An idle thought came to me the other day: sabre is a sport almost uniquely suited to GIFs. Exchanges almost universally take 5-15 seconds and frequently require multiple views to appreciate. I’ve been spamming people with time-specific YouTube links for a while, but GIFs are a much more elegant solution.
The series was in part inspired by Hot Fencer Of The Day, and in part by Andrew Fischl’s yearly Best Touches compilation. Unlike Andrew’s video, I’m putting a great deal of technical or tactical sophistication into my selections. Criteria are simple: the hit must either make me go WHOOOOAAAAAA, or laugh, or better yet both.
The series is running on Facebook under the tag #EpicSabreHit and on Twitter under @EpicSabre. Daily posts will be going up here, but we’ve got a bit of a backlog to start with. Here we go:
WOW: Apithy(FRA) v Chung (KOR)
Let’s get this thing started off with a bang. Here’s an incredible, amazing, ridiculous hit from Apithy at the 2014 Moscow World Cup. Astonishing athleticism from both fencers. It’s got almost every flashy move in the sabre repertoire in one 5-second exchange. Wow.
Hangon, what?: Ibragimov (RUS) v Berre’ (ITA)
Not all great sabre hits are flashy and athletic. Some are surprising, vicious trick shots, and they’re just as much fun to watch. Here’s a beauty from the 2014 Budapest Grand Prix:
No points for effort: Montano (ITA) v Kovalev (RUS)
In a nailbiting quarterfinal at the 2014 World Championships in Kazan, Kovalev’s balance and composure prompt a truly heroic display of athleticism from Montano. But is it enough to save him?
For the lulz: Gu (KOR) v Zalomir (ROU)
Not technically a hit at all, but one of my favourite points of all time. What good is sport if it can’t sometimes make you laugh?
BOOM HEADSHOT: Kim (KOR) in Korea v Japan
This one’s from Junghwan Kim during the slightly one-sided team final at the 2014 Asian Championships. God I love this point. My entire goal as a sabreur now is to pull this one off.
A thing of beauty: Homer (USA) v Iliasz (HUN)
Lest I get typecast as only being into vicious one-light trick shots and Gu Bongil falling over, here’s a legitimately beautiful hit from Daryl Homer at the 2014 Coupe Acropolis in Athens. Watch and learn, kids, this is how marching attack is done.
Wait, where’d he go? Kim (AUS) v Konovalov (UZB)
This one stars Sydney Sabre’s very own Donghwan Kim in the final at the 2014 Singapore International. I’m not sure even Donghwan expected to get away with this one, and that’s what makes it so great.
Oh snap: Gu (KOR) v Yakimenko (RUS)
For today’s epic sabre hit, I set a crack team of researchers a daunting task: Find footage of the current world #1, Gu Bon Gil, scoring a point with something other than advance-lunge or counterattack. What they brought back was beautiful.
From the business end of the brutal semifinal between Gu and Yakimenko at the 2014 World Championships:
A creature of extraordinary grace: Gu (KOR) v Yakimenko (RUS)
I just couldn’t resist this one. This is how you become world #1, apparently. Hey, whatever works.
Beauty v The Beast: Kim (KOR) v Kovalev (RUS)
Spoiler: the beast wins. Here’s two of my favourite fencers in the world, with Junghwan Kim doing what he does best. Crazy stuff.
Off tempo: Oh (KOR) v Apithy (FRA)
Continuing the Korean theme ahead of sabre teams at Asian Games, here’s an incredible point from one of my favourite matches of all time. Starring Bolade Apithy and Eunseok Oh at the 2013 Chicago World Cup.
The whole match is here:
How ’bout that attack, huh? Gu (KOR) v Szilagyi (HUN)
This one’s just here for the response from Gu. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Asian Games Champion.
Birth of a new era: Won (KOR) v Limbach (GER)
To complete our Korean series before men’s sabre teams at Asian Games, here’s Won Wooyoung and the hit that made him 2010 World Champion. It’s got all his trademarks, right down to the sprint to the back when he wins. I’ll always have a soft spot for Won, who was the fencer who first made me pay attention to sabre.
Watch this space
From tomorrow, these will be daily. I promise, hand on heart, to not post another one of the Korean team for at least a week.
Or at least until I get video of the Gu v Kim final at Asian Games.