Fencers like to debate about yelling in the sport and whether or not this is unsportsmanlike, whifferninnious conduct. The truth is, yelling is a part of fencing, and those who are offended by it are likely the same people who were tattle tailing on the playground until they were 18 years old.
Yelling in the right of way weapons (sabre and foil) is a way to assert confidence of a touch after a point.
Yelling in epee is a way of releasing the pent up tension associated with setting up a touch and scoring accordingly.
Good old fashioned yelling is not unsportsmanlike and is a big part of all three weapons. Almost all Olympians yelled, and the act of yelling is commonplace in elite level competition. However, there are certain kinds of yelling that there is no place for in fencing. Because, as intense as our sport is, at the end of the day, it is still a lady’s/gentleman’s game. So, without further ado, I present you the 10 commandments of yelling in fencing.
- Thou shall not yell in thy opponents face. If you score a touch, ye shall turn away from your opponent and yell, or if you have fleched by him, ye shall initiate your yell when you are far out of their ear shot.
- Thou shall never, ever, ever yell in practice. Most folks come in after a long work/school day to practice actions and socialize with teammates. Save the uber intensity for competition.
- Thou shall yell especially loud after scoring an epic touch (wrist flick, toe touch, back flick).
- Thou shall not utter any unsportsmanlike words or phrases such as “Who’s your daddy,” “What’s my name,” or “Your woman taste like honey nut cheerios” after scoring a touch. Besides unchivalrous whifferninny, this kind of conduct also falls under the rules of “disturbing the order of a bout” and could be subject to a card.
- Thou shall halt all yelling once ye have secured a 6-7 touch lead. You’ve probably figured things out by now and are controlling the bout. No need to continue the screaming.
- Thou shall not scream at any fencer who is in the “youth” age range. Because no one likes an whifferninny who screams at newly minted teenagers.
- Thou shall only yell in incoherent gibberish or Russian or you shall come across as assertive as pre-pubescent Justin Bieber.
- If your yell makes babies cry, then thou shall not yell. If your yell makes a grown man cry, yell louder. If you can break glass with your yell, then please shut up.
- Thy yell may never last more than 3 seconds, or one full lung of air, whichever is shorter.
- If you don’t play nice with the kids in the sandbox, the kids in the sandbox ain’t gonna play nice with you. So if you’re fencing a person universally accepted as a whifferninny, all commandments of yelling are null and void.
Bonus commandment: Jack Maes is exempt from all of these.
So there you have it. The 10 commandments of yelling. Share yours below.
©Damien Lehfeldt “The Fencing Coach”
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