Fencing (part 2) - Friday, December 11, 2015

Yesterday, we talked a little bit about a man named Domenico d'Angelo, the London-based expert who basically wrote the rules for modern fencing in the 18th century.  We continue our discussion of this intriguing sport today - one of only five sports to have been a part of the modern Olympic summer games since their inception in  1886.   Of course, there are different types of fencing, based on the type of sword used by competitors.  They are:

1)  Foil.  This is a light weapon of no more than five hundred grams (right around one pound) that is all about thrusting.  In fact, the only way to win points is by hitting an opponent with the point of the foil.  Any contact with the side of the blade has no point value, but stops the action.  The small, circular guard above where the sword is held protects the hand from accidental stabs, but that is its only function, as points can only be earned by "stabbing" in the torso, neck and groin.  Not the arms, legs or head.  Modern foils often have an electric button that registers scores in competitions. 
2)  Épée.  Yes, it's a weird word to non-French speakers.  It simply means "sword" in its original language.  Pronounce it like this: epp-AY.  Anyway, this is the heaviest of the swords used in fencing competitions, weighing in at seven hundred grams (just over one pound).  Like the foil, points are earned only when an opponent is stabbed - contact with the side of the epee earns no points - but you can score points by hitting anywhere on the body, including the hands. That 's why the hand guard on the epee covers the whole hand.
3)  Sabre.  This five-hundred gram sword, like the foil, plays with much different rules - contact with any part of the sword gets points so long as it's above the waist.  Hand guards tend to be out-turned more to deflect the sword arm than the hand from contact.  This is the one type of fencing sword we do not have on display in the Toy Box.

And that, friends of the American Treasure Tour blog, is the shortcut to differentiating between the three blades used in modern fencing.  You're very welcome/
QUESTION:  Which of the following is NOT one of the other four contests that have been in the Olympic summer games since 1886?
A)  Archery
B)  Cycling
C)  Swimming
D)  Athletics
ANSWER BELOW

APOLLO 17 HAS LANDED.  So, the other day we celebrated the departure of the Apollo 17 rocket from Cape Canaveral on what would become the last manned journey to the Moon. Spoiler Alert:  they arrived safely.  Today.  In 1972.  A great landmark and a sad end to a wonderful national adventure.  

YES, MISTER SECRETARY.  Turning 72 today is acting Secretary of State John Kerry.  The former Lieutenant-Governor and Senator of Massachusetts, presidential candidate and Vietnam veteran continues to serve his country in the highest appointed position in the land at an age when many people consider retirement.  Thanks for keeping busy, but we do hope you will take at least a few minutes off to enjoy some birthday cake.

QUOTE:  Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country. - John Kerry

ANSWER:  A) Archery became a part of the Olympic games in 1900, so it was pretty close to the beginning.  The fifth original sport still played is Gymnastics.