretty much stand piste side and watch some of the best young fencers in the world doing what they do best.  I was also asked to present Carolina Stutchbury of Great Britain her bronze medal in the Cadet Women’s Foil.  It’s always nice when your home nation wins a medal and you get to share in a tiny part of the celebrations.

In summary, I learnt a lot from the experience with the big takeaway being that you can achieve the same result, running an efficient competition, in different ways.  I have a few new ideas of how to improve fencing events in the UK and hopefully, if I’m asked to take part in more International events, can use my experience to help run major championships better as well.


Fencing medals have been awarded since the 18th century when fencing masters began presenting engraved silver medal prizes to the winners of annual tournaments at schools where they taught. This practice continued into the second half of the 19th century, as shown by a Scottish silver oval pendant inscribed Messrs Foucart’s Fencing Class, 1st Prize, Master W Taylor, Glasgow Academy, Session 1856-7 [Fig. 1].

Fig. 1

Then in the last quarter of the 19th century the French revival of the cast medal as an art form led to the design of prominent figures on medals. In Britain the first fencer to be recognised in this way was the Frenchman Baptiste Bertrand (1811-1898), who founded his own salle d’armes in 1852 and went on to establish a dynasty of three generations of fencing masters. In 1889 he appeared on a 72 mm diameter bronze medal by a French artist working in London, Edouard Lanteri [Fig. 2].

Fig. 2

Another rare medal of a fencer, designed by Sir George Frampton (1860-1928), was cast in 1896 to commemorate Henry Arthur Colmore-Dunn [Fig. 3]. A member of the London Fencing Club, Colmore-Dunn (1859-1896) was a barrister and author of the popular pocket manual, Fencing, which was first published in 1889 and continued in print until 1931. He died of typhoid on a ship bound for South Africa aged just 37.

Fig. 3

The production of fine art medals was stimulated by the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. What made precisely depicted scenes possible was the reducing machine, which allowed sculptors to model on a large scale while still achieving the effect of fine detail when their work was reduced. The first artist to take full advantage of the new technology was Jules-Clément Chaplain (1839-1909), an exceptional portraitist who brought animation and realism to his compositions. His design for an Olympic medal (silver for first place and bronze for second, nothing for third – only in 1904 did gold, silver and bronze medals start to be awarded) shows a portrait of Zeus with a globe supporting a metaphorical figure of the goddess of victory (Nike) holding a laurel branch [Fig. 4], while the reverse shows the Acropolis inscribed Olympic Games Athens 1896. When the English epee team were runners-up at the Interim Olympics in Athens 10 years later, they received the same medal with the year changed.

Fig. 4

As the artistic hub of Europe, Paris had enveloped Art Nouveau from its beginning in the early 1890s. Providing a natural link between painting and sculpture, medallists played an important part in the new movement. The spread of Art Nouveau culture resulted in a surge of interest in medallic sculpture, created by such artists as Frédéric Vernon (1858-1912), whose design of a foilist in the early 1890s, left hand on hip holding a mask [Fig. 5], became the first fencing art medal to become widely available. Vernon also designed the winged goddess medal awarded to the athletes filling the first three places at each event in the 1900 Olympics.

Fig. 5

These Games were a minor adjunct to the Paris Exposition Universelle. Many athletes didn’t even know that the events they competed in were part of the Olympics. But all participants received a plaquette as a souvenir of both the Games and the Expo [Fig. 6] designed by Louis-Oscar Roty (1846-1911), who revived the tradition of working in a rectangular format. In entering the epee tournament, Charles Newton-Robinson, founder of the Epee Club, and Josiah Bowden, British vice-consul in Paris, became the first two British fencers to take part in an Olympic Games; also fencing for GB in the masters’ foil event was Eugène Plisson.

Fig. 6

Two years later the fencing equipment suppliers Souzy & de Lacam commissioned the Russian-born artist Félix Rasumny (1869-1940) to design another early fencing medal – an epeeist holding weapon and mask, with two smaller figures of fencers in the background [Fig. 7]. It was offered in five versions: bronze, silvered bronze, gilded bronze, silver and gold, the last costing 100 times more than the first.

Fig. 7

In May 1904 the first official British epee team took part in the Coupe Internationale in Paris. To commemorate the meeting, the French team, Les Armes de France, presented all participants with a silver gilt plaquette by Jules Desbois (1851-1935) showing the naked figure of victory holding the symbols of triumph – palm branches and a laurel wreath – with assorted weapons at her feet [Fig. 8]. Later that year the British epee team that came second in Ostend received one of the best known Art Nouveau designs, Orpheus at the Gates of Hell [Fig. 9] by Lucien Coudray (1864-1932).

