Fencing: En Garde!

Fencing, which today seems to be one of the most archaic of sports, is in fact a relatively modern art. Paradoxically, it resulted from the invention of gunpowder, for until then swords men had always flailed away with weapons that looked and hefted more like crowbars than épées. By the 16th century, Italian gallants had developed a light, delicately balanced rapier with the sharp point that enabled them to thrust instead of slice with the blade. Thus was born true swordsmanship. It was a century later, at the court of France's Sun King, that the long, trailing rapier...

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