A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cambodian-born fencing master, Maítre Bac Tau begen his career in 1965 with his Diplôme de Moniteur d'Escrime, from the Ligne de L'Académie d'Armes de Paris. Not only did Maítre Bac show talent but the head of the academy warmed to the young man, telling him, "My father taught your King, Nordom Sihaneuk, to fence." (Sihaneuk was better-known as a trombone player).

Maítre Bac, a member of the Coaching Commission of the Academie d'Armes Internationale, has written books on fencing, from the classic The Fundamental Principles and Techniques of Foil (1985) to a useful The Manual for the Care and Repair of Electric Fencing Equipment(1996). He is central to the Vancouver fencing scene.

As serious as this might be, fencers never forget their childhood roots. And they do so with a smile. Maítre Bac confessed that when he was six he cut his first bamboo stick so he could play Zorro. He agrees that the longest and best scene in the movies is in Scaramouche, in which the dashing Stewart Granger, in full Technicolor vanquishes Mel Ferrer at the Paris Opera. Maítre Ba cites The Fencing Master, a 1993 Spanish film based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel El Maestro de Esgrima as the most authentic.

Why is Maítre Bac's 18-year-old-pupil, Maja Futrell-Frühling smiling in the photograph? The aspiring actress says it is great for an actor to have the ability to fence. With a smile she said, "Besides being a sport, you get to poke people with a swords, it is good stress relief." An ideal pursuit for anyone who, as it says in the opening line from Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche, "was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

The above appeared originally in the July 2007 issue of Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine.



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