Fig. 8 | Fig. 9

At the London Olympic Games of 1908, the commemorative medal by the Australian-born sculptor Sir Bertram Mackennal (1863-1931) showed Nike standing on a globe, holding a palm branch and a horn, the reverse showing a triumphant winner driving a chariot [Fig. 10]. Mackennal went on to design the Coronation medal for King George V and produced the king’s head design for all George V coinage.

Fig. 10

The popularity of art medals as prizes quickly grew and Souzy’s 1908 catalogue was able to illustrate six different fencing scenes, each available in five sizes and five treatments. One of the most attractive was a rectangular plaquette by Coudray showing two young foilists in a woodland setting, while a group of five fencing masters in the background discuss their technique [Fig. 11].

Fig. 11

Another popular design, offered as a medal or plaquette, showing a fencer flexing a foil, with two smaller figures saluting in the background [Fig. 12], was executed by the sculptor Adolphe Rivet (1855-1925), who produced busts and statues as well as medals.

Fig. 12

An artist deeply involved in the fencing world at this time was Ernesta Robert-Merignac, daughter of the fencing master and author Georges Robert and wife of Emile Merignac, who wrote a major treatise on the history of fencing. Robert-Merignac became a medal engraver at the Mint in 1903 and received the sculpture prize at the 1911 Salon des Femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs. Specialising in rectangular plaquettes, she produced a number of charming fencing scenes. One, entitled Le Salut Des Armes, shows two foilists performing the Grand Salute with an Angelo-style 18th c. fencer holding a tricorn hat on the reverse [Figs 13 & 14]. Another, entitled La Lecon D’Armes, depicts a master and pupil [Fig. 15].

Fig. 13 | Fig. 14
Fig. 15

Fencing medals were not the exclusive preserve of French sculptors. The prolific Belgian medallist Godefroid Devreese (1861-1941), whose portrait of Albert I of Belgium appeared on the 50 centimes coin of 1912, designed a handsome plaquette showing a 16th century swordsman on one side [Fig. 16] and an early 20th century epeeist on the other [Fig. 17]. In the early years of the 20th century, the Swiss medallist Henri Huguenin (1879-1920) produced a profile of a bearded epeeist [Fig. 18] and a design of two epeeists in action, the defender making a vigorous parry of seconde [Fig. 19].

Fig. 16 | Fig. 17
Fig. 17 | Fig. 18

An attractive Art Nouveau medal commissioned by the Epee Club was produced by the Birmingham silversmiths Elkington & Co. It shows the winged figure of Victory holding a laurel wreath over a pair of crossed epees [Fig. 20]. This design is presented at Epee Club events to this day.

Fig. 20

In the 1920s the French medallist Edouard Fraisse (1880-1945) produced a medal showing two of his countryman’s most successful foilists – double Olympic champion Luicen Gaudin parrying three-times Olympic silver medallist Philippe Cattiau [Fig. 21].

Fig. 21

In 1925 the first medal to show a woman fencer was made by the Birmingham silversmith William Dingley [Fig. 22] to honour Britain’s Olympic silver medallist of 1924, Gladys Davis.

Fig. 22

Three years later Lord Desborough (1855-1945), President of the AFA 1911-26, presented the London Fencing Club with a challenge trophy – an 18-inch high silver statuette by the sculptor and armourer Felix Joubert of the club’s foil coach, Jean-Baptiste Mimiague, to mark his 10 years’ service,. Each year the winner received a 60 mm diameter silver medal [Fig. 23], also made by Joubert.

Fig. 23

But Art Nouveau could not capture the driving sense of modernity in post-war Europe, when simple angular and geometric motifs, implying strength and vigour, started to be used on medals. The greatest influential force for stylistic change was the 1925 Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, from which the name Art Deco derives. Edouard Chassaing (1895-1974), who was awarded two gold medals at the Expo, designed a striking fencing medal of muscular naked bodies, the obverse showing two male epeeists [Fig. 24] and the reverse a female epeeist [Fig. 25]. Another notable Art Deco medallist was Francois André Clemencin (1878-1950) whose unusual bronze plaquette shows two epeeists at close quarters [Fig.26].

Fig. 24 | Fig. 25
Fig. 26

In the late 1920s the AFA introduced a 50 mm diameter medal for championships and honours that was to be the standard fencing award for more than 40 years. It showed the Tudor rose surrounded by laurels with crossed epees inscribed Amateur Fencing Association [Fig. 27], the reverse showing a crossed foil and sabre. But after the second world war the spread of regional competitions created a need for many more awards, leading the AFA to introduce another design in a cheaper metal and only 45 mm in diameter showing two sabreurs in action [Fig. 28], which gradually replaced the earlier medal.

