The Great Epee Debate

By | December 10, 2017

As reported in “The Riposte” (precursor to “American Fencing”), there was a debate in 1940 on whether or not electric epee should return to the “1-Touch”format or remain the new “Best 3 of 5” format. With World War II preoccupying Europe and both the Olympic and FIE competitions being cancelled, America was in a position to go its own way and experiment with alternate formats without conflicting with the FIE.

Arguments for “1-Touch” epee was it simulated the duel closer and the electric epee was still relatively new and considered easily prone to failure. With the price for three electric epees (The amount being necessary to make it through a tournament) being upwards of $30 it was thought cost was driving away new epee fencers. Counter arguments ranged from victory in a “1-Touch” bout being more luck than skill and the need to train with the international standard in mind in anticipation of the war ending and international competition returning.

While the “1-Touch” format remained in local competitions, championships were fenced with the “Best of 3 of 5.” That was until 1942 when a shortage of Epee blades and electric components forced the return of the “1-Touch” Format for all championships, the first time since 1931. Given the choice of “1-Touch” Electric or Three Touch Dry, it was decided “1-Touch” Electric Epee was more favorable.