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There are many fencing clubs around the world as fencing is a popular sport to improve fitness, meet new friends and learn a new skill. Fencing classes are welcoming with fencing members that really enjoy their sport because it fun, enjoyable and a good way to socialize. Students fencers ages range from 5 to 95. Meditation has traditionally been the cornerstone to any good martial art.
Fencing developed from the sword of medieval times, when sword fighting meant wearing heavy armour and trying to bludgeon your opponent to death with a massive heavy-weight sword.
Heavy armour disappeared once the gun was invented because a shot (bullet) could piece the armour from a distance killing or injuring the wearer.
The first guns could only fire one shot thus a sword or dagger (stiletto) was needed if there was more than one person to deal with or the target was missed.
A new type of sword fighting without armour was invented, and with the new specialist swords and clever footwork that the swordsman (or women) employed, elevated sword fighting to new heights of skill never seen before.
the fencing revolution from big broad swords to long, thin more versatile swords really happened around the 16th century with the invention of the rapier, a long-bladed slim line sword which had a small hand-guard that was designed to kill with a thrusting motion, this gave a freedom of movement and speed that could never have been achieved wearing armour whilst using a large, heavy sword.
Cut and Thrust
Two schools existed in the 16th century, the old cut style, and the new thrust style. The old guard of the cut school disliked the new thrust style which caused many duels ending in death between exponents of each style if they met on the street.
Eventually around the first half of the 17th century it was realized that the rapier sword was the better fighting implement and had become the fencers weapon of choice all over.
French or Italian
Two main schools of fencing evolved in europe, the French school and the Italian school. The french style focused on strategy whilst the Italians developed a more physical fencing approach.
In the 18th century a new refined version of the rapier was was produced, it was smaller and lighter thus allowing the wielder to develop an economic, quick movement that could flow from defense to attack more quickly than its predecessor, the longer slightly heaver rapier.
Footwork evolved with the introduction of these swords, stepping forward, heal of the front foot first followed by the back foot, the reverse to go backwards. The footwork used by the fencer is almost identical to the footwork used by the wing chun student, wing chun being a Chinese kung fu martial art that uses the center line philosophy similar to modern fencers, and so similar footwork. Jeet Kune Do founder Bruce Lee who originally learned and taught wing chun as his first martial art openly admitted to using fencing principles as part of his system.
In the 18th century the foil was invented for training purposes, the foil being a thin, flexible small sword with a blunt tip. The foil allowed fencing masters to explore and develop new sword techniques without being hurt.
Domenico Angelo an 18th century Italian fencing master who had a fencing school in London was one of the first fencing masters to write in a book (The School of Fencing- published 1763) that fencing could be learned as an art, a game of skill that would not only improve the fencers mind but also the fencers health and vitality.
Towards the end of the 18th century the use of the sword as everyday dress had become redundant with the progress of the gun, fencing was now seen as a sport, a skill, a way to self improvement. (fencing clothing)
During the 19th century fencing evolved the epee, fencing's dueling sword and the sabre a cut and thrust sword originally used by the cavalry.
The fencing helmet had been around since the mid 18th century but had been frowned upon by fencing purists until finally it was realized that using a helmet allowed fencing to be a more contact sport without causing injury, thus freeing the fencer from danger and allowing the fencer to tryout new techniques.
The first modern Olympic games in 1896 saw fencers from all over compete at the highest level, this exposure led to a fencing world championships, and in 1913 the formation of the F.I.E., Federation Internationale d'Escrime which was a fencing collaboration of Norway, Germany, France, England, Italy, Bohemia, Holland, Hungary and Belgium to standardize fencing competition rules that could be used for F.I.E. recognized fencing events all over the world.
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