Fig. 27 | Fig. 28

A photograph of British foil champion Emrys Lloyd (left) and Jean Buhan fencing at the 1948 Olympic Games was used by the French medallist Georges Contaux (1891-1984) as the basis for his medal of the two of them in action [Fig. 29].Contaux was a prolific medal maker, producing nearly 900 sports medals over a period of 50 years.

Fig. 29

In the mid-1950s Edouard Fraisse joined forces with another French engraver, Henri Demey (1888-1966), to produce a number of sport-themed medals under the name Fraisse Demey. They designed the first medal to show electric fencing [Fig. 30]. By then the golden age of the fencing art medal was drawing to a close.

Fig. 30

Finding the Fashion in Fencing

Fencing and fashion have often gone together in the past, for instance, just a few years ago Dior made a whole collection based on fencing kit. So, when one of our own James Honeybone was asked not only to walk in London Fashion Week but also to supply fencing kit for the sustainable brand VIN + OMI, we knew that this was different than the rest. VIN + OMI don’t just make clothes, they create fashion made from anything recycled in order to show the world that we don’t have to create unnecessary waste. In the past they have made clothes from old paint tubes to nettles from HRH Prince Charles estate, and here at Leon Paul we are always looking for new ways we can be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

James being a fencer and Olympian himself, he already had a lot of old fencing kit lying around that was just gathering dust, and so adding that to some kit here at Leon Paul that was unable to be sold (factory seconds or incorrectly named) the designers got to work creating their masterpiece. A month of hard work from the team at VIN + OMI and it was time for the show, and we finally got to see what had become of our kit.

As you can see the fencing kit has been completely transformed into something new and incredibly striking, proving that old can become new once again. As for what has been done with the old fencing kit, just to give some examples:

  • Broken blades have been heated with blowtorches, then contorted to arc around the shoulders whilst being attached to a metal plate on the back of a Foil lame
  • The Foil lame became an inner waistcoat to a Sabre lame, which was then pierced through the back and shoulders by the broken blades
  • Epee guards were modified and then attached down the front of the Sabre lame to be a shocking centrepiece
  • Two masks had their bibs, inner padding and fittings removed and were then carefully tailored and fixed to the Sabre lame to become fitted shoulder pads
  • Multiple pairs of breeches and jackets were tailored, dyed and customised using many different methods
  • Two chest plates have been combined with frilled bits of lame material to create a shoulder pad and side panel incorporated to a plastron

We love how the clothing turned out, it’s a truly unique and new way of looking at fencing kit, and a great way of promoting sustainability within fashion. 

Thank you to James who donated his fencing kit and Team GB clothes, and a huge thank you to VIN + OMI, we are so proud to have been able to collaborate with such an influential brand.

If you would like to see more of VIN + OMI’s work then you can find it here:

No More Black Boxes

Here are a few updates on our drive to become plastic free and to have all packaging either made from fully recycled material or be fully recyclable.

We were very proud of our updated packing in 2012, we came up with a nice design that was a matt black with a white Leon Paul logo. They looked great and were the same price as our old packaging. However, it turns out that by adding the black not only does your packaging become non-recyclable in 80% of facilities but also, it uses dyes that detrimentally effect the environment. Therefore, no more black boxes! We have moved to a new box made from 100% recycled cardboard and we found a clever design that means we now don’t need any plastic straps to hold the box shut or any plastic tape. Tape is terrible for recycling and uses glue and plastic in all the worst ways. The new clever interlocking design means the box uses no tape and no plastic, even when fully closed and secure.

We have now moved all our mask packaging to a compostable material, so clothing and mask packaging are now all fully compostable or recyclable.

Our bags for our retail outlets are now made of recycled paper, these can be recycled or reused for shopping. If you can use a paper bag 4 times it becomes one of the more environmentally friendly ways of transporting new purchases.

Our new bags for transporting blades and weapons from our retail outlets are made from sugar cane – a recyclable and carbon neutral product. It would be nice if we could carry our fencing weapons openly on the London underground, but unfortunately people might call the police, so we have to wrap all the weapons we sell face to face in something. These new bags seem the most responsible way we can find currently.

NEXT – To come in next following months

  • Compostable small packaging for weapons parts
  • Air brush customisation – This will allow us to change to a non-toxic paint and to reduce the number of paint cans used

A little history and some cool images.

