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Author Topic: Fencing  (Read 1214 times)
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pjgh
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« on: April 30, 2012, 07:07:29 PM »

... as in en garde ... touche and the like, not something to keep the kids in.

Knowing nothing about fencing, I had my first lesson last week and attended in VFFs. Fencing deploys a move called a lunge, which apparently can press down something like seven times bodyweight on the heel! That concerns me ...

Okay, fencing is not a natural action and perhaps not best attended in minimalist footwear, but ...

Attending in minimalist footwear might well bring the fencer to deliver good form from the outset. Or, as the lessons go on, end up with awful achilles pain and a bruised heel. So, give up fencing or get heel cushioned shoes?

Minimalist footwear experiences would be very VERY much appreciated!

From day one, I know that being able to feel the ground is so much more important than protecting the heel. I can deliver softer lunges, almost silent (not the point of a lunge) and keep my back foot strong under its own skeletal strength, whereas heeled shoes have me rolling over on my ankle straight away, having practiced in a sports shop.

Again, minimalist footwear experiences would be very VERY much appreciated!

Am I on a losing course, or will protected/barefoot fencing be my nirvana?
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« on: April 30, 2012, 07:07:29 PM »

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Rockpup
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 08:16:59 PM »

Another option, develop own style based on natural feel of ground Smiley
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pjgh
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 06:10:46 PM »

While we're learning, having close ground feel is really worthwhile. Being able to spread my toes really helps my push off for lunges, but I do fear for the construction of the shoe (which is expensive) when my trailing foot is carried forward, practically dragged on the side.

That said, compared to many more heeled shoes, the way the sole wraps up around the toe joints on either side works well, as does the heel, oddly. There's actually quite a lot of padding there which works fine on a wood gym floor. I'm going to persist with these shoes for now - I think I'm learning really good foot placement. I wonder how a heel cup might work in VFFs.

Anyway, they're Treksports that I have ... I'd like some straight black KSOs for indoor fun, so this gives me a good excuse to buy some. How do the soles compare?
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BarefootLifeguard
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 12:47:28 AM »

If the move puts on a full 7 times your body weight, will a thicker sole really help? Go look at the alternative shoes you're considering. First off, is it even thick enough to abosrb that much? And is that 1 1/2 inches of rubber going to compress more than the thickness of your vibrams? Probably not. I don't know a thing about fencing, but if the move allows, use your body as a spring (mostly the knees). This is the only way to reduce that crazy load! I can't think of any other solution unless your going to be fencing on a trampoline sometime soon!

Have fun!
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 12:47:28 AM »

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pjgh
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2012, 04:23:29 AM »

Since fencing has been around a lot longer than modern technology footwear, I can only assume that the heavy heel landing is something of a modern twist, perhaps over stretching with a very springing lunge.

I know I can get a better push off with my toes moving more naturally, not compressed into a narrow show and don't go over on my ankle so readily, as I found I did trying on a number of modern sports shoes - tennis or squash, for example. Fencing shoes apparently have an extended sole to deal with that issue, but I have already found that a foot which can move naturally (perhaps which already has regained it muscular strength through minimalist footwear) can do this naturally. I am also finding that my lunges are landing mid-sole, naturally. I lose those final inches, which might be all important in competition, but so long as my gauge of distance is good for my reach, it could confound my opponents when I appear to be a little close.

The only difficultly is the trailing shoe getting shredded on the inside, since it is dragged during the lunge. Again, good foot posture and awareness of the foot, lifting it clear of the floor so as not to drag should be a good technique. I read that many fencers consider dragging to be poor form, but it is seen often.

I'll persist with the VFFs and see how I can develop good form to really capitalise on the strength in my feet.
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whtouche
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 01:33:03 PM »

Do not fence in FiveFingers; this is a very poor idea.

I've been wearing FiveFingers pretty much to the exclusion of all other shoes for about three years now, and in that time fencing and more recently rock climbing are two of the only activities I would never wear them for.

