Escrime Motion Studies, 1890

Escrime motion studies, Marey Films, 1890.

Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist and pioneer in several fields. His early work was in medicine, studying blood flow, but his studies ventured into locomotion where he engaged photographic analysis. His achievements include development of early motion photographic techniques that would prove instrumental in furthering cinematography and high-speed photography, as well as the development of related photographic equipment.

Étienne Jules Marey around 1880, by Félix Nadar.

This includes creating the sub-field that came to be known as chronophotography wherein Marey devised techniques to record multiple images on a single negative at a rate of 12 frames per second (see the prior post of a fencer’s lunge motion by his protégé, Lucien Bull, here).  Though the French are proud of Marey’s vast accomplishments, he conducted some of his work in Naples after the mid 1870’s. His later work which analyzed smoke trails would contribute to the development of the first wind tunnel.

The excerpted video below is from Marey’s studies of human motion (Volume VII) in 1890.  It shows the movement of fencers’ exchanges with foil and sabre, first demonstrated at speed, then in slow motion.







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Lucien Bull, Lunge Motion, 1909

Lucien Bull, High Speed Photograph, 1909. Courtesy Bryn Mawr College

Lucien Bull, High Speed Photograph, 1909. Courtesy Bryn Mawr College Library and Information Technology Services.

Lucien Bull was  a pioneer of early high speed photography. A Dubliner who moved to France, Bull worked with Étienne-Jules Marey to develop techniques to record and study motion. Much of their work involved recording successive still images (a la flip-book style) to record and render motion. This was accomplished via what came to be known as the “gun camera” due to its physical appearance. However, this still image differs in that it exhibits multiple, successive, high-speed exposures to record the motion of a lunge on a single negative.

Our thanks goes out to Maeve White of Bryn Mawr College Library and Information Technology Services for her permission to share her work-related photograph of the original negative (left). It was processed into the positive above.




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Colonel Thomas Monstery, and the Training of Jaguarina, America’s Champion Swordswoman


Ella Hatttan, American Swordswoman.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we pay homage to Ella Hattan and her fencing prowess.

Martial Arts New York

“In the encounter with Monstery, at the end of a four hours’ bout neither of the parties had gained a point, and the combat was declared a draw.”

During the late nineteenth century, the field of women’s self-defense would be greatly advanced by two very special individuals—a fencing master and duelist, Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery, and his precocious student, Ella Hattan (popularly known as “Jaguarina”), who would go on to become regarded by many as one of the greatest swordswomen of the nineteenth century, and possibly of all time.

Above: Colonel Thomas H. Monstery Above: Colonel Thomas H. Monstery. Image from the author’s collection.


“It is a great mistake to suppose that women cannot learn fencing as quickly as men…”

In 1870, one of America’s most distinguished martial arts masters opened a “School of Arms” in New York City. He was a fencing master, boxer, marksman, sailor, adventurer, street fighter, soldier of…

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How to Practice Effectively

The Martinez Academy shared this video on social media.  It briefly illuminates the neurology of practicing a task, and underscores why we train in a particular manner.
(Really, myelinization is more interesting than it sounds — I hope Doc approves!)

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Weather and Holiday Closures

Weather Related Closure:
Due to inclement weather, practice Saturday December 17, 20016 has been cancelled. Stay safe and warm.

2016 Holiday Closures:
Practice has been cancelled Saturday, December 24, 2016, and Saturday December 31, 2016. Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

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