Fencing; How to Understand and Enjoy the Sport as a Spectator

New York: Amateur Fencers League of America, post-1940. Presumed First Edition, First printing thus. Single sheet, printed on both sides. Sheet size is 8.25 inches by 9.25 inches, folded in half, printed on both sides resulting in a four-panel leaflet or brochure. Edges work and chipped. Some page discoloration. Top third has been folded down (presumably to fit into a book). Illustrations on the front and back panel. The two interior panels provide a discussion of the history, weapons (foil, epee, and sabre), judging, and a lengthy discourse on "How to Follow A Fencing Bout." Rare surviving example of this 'marketing' piece to build a spectator audience. Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the foil, the épée, and the sabre (also saber); winning points are made through the weapon's contact with an opponent. A fourth discipline, singlestick, appeared in the 1904 Olympics but was dropped after that, and is not a part of modern fencing. Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport arose at the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the historical European martial art of classical fencing, and the French school later refining the Italian system. There are three forms of modern fencing, each of which uses a different kind of weapon and has different rules; thus the sport itself is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, épée, and sabre. Most competitive fencers choose to specialize in one weapon only. Competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in every modern Olympic Games, the other four being athletics, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics. The Amateur Fencers League of America (AFLA) was founded on April 22, 1891, in New York City by a group of fencers seeking independence from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). As early as 1940, the AFLA was recognized by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) and the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body for fencing in the United States. Less than a year after the AFLA's founding, friendly relations were restored with the AAU. The AFLA grew slowly, with New York City initially dominating American fencing. The first competitions were visually judged using a jury of three people. Early rules included provisions to award points based on good form. During the AFLA's early years, it—and the prominent New York City fencing clubs—limited membership to people from prominent aristocratic families, and did not allow Jews and Blacks to become members. During the AFLA's first year, divisional organizations formed in New England and Nebraska, while the New York fencers remained in the "non-divisional group". The first section (composed of three or more divisions), the Pacific Coast section, was formed in 1925, followed in 1934 by the Mid-West section. In 1939, the national championships were held in San Francisco, the first time they had ever been held outside New York City. The All-Eastern section was recognized in 1939 as well. By 1940, the rules had been revised several times. Points for good form were no longer awarded, the jury had been expanded to four judges and a director, and rules for electrically judged épée bouts were adopted. Foil and sabre bouts remained visually judged, and electrical épée bouts were the exception rather than the rule. The AFLA remained a small organization for the first fifty years of its existence, with approximately 1,250 members in 1940. It had grown from three divisions to 25, with about 300 scheduled competitions each year. Despite its small size, the AFLA fielded teams to represent the United States in fencing events at all of the Summer Olympic Games from 1904 onward. Condition: Fair.

Keywords: Fencing, Olympic Sport, Amateur Fencers, Epee, Foil, Sabre, Saber, Combat Sport, Swordsmanship, Touche, Attack, Parry, Thrust, Riposte

[Book #82505]

Price: $32.50