I've been fencing for about 11 years and have gotten to the point where I'm pretty not bad at it. As you point out, the heel-toe pattern of pretty much all fencing footwork is anathema to the concept of FiveFingers. Even while using traditional fencing shoes and athletic shoes I have two herniated discs in my back which I attribute partially to fencing. Not only that, but there is no chance FiveFingers would hold up to the type of stress that fencing footwork would put on them. First of all the seams are not built to withstand it, but even if they did somehow stay together, as soon as you become athletic enough in your fencing you will be rolling your back foot onto your instep and this will shred pretty much any pair of FiveFingers instantly. Look at the shoes of anyone who fences often, or just ask them where their shoes are most likely to wear out - I can't count the number of shoes that have been in perfect shape except for the hole worn on the side near the ball of the foot.

Trying to fence in FiveFingers will hurt your form and most likely hurt you physically.
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JustinB
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 01:42:37 PM »

Since fencing has been around a lot longer than modern technology footwear, I can only assume that the heavy heel landing is something of a modern twist, perhaps over stretching with a very springing lunge.

I know I can get a better push off with my toes moving more naturally, not compressed into a narrow show and don't go over on my ankle so readily, as I found I did trying on a number of modern sports shoes - tennis or squash, for example. Fencing shoes apparently have an extended sole to deal with that issue, but I have already found that a foot which can move naturally (perhaps which already has regained it muscular strength through minimalist footwear) can do this naturally. I am also finding that my lunges are landing mid-sole, naturally. I lose those final inches, which might be all important in competition, but so long as my gauge of distance is good for my reach, it could confound my opponents when I appear to be a little close.

The only difficultly is the trailing shoe getting shredded on the inside, since it is dragged during the lunge. Again, good foot posture and awareness of the foot, lifting it clear of the floor so as not to drag should be a good technique. I read that many fencers consider dragging to be poor form, but it is seen often.

I'll persist with the VFFs and see how I can develop good form to really capitalise on the strength in my feet.


I disagree with your notion that just because it has been around that heavy heel landing is a modern twist.  Fencing was not conducted by the common folk.  More often than not it was an activity practiced by someone of affluence.  That meant fancier shoes, which also meant heels.  Affluent mens shoes were similar to modern day womens boots.  So there would be a large heel.

When it comes to sporting activities, you would be best served by ditching the VFF's until after you are done. 
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pjgh
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 02:22:45 PM »

Sound advice, guys. As things are now speeding up, I can see my back foot needing something a lot stronger on the inside and more on the heel of my front foot. Previously, I was not rolling on my back foot, not really taking a full stretch lunge, but I can get those extra inches doing that, which puts a lot of strain on my arch and drags up my big toe. Opponents can read distance easily - thinking I could just edge closer and shorten my lunge works, but not when I really need to.

It was a nice pipe dream while it lasted. I have seen a good number of videos of "historical fencing" where a couple of chaps seem to be fencing in trousers and evening shoes, but it's slow ... very slow ... modern club fencing is a sport, simple as. Yes. I need to get some proper shoes. Okay, tools for the job.

Thanks for the input.

whtouche - which fencing shoes have you tried? Obviously, I could ask this on the fencing forums, but barefooters have a very different requirement for shoes. I have noted that a larger toe box is useful for the push off. I have quite slender feet, but like a generous toe box. I gather the Leon Paul Hi-Tec Blades/Scimitars are good for that, while Adidas tend to be quite narrow. Opinions?
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whtouche
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 11:44:43 AM »

Hi-Tec / Leon Paul shoes are the best for fencing that I've tried, though to be fair I like a lot of fencers most of the time use non-fencing shoes as well.

If you've got the money I would definitely go for the Hi-Tec / Leon Paul Scimitars - they are relatively flat but still have a good rounded heel. One piece of advice I would stress though in making your fencing shoes last is to wrap your back foot. Gaffers tape works the best - this will prevent the type of wear I mentioned above and that you're starting to see. Everyone wraps their shoes sooner or later, better to do it to prevent a hole in your shoe than to cover the one you've developed Smiley
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