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.


(5)
– 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 https://www.leonpaul.com/contour-fit-plus-strap.html

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.

Danny.

Our R&D team visit the D30 Lab

Here at Leon Paul we are determined to create the best innovative products for our customers and love it when we can work and support other British companies who can help us do this, especially when we can utilise them in advancing material technologies.

The other week Ben, James and I ventured to Croydon to visit D3O’s head office to discuss using more of their fantastic materials in a few of our existing products. We were given a tour of their excellent facilities, to see where the magic, also known as chemistry happens, as well as their test rigs and GOO tank.

You may be aware that we already use D3O in our EXO Shin Guard for Epee, due to its smart, rate-sensitive, non-Newtonian properties. D3O “empowers people who use our products to take risks, challenge their limits and stay safe.” Their products provide impact protection for sportsmen, workmen, the military and even for your phone.

In my previous post Chest Protector Development, I discussed using new materials in the development of the women’s chest protector. D3O is definitely something that I am considering, however there are lots of different types and grades of material that D3O are able to offer all with their own unique properties. Visiting D3O’s headquarters meant that we were able to see all these materials firsthand and discuss with their sales team what they think would be best for this new protector.

D3O were kind enough to provide us with lots of samples of their materials to carry out test on, which I look forward to doing in the new year. I am anticipating carrying on with this project when I go back to University next year as my final year project so I will hopefully be able to carry out product testing on some prototypes to ensure they are safe enough to become sellable goods.

Finally, the pictures you have been waiting for … the GOO tank!!

Chest Protector Development

Hi Fencers! Danielle here, product development intern at Leon Paul. As of September, I have been working here, undertaking a 9-month placement as part of my sandwich year at university. I am currently reading Sports Engineering at Nottingham Trent University and am very fortunate that Leon Paul offered me this perfect opportunity to learn more about the engineering behind sports equipment in a work environment.

I myself am a fencer, I have been competing now for 10 years and this knowledge of the sport has been very helpful when looking at improving products. I have been working on a multitude of TOP SECRET projects watch this space!

For me the most interesting project that I have been trusted to work on at Leon Paul is the women’s chest protector. Now before I lose half of the readers who this product probably won’t be of much interest to, hold on, I may be able to peak your interest with some pretty cool materials and technology.

My relationship with my chest protectors has been very on and off. On one hand it isn’t very comfortable, not very attractive and can slightly restrict your mobility however it does provide the protection I need to not get hurt, with the confidence that I am protected whenever I fence.

So, over the summer my university had an opportunity for me to take place in an EROS research project titled “Fabrication of Auxetic Meta-Materials using SLA 3D Printing”
The definition of Auxetics is “…. structures or materials that have a negative Poisson’s ratio. When stretched they become thicker perpendicular to the applied force”
There are some pictures and diagrams below, but the idea is that when force is applied the material structure expands. So, I immediately jump to how this can be applied to fencing? I ended up looking into the chest protector as this technology is already being explored in cycle helmets, running shoes and in the military, due to its protective and flexible properties.

I spent 6 weeks exploring these patterns and materials and attempting to apply them to the chest protector. My most successful prototype can be seen photographed below. Due to the detailed intricate patterns, computer capacity was the biggest struggle. As I was unable to make the mesh smaller, the holes are too large to be an effective product and made it hard to carry out any realistic tests. This project still needs a lot more work to carry out the appropriate testing and perfecting the design. This is a very new technology so there aren’t huge amounts of existing research, but as more and more is being discovered, hopefully new solutions will arise that can be utilized.

But even after all this time spent working on this product, I was still interested and still hopeful that one day there would be a better alternative to what’s on the market for women. Since working at Leon Paul, I have been given the freedom to work on the chest protector again. I know this isn’t going to be easy as I would like to produce a product that is not only protective but stylish and meets the needs of the women wearing it. Whilst working here, I have been exposed to interesting new materials and technologies that I look forward to working with and can’t wait to tell you all about the first test products soon.

The Crack Detective

Improving safety for fencers is one of the FIE’s main roles as a governing body.

Huge steps have been made over the last 30 years to increase safety, starting with the implementation of both FIE level protective clothing and the lower level 350 newton testing standard. This is an ongoing process and has led to many improvements in safety, including:

  • The use of maraging blades
  • Implementation of 800N sabre gloves
  • Improvements to the fitting system of masks

It is little known that to further increase safety at some elite events, blades are also tested for cracks prior to the events. This mainly happens at the Olympics and World Championships where the speed and power of the fencers has the perceived greatest risk of injury from a broken blade.

The current tests uses a coil which the blade is passed through and this performs an ‘eddy test’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy-current_testing

This basically looks for fluctuations in the magnetic field which can indicate the presence of a micro crack in the blade. Blade failures all occur at the position of a micro crack and so it is possible to predict failures before they occur. Practical testing like this can allow the event organisers to reduce the chances of a blade breaking during use.

Testing in a coil is a good start, but we wanted to look into this in more depth to find out if there was anything better. We invited testing experts who normally work in fields such aviation and the gas pipe industry to visit us and show us the kinds of systems that were being used in other industries to predict failures before they can occur.

