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In November 2003, the FIE voted to adopt several changes to the rules governing how foil is fenced. The timeline of changes, how they will be enacted, and certain other specifics still need to be made clear. At the very least, the changes have been announced, and this indicates that we fencers (and coaches) are supposed to start considering how our games will change.
This article is a Nostradamus-style prophecy of how these rule changes will change the shape of foil fencing. We try to extrapolate, from a few changes in box-timing and springs, what tactics and technique will be useful to "future-foil." After the changes, there will be a short window of opportunity where results and rankings will be screwed up — a fencer who has trained to the changes will have a chance to change their standing.
Shorter time for "blocking-time": 300 milliseconds (was 550)
Longer impact-time: 15 milliseconds (was 2)
More impact-power: 750 grams (was 500)
Change foil maximum curvature to 1cm
Fleche stays in foil
Reversed shoulders no longer an offense in foil
Use of a "mangiarotti" tip
Online member Veeco captures the essence of these changes:
…I think the general idea behind reducing the lockout timings is to have [fewer] two-light actions, thus making the refereeing easier and the actions easier to understand by the fencers.
Basically, the referee will look at the lights, and if there is only one light, that means that the attack or counter-attack in time was valid. If there are 2 lights, then it means that the attack was valid if there was no parry, or that the riposte was valid if the attack was parried.
In sabre, the fact that the lockout time just slightly higher than the human reaction time actually makes a lot of sense. That means that someone who is preparing an attack won't have the time to finish their attack if they get hit during the preparation. Thus they will have to have already launched the attack when they get hit by the counter attack for their attack to be valid. They cannot "react" to the hit during the preparation, because if they do so, their light won't go off. And the referee will only see a one light action, as well as the spectators.…
Some or all of these changes will take effect after the 2004 Olympics, starting October 2004 or early 2005. They will be propogated initially to junior and cadet tournaments, and the changes will eventually be adopted for adult fencing. At some point, the USFA will also ratify the changes for American fencers. Most of the changes indicate updates to the scoring boxes, though the "Mangiarotti tip" looks like it may entail changes to all electric foils.
Not anti-flick, but rather pro-tip
These changes in foil were not explicitly undertaken to kill the flick — otherwise we would have heard an uproar from many top-level fencers and several fencing federations. The changes were probably promoted as a way of reviving the importance of point-attacks, and all the concomitant point technique like parries, binds, coupés, and even feint disengages which have been languishing recently at the highest levels.
Arcing flicks, marching footwork, and the tactics to defend against them were originally borrowed from sabre. These moves are undoubtedly prospering in foil, but the FIE's language when justifying the rule changes contains terms like "foil's specific character" and "foil heritage" — they're looking for something foily, which is tip and Right of Way.