Faq II: Equipment & Maintenance:
For foil and epee, there are a wide variety of grips
available that fall into two broad categories, traditional and
pistol. Sabre grips are all fundamentally of the same design.
Most grips are fashioned of aluminum or plastic; the latter,
while lighter, are also much more fragile and prone to cracking.
Some grips are insulated with a layer of enamel (colour coded by
size), and many traditional grips are surfaced with leather,
rubber, or twine.
These are the French, Italian, and Spanish grips. All consist of
a relatively simple handle, a large, exposed pommel, and in the
case of the Italian and Spanish grips, crossbars or similar
prongs for extra grip.
The French grip is the simplest of all fencing grips in
construction, and the most economical. It emphasizes finger
control over strength, and provides considerable flexibility, and
a variety of possible hand positions. It is the most common grip
used by novices.
The Italian grip is noted for its strength, but is fairly rare,
partially because it requires a special tang on blades that are
used with it. It is the only ambidextrous fencing grip. Italian
grips are often equipped with a martingale (wrist strap).
The Spanish grip is a compromise between the French and Italian
grips, but is illegal in modern fencing competition, due to a
perceived safety hazard in not being able to release the weapon
easily. There are modern variants of the Spanish grip that do
not use the French pommel, but their legality is unclear.
These are modern, orthopedic grips, shaped vaguely like a pistol,
but still grasped in the traditional way. They provide a
pronounced strength advantage over the traditional grips, but
tend to encourage wrist movement over finger movement. Pistol
grips all have the features of a large protuberance below the
tang for the aids to grasp, a curved prong above the tang that
fits in the crook of the thumb, and a large prong that extends
along the inside of the wrist. Some varieties (eg. Visconti,
German) are heavily sculpted for the fingers, while others
(eg. Belgian, Russian) are relatively smooth but may provide an
extra prong for the middle finger (Belgian only).
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