If you are a regular reader of our blog you may have noticed that we have a small team of very dedicated people at Leon Paul and some excellent outside contributors. We are always looking for ways and means of creating new and interesting content and we thought, for the curios amongst you, this would be a good time for a little behind the scenes look at a small part of our content creation process.

In a recent meeting in our London office, one of our Directors, Alex Paul, produced a copy of World Sports (Volume 33 No. 10) dated October 1967. This was the official magazine of the British Olympic Association. It was in astoundingly good condition for its age and contained two pictures on fencing, one of which was this image on page 32.

The fencer in the image is Graham Paul, the Uncle of Alex and Ben the current directors or Leon Paul.

The extract of the method from the magazine.
“These pictures of 20-year-old Graham Paul, British foil champion in 1966 and a commonwealth Games gold medallist, were taken by World Sports cameraman Peter Abbey using a high speed Ektachrome film in a pre-focused Bronica 2 1/4 sq. camera. A two second exposure was made in complete darkness as the foil, with a four-volt bulb attached to the tip, was moved. After two seconds a single electronic flash was fired from the side of the subject and the shutter closed. To obtain the best exposure the shot was repeated at apertures carrying from f2.8 to f8”

We have seen quite a few different versions of this technique over the many years that Leon Paul has been in business, but we thought that it could make for great content for a number of reasons, not least the fact an original version involved a Paul family member. Adding the recreation to our creative schedule was a no brainer, we have the skills, equipment and people to make it happen with a modern, digital, LED take.

Director Alex Paul (in Art director mode, unseen here) and our in-house photographer Ian, got to work with one of our LED sabres, a darkened studio and a volunteer fencer, for some long exposure image shooting.

Here are some of the results of the shoot, and I’m sure you’ll agree that they look great! Keep an eye out for these images on our online stores, email campaigns and social media accounts soon.

Cannon EOS 1d MKIV, flash light, long exposure set up. 1 – 2 second shutter speed, aperture F/11 and a great fencer.

Thanks to Ian ( ), Dani and Alex.

After 10 years of fencing, this will be my last year with the youth…

Let me introduce myself. I am Daniël Giacon, a 19-year-old Dutch foilist. When I was a little kid every branch or stick I found I’d use it as a sword. At the age of 5 someone suggested my parents to see if fencing would be a suitable sport for me. That person was right: I fell in love with the foil immediately.

My first big foreign youth competition was the CEP Marathon in Paris in 2012. I clearly remember me sitting on the stairs in that enormous hall. I was so impressed by all those boys from all these different countries. Every participant receives a mask sticker with their name and country. For months I left this sticker on my mask. I was so proud that I had participated in one of the most important European youth tournaments.

Two days before my 13th birthday I competed in the first ECC tournament in Halle (Germany) and now we are a couple of weeks before my last Junior World Cup in Barcelona. Time has flown by!

Since January 2017 I am a member of the Dutch Senior team, so in my last Cadet year I participated in 3 World Championships: Cadets, Juniors and Seniors.

In season 2018/2019, after I graduated from high school, I took a gap year. The Netherlands has a small fencing community, so I spread my wings and trained in Denmark, Germany and Italy and participated in a lot of tournaments, both Junior and Senior. I used my gap year to play against many strong fencers abroad.

This year I started a new study and it is more difficult to combine University with Junior and Senior tournaments. Furthermore, there is always a financial issue as in the Netherlands we have to organize and pay all costs for tournaments ourselves (including hotel, travel costs and an allowance for our coach). In September I made a schedule with my trainer Daniël Nivard. The outcome was that I had to skip some Junior World Cups and concentrate more on the Senior World Cups and Grand Prix in Europe. The most important goal this season is closing the gap between the Juniors and Seniors and I think I am on the right track.

For me it’s a great experience to compete with the Seniors. I feel less pressure too. I know I am one of the youngsters, so there’s really nothing to lose. I learn a lot from every bout, because these Senior guys have a lot more experience than I do. On the other hand, in the Junior competitions I know almost all the players and they know me too. This makes some of the bouts pretty tough, but on the other hand sometimes a bit predictable, because we both know each other so well.

The Junior and Senior tournaments are all in the same period and switching from Junior to Senior tournaments goes automatically. For me it’s no big deal to swap between these two levels, because the best Juniors are competing at Senior level too. In the end I think you just need to be in it and not think about it too much. It always needs to come naturally, I think. Prior to the tournaments I try to empty my head, concentrate on my music and have a good warming up. That works for me.

Since childhood I always try to be the best at something I do. That hasn’t changed over the years. I am still aiming for the top. The way of getting there can be bothersome and tough, but I am enjoying every single step of the journey. After all these years fencing is still my passion and I am ready for the Seniors!