Two flepee, hold the wip?


A Flepee is?

1) The new Starbucks drink?
2) An Italian pastry with ice cream on top?
3) An invention to keep kids from crying?

I teach epee to kids, certainly not just kids, but kids take up a fair amount of my time. I teach them epee, for several reasons. First, I teach 6 to 8 week introductory programs and fencing clubs both in after school and home school programs. The rules of right of way are hard to implement in such a short time and more to the point, a sense of fairness is one of the most distinct values kids share. Explaining to a 9 year old that his touch does not count results in the “this is stupid, I quit” syndrome. Equipment issues are also simplified, and it is not much fun being one of only two sabre fencers in a small school club. It just gets boring hitting the same opponent on the head over and over and over. A critical mass sort of thing I suppose.

Not is all roses however, beginning student often have a poor grasp of distance. As for their self control, that really does not kick in until the age of 40, at least for males. All this can lead to what I call catastrophic closing of the distance (CCD). Yep, they run into each other as fast as their little legs can go, and tend to hit harder then such a small stature would appear to allow. Now any self respecting women coach would have the kids sit down and talk about respecting each others distance, being more aware and otherwise fixing the root of the problem and perhaps even asking them how they felt about it. Well, coach Dan and I decided to approach the problem like men always do, we started talking gadgets.

Not wishing to see kids tear up, kindly coach Dan got a gleam in his eye. This often happens to Dan but this time he decided to do something (All my great inventions fall into the; I never got around to building it or the popular somebody built it first category). Yes, on this fateful day Dan did get around to it. He ground the grove of a foil blade to accept epee wires and re tapped the threads to attach an epee tip. Myth obfuscates the truth as to who called it a “flepee” first. All l I can say is upon seeing this new hybrid everyone exclaims “it’s a flepee!”. It must just be the obvious name of choice. The new training weapon was in fact lighter and more importantly hit much softer then the lightest epee we could find. It was a bit sad however when we discovered that the extensive amount of time needed to produce this devilish device was poorly rewarded by the short life of the modified blades. We also had some tips fall off, embarrassing for sure (not very safe either). Further insult resulted when Dans idea was not greeted with open arms by blade manufacturers. I suspect they saw the issues in manufacture and limited market. Perhaps they did not care to put their names on something that broke all the time.

Enter Rick, I am not sure how he first heard of the flepee, I suspect talking to Dan, but he saw the issues. According to his account, he discussed the issue with the makers of the most excellent, Virtual Scoring Machine. They, being smart lads, saw a software solution to the problem. Gone was all the retooling and hassle of blades failing. They invented “Epee Light” that allows the use of a standard foil to be used as an epee on the Virtual Scoring Machine. Life is good.

These are the facts as I know them. It is possible someone else has a claim to the flepee but it does not really matter. I now have several flepee for young students, foil blades with epee bell guards. I use epee body cords so I don’t have to answer the “what’s the clip for?” questions. Works great and we have yet to hear any crying. Kids can learn better form too as they don’t have as much an issue with the weight of this modest invention. Despite this happy result I am left pondering what could have been. I mean, inventing a new Starbucks drink could have made me a gazillionair, if I got round to it.

coach Geoff