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The Physics of Fencing

A group research project in the name of science


on 18 April 2013

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Transcript of The Physics of Fencing

By: Corin Hildick, Tabarak Arslan, and Allison Trujillo The Physics of Fencing Foil Fencing What is Fencing? Foils are light-weight swords with blades that are thin, rounded and flexible. Originally these swords were made from rolled steel foil. Foils are commonly, but not limited to use of beginners. Foils are used for beginners because skills and techniques can be easily transfered to the other two commonly used fencing swords; which are the sabre and épée. When fencing with a foil you may only use the tip of the sword; and most times only the torso of your opponent may be a target. Forces of Fencing - Techniques The Lunge The tip of the foil moves approximately 1 meter in the direction sixteen degrees down of left. The lunge takes about a second to complete; the tip of the foil accelerated from zero to one meter per second. As the average mass of a foil is 500 grams and force = mass * acceleration, it can be calculated the the net force is 0.5N. Short Lunge The Short Lunge is basically a shorter version of the lunge. What it lacks in range it makes up for in quickness. In the example of a short lunge in the video, the tip of the foil moved .6 meters from its starting position in approximately one second, in the direction three degrees up of left. With the velocity (distance divided by time) and average mass of a foil, one can calculate that a short lunge has a force of 0.3N. The Parry There are many kinds of parries, each named after the area where they block. Or rather, numbered, as the areas are labeled with numbers. All parries have the same purpose - to prevent an attack from hitting its target. Physics and common sense both explain why it's easier to redirect the attack than to block its force with a relatively flimsy foil - the latter is probably impossible to do without ridiculously high concentration, amazing reflexes, and a whole lot of hand-eye coordination. Redirecting the attack doesn't even require the defending fencer to match the attack's force. The Beat MOTION Fencing is a sport that uses various techniques and motions to win duels. One such technique is the flick, the flick is achieved by making a whipping motion with the foil sword (1)(6). Thus allowing you to reach areas otherwise unreachable-like your opponents back (7). When executed correctly, the foil can bend to almost ninety-degrees. ENERGY Energy is everywhere in fencing, when a fencer is fighting with their opponent they are producing chemical energy which then turns to kinetic, then heat, and lastly sound energy (2). The foil can store gravitational potential energy, which is released as kinetic energy as the foil is swung down (2). You can also find elastic energy when a foil is 'flick'ed (2). Credits (1) Grahame, Anthony. "The Top Ten Fencing Moves." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., 7 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.

(2) Hewitt, Paul G. Conceptual Physics: The High School Physics Program. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall, 2002. Print. And Ms. Burke

(3) Helge, Jim. "The Official Cal Fencing Study Guide - Cal Fencing Club."Fencing.berkeley.edu/Docs/FencingStudyGuide.doc. Berkeley University of California, n.d. Web. <fencing.berkeley.edu/Docs/FencingStudyGuide.doc>.

(4) Acevedo, Laura. "Fencing Equipment Information." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., 11 June2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.<http://www.livestrong.com/article/145798-fencing-equipment-information/>.

(5) Terry, Sarah. "The History of the Fencing Sport." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., 20 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/339184-the-history-of-the-fencing-sport/>.

(6) "Fencing." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.

(7) Morel, Jen. "Importance of Footwork in Fencing." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., 19 June 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2013 .<http://www.livestrong.com/article/473803-importance-of-footwork-in-fencing/>. Fencing is the art of swordplay, it developed in the 15th century. Originally, fencing was a wild sport with secret thrusts, and multiple weapons. Fencing was later refined to an art with different styles developing in different regions of the world (5). As fencing continued to develop duels became tests of skill to settle a matter's of honor (5). And as dueling was banned in Europe and the US, fencing became a sport with weakened tips replacing deadly points. Feinting Lunge Short Lunge Parry Beat A beat is similar to a parry in that both are designed to move the opponent's foil. A beat, however, might better be described as an aggressive parry. A beat is when a fencer pushes (or beats) his or her foil against the opponent's to create an opening. A beat produces a break in the opponent's defense by pushing the foil away. However, if the opponent steps away and there is no collision, there is no reaction force to quickly stop the foil, which will leave the fencer's defense broken for a short time. Feint The video displays a feint then a lunge in slow motion for clarity. Minimal force is required for the feint (fake attack), as there is very little motion. However, the feint provokes the opponent to parry. The opponent would expect a reaction force from the collision of the two foils, but as there is no collision, the opponent's foil will travel farther from the body than a proper parry, thus creating an opening.
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