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THE PASSING OF A LEGEND   It is with sorrow and a feeling of loss that the world of fencing reflects on the passing of Christian d'Oriola.

The suppleness and flexibility of the lunge as demonstrated by the legendary Christian d’Oriola of France.

Christian d'Oriola became the legion of Classical Foil Fencing often referred to as the 'steam foil" era, i.e. it preceded the "electric foil".   An era that many fencing professionals still consider to be the epitome of foil fencing. Up until that time, competition performance had developed from centuries of traditional sword play that incorporated a variety of rules and conventions such as the of right of way, or priority of one touch over another, fencing time being the time it takes to perform a simple action and the materiality of the touch, just to mention a few to a level of proficiency that was being termed as the Sport, Science and Art of Fencing.   

In 1947 d’Oriola won the Men’s Individual Foil event at the 1st World Fencing Championships held after WW2.  He continued world dominance of foil fencing winning the 1952 event at the Helsinki Olympic Games, the 1953 World Championships in Brussels and in 1954 at the Luxembourg World Championships. In 1955, the first electric foil event was held at the World Championships in Rome, this was in final preparation for its introduction at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.  After dominating visually judged foil fencing for so long, Christian d’Oriola came 2nd to Joseph Gyuricza of Hungary in this new event – the electric foil.   Gyuricza used simple and fast counter-tactics, more suited to the electrical scoring apparatus, against d’Oriola’s conventional “conversation of the blade”.  However, the following year, Christian d’Oriola won the Men’s “electric” Foil event at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and on winning he said that he didn’t like this new weapon and he didn’t like what it was doing to the "sport" of fencing and vowed not to fence it again. On returning to France he continued to fence at his club, a form of fencing that has now became known as classical foil fencing.

 

 

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