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:

Mag-Tec Zer0 Foil
Mag-Tec Zer0 Epee

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!

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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.

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Ice Ice Baby! That’s the updated Leon Paul two pin bodywire

First shown on our Instagram page some months ago we are ready to unveil our brand new two pin plug. This awesome new design makes the previously dull world of plugs and sockets a guaranteed 100% more exciting!

Our new foil and sabre two pin bodywire is

  • Longer lasting – the best strain relief on the market
  • Less Exploding – no more flying lock clips
  • Easier to fix – no need for a helpful octopus
  • Prettier – like it was hewn from a solid block of ice (or a glacier mint)

Read on for a full description of all its the benefits!

 

 

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How to rewire your epee – Part 2: gluing the blade

We’re back with the second part of our armoury series for epeeists. In the focus today: how to glue your blade. As last week, all tips and tricks shared here are based on the experience of our Instagram girl Johanna, who prefers to have all her epees equipped with our ultra light titanium tip (if even Bas Verwijlen does, who can blame her? 😉 ) and therefore regularly rewires her blades.

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How to rewire your epee – Part 1: How to prepare your blade

It’s probably the task most fencers secretly (or even not so secretly) fear: rewiring a blade. But no matter whether it’s because the wiring of your favourite blade is damaged, you want to use a different kind of tip than the one your blade came with or you simply bought an unwired blade – there are moments in a fencer’s life when you just have to face that task and get it done. We’ve put together some useful tips for rewiring your epee. Brought to you by our Instagram girl Johanna, who regularly rewires her weapons by herself. Today’s post will focus on how to best prepare your blade for the actual rewiring.

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From fencer to fencer: my Leon Paul Weapon Carrier Pro review

Our new fencing bag is here! Fencers, please meet the weapon carrier pro. At first glance, it may look a bit like a traditional top bag you would usually use to carry your weapons around during tournaments, but actually our new release is far more than that. We aimed at nothing less than the – almost – impossible. Offering you a fencing bag that holds all of your kit (yes, even if you’re a pro), but that can still be comfortably worn over your shoulders. For that reason, it couldnʼt bear the name “weapon carrier PRO” without at least being tested by one! Meet professional fencer Ben Peggs, who is used to travelling all around the world for World Cup tournaments, and other fencing events. Read on to discover the review (and vlog!) by the former European Games Champion and current Commonwealth Champion.

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Reasons for choosing Leon Paul – the story of Polish top fencer Radosław Zawrotniak

“When you fence at a world class level, you need to be sure that your epee will not fail you when you’re at a decisive moment of the match”. These are the words of Radosław Zawrotniak (or Radek, for his friends), the best Polish épée fencer. We got Radek to reveal us his opinion about fencing equipment. What’s most important to him when selecting an epee? What makes fencing clothing truly outstanding? What should a fencer pay attention to when choosing their mask? And why did the Leon Paul Fusion Pro blade win his heart?

 

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Care and maintenance of your foil (and epee) points

Our GT3 tips, whether for foil or epee,  are the most carefully engineered on the planet. We have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to make sure that they are reliable, robust and above all else buttery smooth.
Ahead a few tips by our director Alex Paul (with the input from top-ranked foil fencer Richard Kruse!) to help you get the best from them.

 

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