New Paltz Fencing

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Way back when I was an undergrad, I was a plank holding member of the New Paltz College Fencing team. It seems they are still around. I found a couple reasonably recent articles about the team.

Ohh…it seems they have a Facebook page, which I will have to join. Plus, they have this bit of fencing humor which I’m reposting.

Sabreurs – or “sabreurs” fence sabre – a single-edged weapon characterized by sudden charges and wide, slashing attacks. Sabreurs prefer tight black leather clothing. Studded collars and wristbands are also quite common, as well as dog-collars, leather hoods, multiply- pierced body parts and grotesque or obscene tattoos. While many wear highly-polished pointed-toed boots with silver toe caps and spurs, most prefer heavier stompin’ boots of the Doc Marten variety.

Sabre fencers tend to be more heavily built than the other two. In sharp contrast to the casual brutality of the epeeists, or the studied, exquisite cruelties practiced by foil fencers, sabreurs are most often prone to random behavior. Screaming is a common manifestation of this, and the source of much amusement for groups of sabreurs out on the town. (Particularly when touring libraries, museums, retail outlets, and hospital wards.) Occasionally a sabre fencer will leap without warning into heavy traffic. His compatriots will generally take advantage of the ensuing confusion to loot the nearest music store.

Epeeists are tall. Very tall. A group of very tall men and women lounging on a street corner are either basketball players or epeeists. The difference is that basketball players will help a little old lady across the street, while epeeists are more likely to take her purse and throw her over. There is no real epee “costume”, except that they tend to wear track suits and shave their heads. Their women are the most beautiful of all the fencing women, but also the most likely to knife random passers-by and take their wallets.

All epeeists wear very expensive running shoes which they have invariably stolen. It is a mark of shame in the epee subculture to wear legally-purchased footwear. Naturally this is difficult to ascertain merely by looking, and of course asking about it can lead to other complications.

Foilists tend towards bright colors and flashy outfits. White sports jackets with pink shirts, gold chains and floppy white hats are common foilist attire. Foilists are usually smaller and slighter than their colleagues in the other weapons. This has bred in them a furious temperament and a tendency to pick fights with anybody at any time for any reason. It is said of foilists that if the chips on their shoulders were any bigger they could fly to tournaments on the next stiff breeze. Certainly it is true that after a night on the town any given 5′ 6″ foilist considers himself a match for any two members of the local police department. Additionally, foilists have a thing for knives – not surprising, given the nature of their sport. Most foil fencers carry at least one secreted about their persons, which they are prone to pull on people who upset them. Bar staff take note: junior and cadet-age foilists invariably become upset at persons asking them to provide proof of age at licensed drinking establishments.

Unlike epeeists and sabreurs, few foilists will stoop to common looting or shoplifting to support their lifestyle. Extortion, protection rackets, and credit card fraud are their thing. And while a sabre fencer might bodily throw a blind person in front of a bus, the more subtle foilist will merely suggest to one that it is now safe to cross. It is this delicacy of disposition, combined with a propensity towards sudden, directed violence, which makes the average group of foilists walking down the street as cunning and as dangerous as a bag full of mutant wolverines. Certainly it is this last group which is most to be avoided when traveling the streets of our fair city during a tournament weekend.

Before you ask, I was a sabre fencer. We had a four man sabre team, including our resident southpaw and Calvin, the manic-depressive art student who’s art always had more that bit of red in it.

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