title> Chapter 12.
A "flick" is an attack that is executed with a cutting motion followed by a sudden stop, so that the foible of the blade whips around a blocking parry or body part to score with the point. It is controversial for several reasons. Many fencers feel that the flick is not legitimate because it never brings the point in line, and so never properly threatens the target. While flick attacks can score in the right circumstances, these fencers feel that the flick should rarely, if ever, take the right-of-way. Unfortunately for proponents of this point of view, the rules don't insist on a point in line in order for the target to be threatened. In fact, there are various legitimate fencing attacks that start from out-of-line positions, including sabre cuts and coupe' (cut-over). The rules seem to explicitly allow for attacks to start from out-of-line positions when they involve cutting actions. Since flicks are performed with cutting motions (blade moving perpendicularly to its length), they can be seen to fall into this category of attacks. However, the rules also say that foil is a thrusting weapon only. At first this may suggest that cutting actions are not legitimate attacks, but on further reading one finds that this rule only emphasizes that one cannot score with the edge of the foil, a point that is only relevant to manual judging. Since the cut-over (coupe') is a documented foil attack that takes the right-of-way with a cutting action, it appears that the "thrusting only" rule refers to how the point lands, not to right-of-way or how the blade is wielded. Some fencers also feel that flicks shouldn't take the right-of-way because they are often performed with a significantly bent arm. However, an extending arm is all that is required to take right-of-way. Full extension is not necessary. Yet another class of fencers perceives the flick as bending of the rules that comes close to cheating: the flicker gains an unfair advantage by using a dubious attack form that cannot be easily defended against. While they may be dubious, flicks can be easily defended against. Flicks are notoriously susceptible to being attacked on the preparation. They can also be parried, although the parries have to be wider and more precise than for inline attacks. Lastly, defence is often as simple as controlling the distance, since flicks will miss or land flat if the defender opens or closes the distance at the right time. Another concern with flicks is that some fencers dislike them because they are non-traditional and rely on blade properties that did not exist in the golden age of duelling. Such concerns are of relevance to historical re-creations of fencing, such as one finds in stage fighting or the SCA. The sport of fencing, however, is not a simulation of 17th century murder techniques, but a modern, dynamic, highly technological sport that honours those techniques that work today, not just the ones that worked a couple of centuries ago. Many flicks are preceeded by a flurry of out-of-line feints that look like random waving of the foil. Many fencers object that this waving often takes the right-of-way. It should not; right-of-way can be taken at the earliest when the arm starts its final extension. Right-of-way is lost as soon as the blade starts moving away from the target; the flicker/waver is vulnerable to an attack on the preparation at that time. Regardless of how one feels about the flick, it is widely accepted as a legitimate attack, and is very dangerous in the hands of a skilled fencer. It is important for experienced fencers to know how to use it and/or defend themselves against it.Link to the next chapter: How do I find a good fencing club?