They explained that passing a blade through a coil was a reasonable way to predict micro cracks, but was limited in its accuracy. To test something accurately by passing it through a coil, the part needs to be of a uniform cross section and the coil needs to match that cross section. In fencing where the blades are tapering this is impossible. So although this type of analysis can give some indication, it is not very accurate.

They demonstrated a pen type eddy test where you pass a probe along the blade to do a similar test, but as the probe is touching the blade it is far more accurate. The problem with this approach is that you have to do both sides of the blade and it is very time consuming.

We continued to research looking for something that was faster and maybe something that could test the whole blade at once, and we came across magnetic particle inspection. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_particle_inspection.

This is an entirely non-destructive test where you magnetise the piece of steel and then apply a magnetic UV reactive dye. The dye is pulled into any cracks and then can be clearly seen under a UV light.

You can see an interesting video of it here

We sent off some blades to test and the test rig supplier were able to clearly able to demonstrate that the entire blade could be tested very quickly and micro cracks were immediately visible:

The cost for a suitcase sized test rig is around $8000 so we believe that this kind of testing could be used to significantly improve safety at high level fencing events.

Project Zer0: The Mag-Tec Zer0 grip. Balanced yet lighter.

Here at Leon Paul, we have always been obsessed with removing weight from our equipment. Science tells us that the lighter the object the less force required to move it. A lighter object can be accelerated and moved faster, and stopped and controlled with less force. However, balance is also key in a sport where point control is essential. To remove weight from an object like a sword that is made from a series of parts is relatively easy, you take it to bits and study every piece, removing grams wherever possible. But to maintain the original balance and control or feeling of the object is much harder.

At Leon Paul we split a weapon into three categories in a similar way as racket sports and golf does. We have ‘Point Heavy’, ‘Guard Heavy’ and ‘Evenly Balanced’. I won’t talk about blade stiffness in this post as that is a whole other subject, but this also greatly affects the point control.

‘Point Heavy’ is where the balance of the blade is higher up the weapon. This balance would be more suited to people that like to flick in Foil or Epee.

Guard Heavy’ is where the weight of the blade is further back and the balance point is as close the hand as possible. This balance would give better stability in parries and a tip that is easier to control.

‘Evenly Balanced’ is when the weapon is balanced on a single point, the distance of this point is about 10 cm or 4″ from the hand.

Now we think about each component in a sword:

FOIL

EPEE

SABRE

Each component effects the overall weight of the blade and the balance point

If you add a very light tip made of titanium, the balance of the weapon will move closer to the hand, if you use a heavy tip made of tungsten the balance moves forward to the tip.

By producing a range of parts in a range of weights you can then create different weapons that can be tailored to an individual’s preference and style of fencing.

By reducing the weight of each part, it allows you to make an ‘even balanced’ weapon that has a much lower weight, allowing you greater speed and control. This is what we wanted to achieve with Project Zer0. A series of products needed to be redesigned and created to achieve our goals.

Foil and Epee

Tip: A Titanium Tip based on a German design and tested with the top international foil fencers. 40% lighter. We have taken the best and made it better.

Handle: The Mag Tec handle made an exponential leap in our ability to reduce weight in a pistol grip. Now we have taken that idea to the next level. Working on the design with Alex Massialas and Enzo Lefort to make something so lightweight, whilst maintaining structural integrity and being incredibly comfortable in the hand.

The Mag Tec Zer0 Pistol Grip is the lightest medium sized pistol grip ever mass produced, whilst still conforming to all FIE rules. At 46g it is 50% lighter than a traditional aluminium grip. Each hole is milled out at 6mm wide to ensure that tips cannot be trapped in the weapon.

Nuts: If you read our blog about nuts here: ALEX BLOG then you would know we are absolutely nuts about nuts. When watching some Formula 1 Racing recently, I heard them talking about how the nuts used to hold the tires on had been specially made to reduce the weight, but maintain the same strength. After some research we now produce our Hex Zer0 Nut. Made from Anodised Aluminium the new nuts weigh a crazily low 1.5 grams! A staggering 80% lighter than the traditional nut used.

Sabre

For Sabre we have completed the first and the hardest change – redesigning our Sabre guard, whilst two more products are under way and will be completed in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Redesigning our lightweight sabre guard was a far harder task than envisaged and has taken around 1 year in development. The shape of a traditional sabre guard was quite front heavy and the weight was not distributed evenly or cleanly. Our new sabre guard was designed and created by James Honeybone, Team GB Olympian & Sabre fencer who works here at Leon Paul in our Marketing and Product Development Teams.

A prototype Sabre is now under testing and is shown below. This will be released along with a new Maraging Sabre blade which should be in time for the FIE rule update for Sabre blades after Tokyo 2020.

