The development of fencing kit

Fencing may well be a sport with a relatively strict dress code nowadays (although we’re at Leon Paul always trying to bring colours back in the game), but in the past, fencing fashion has (almost) seen it all: open-toed sandals and heeled shoes for the gentlemen, skirts and corsets belts for the ladies… read on to discover the convoluted story of fencing kit, brought to you by our expert in fencing history Malcolm Fare (who has also published the history of epee, foil and sabre fencing here on this blog).

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The History of Sabre Fencing

After the history of foil fencing (here you go for part 1 and part 2) and the development of epee it is now time for the third part of our series by expert Malcolm Fare. If you’ve always wondered how sabre fencing was born and who it was most popular with in the beginning (no, it was not the military!), read on.


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The development of foil (part 2)

Fencers! It’s time for another bit of fencing history on this blog. The second half of our two-part series about the development of foil, to be precise. Written by our usual expert in the matter: Malcolm Fare. So, let’s continue where we left off and go back to the late 19th century. 1896 was going to be a special and decisive year for modern foil fencing in more than one regard….

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Just when and where the lightweight foil emerged as a weapon in its own right remains an intriguing mystery in the history of fencing. Purpose-made practice swords with buttoned tips had been available since the rapier became a popular civilian sword in the 16th century. So how did the foil develop?

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Some idea of what it was like to be a fencer in Victorian England can be gleaned from the records of the oldest club in the country, London Thames Fencing Club, which was founded as the London Fencing Club in 1848. Paying an annual subscription of £5 (equivalent to about £480 today)…


Fencing’s Royal Connection

In 1545, the year the Mary Rose sank so spectacularly in Portsmouth harbour, a book on archery was published complaining about the neglect of that sport in favour of fencing, which had masters to teach it in every town. The popularity of fencing in Tudor times was largely due to Henry VIII who encouraged displays of swordplay and who had, in 1540, given the London Masters of Defence a monopoly of teaching arms. Fencing became the passion of high and low. A “prize” fight, or public examination of candidates by the Masters, halted business in the City of London for the day.

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