The results:

The Mag-Tec Zer0 Foil

To check out the new product
CLICK HERE

The Mag-Tec Zer0 Epee

To check out the new product
CLICK HERE

The Mag-Tec Zer0 Grip | Alex Massialas

When Leon Paul launched the Mag-Tec grip I was a little skeptical about trying something new. No one had ever done something like this before and after fencing for 14 years with a standard pistol grip (albeit with a little bit of tape on the grip), I obviously wanted to make sure I really liked it if I was going to use it in practice and competition. In late 2017 and early 2018, Leon Paul sent me the first prototypes and I was instantly drawn by the reduced weight.

Last year I finished a degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford and one of my final projects was on the history and evolution of the pistol grip so I thought this would be a perfect product for me to help develop with them.

One of the reasons that I have always liked Leon Paul is because they are so eager to innovate and improve their products based off feedback from their athletes. With my degree in mechanical engineering, I feel like I can offer even more insight on products because I understand the manufacturing involved and the ideas of design thinking/rapid prototyping. When they initially approached me with the idea of making an even lighter handle, I was more than willing to help brainstorm and work on the product with them.

Initially we explored 3D printing, of which there are several types. This made a nice light handle but each type had its problems. Resin based printing (SLA) ended up with handles that were either flexible and tough, or hard and fragile. Printers which use hot plastic (FDM) ended up splitting along the lines between the layers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to feasibly 3D print using metal so it seemed like we would have to give up using 3D printing to manufacture the grips.

We went back to the drawing board and thought about how else we could reduce the weight of the handle without changing the material. That’s when we started looking at drilling out parts of the existing handle to reduce the weight.

When I first received the first “skeleton” grip from Leon Paul, I didn’t know what to expect. Would the various holes leave blisters on my hand? With holes drilled into the handle, would the change in how stress is distributed cause the grips to break more often? The Leon Paul grips are already the lightest out there, would the difference in weight really be that noticeable? With weight being taken away from the grip, would that throw off the balance of the blade? These were just a few of the questions I was asking myself before I had even tried it in practice.

My biggest worry from the very beginning was that the holes that were milled into the grip would leave blisters and cut up my glove. Going into my first fencing practice with the skeleton grip all I did was add some tape to where the pinky finger grasps the grip (which is how I tape all my grips) because I wanted to see if I would have this problem without adding any tape or padding.

I went through my first lesson with the new handle and I could immediately feel a difference. The grip made my foil feel lighter and I felt as though I could move my hand just a little bit faster. Even just letting the other fencers at the club hold it, they all described the experience of holding the foil with the new grip the same way: “air-y”. Not only was there a noticeable difference but, with just the lesson, I didn’t feel like the grip was causing any new blisters or chafing my hand uncomfortably. This was only a lesson though, now I needed to try it in bouts during a real fencing practice.

With the higher intensity and increased speed of bouting, I definitely felt right away that the grip was slightly uncomfortable. Though most of my hand felt fine, the only place where I could feel chafing was the last digit of the third finger because there was hole right there. After my first bout I quickly taped up the hole and continued fencing and for the rest of practice, I didn’t have any problems! It didn’t feel like I was chafing my finger anymore and it was a pleasure to use the grip from there on out.

I took this feedback to Leon Paul and together we decided that the middle two holes where your middle finger and ring finger sit should only go part way through the handle. This way you still have a lot of weight taken off the grip, but you don’t have to worry about the ergonomics of the grip since it feels the same.

I also suggested adding some more holes through the front of the handle vertically. This not only reduces weight but also helps adds more grip for your thumb and index finger.

I have since then incorporated the grip into my fencing practices and have even used it in competition at the World Cups. I actually received the final prototype in Budapest before I competed in the World Championships and used it when I was competing! I love how light the grip is and I believe every high level fencer would be able to tell the difference if they were to try it. The grip feels comfortable, the difference in weight is noticeable, and I haven’t had to change the way I set my blades.

This was the first time I worked on developing a product with Leon Paul and I have to say, it was very rewarding. Not only is it obvious that they care about improving their products so that their fencers have the highest chance to succeed, but the thought and user feedback that goes into developing their products in superb. It has been great to be involved in developing this product in conjunction with Leon Paul and I hope I can help out with more in the future!

Check out the new Mag-Tec Zer0 grip here:
https://www.leonpaul.com/mag-tec-zero-pistol-grip.html

Personification of a Sword – the Next Level of Fencing Equipment Customisation?

Flag designs on fencing masks (did you know we invented the flag mask?), team-inspired coloured uniforms for the FIE fashion show… here at Leon Paul we definitely have a sweet spot for personalised fencing equipment. And who knows: maybe in the future there will be customised fencing weapons? The first tests by our director Ben Paul do look promising… read on to learn more!

Continue reading “Personification of a Sword – the Next Level of Fencing Equipment Customisation?”

The best two pin bodywire in the world – a story of digital manufacturing

Our newly released updated two pin plug, found on our FIE-approved foil and sabre bodywires, already has a considerable number of fans… but do you know the the story of cutting-edge technology involved in its making?
Today, Alex Paul, our director and mastermind behind product development, tells you all about how our latest innovation saw the light of day the fencing halls of the world. Read on after the jump.

Continue reading “The best two pin bodywire in the world – a story of digital manufacturing”