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Saturday, Dec 15th

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Fencing: An ancient Sport for modern health

Fencing has evolved a great deal since its birth over 800 years ago, changing from a deadly combat to a complete sport. But the speed of movement and the intricate strategy of ancient duels are still a part of modern fencing. Despite being a strictly regulated game, most of its traditions are passed on through generations, thus making it a truly educational sport.

Fencing is open to anyone who welcomes a challenge, both physically and mentally. Under a good fencing program, one will be able to quickly develop confidence, muscle tone, poise, sharper reflexes, greater cardio-vascular fitness and improved co-ordination. Though too many consider fencing to be a wild and furious activity, it is a sport that requires a good deal of control and discipline. It is largely a contest of mental ability, thus earning it moniker of "Physical Chess".

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Argentina edge out Venezuela as Messi lights up Kolkata

argentina_celebrateThe first International friendly between two foreign sides on Indian soil did not produce fireworks but it did not disappoint either. Football crazy Kolkata descended on the Salt Lake Stadium to catch a glimpse of the star of the show, Lionel Messi. The first half was a tepid affair, with both sides struggling to hit the final pass. Messi was unsurprisingly at the heart of all Argentine moves. Venezuela also showed great quality down the wings as they had two great chances during the 1st half. Cesar Gonzalez was the main threat for Venezuela as he twice tested Sergio Romero in goal. A goal finally arrived in the 68th minute as Nicolas Otamendi headed in Messi's corner. The goal scoring opportunities dried up following the goal as the Argentines cruised to full time to win 1-0.

Alejandro Sabella put out a strong side on his first match as Argentine Manager, with the big three of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain getting a start up front. Javier Mascherano protected the back four from his defensive midfield role. Marseille's Lucho Gonzalez took up the creative midfield role, with the highly rated Ricardo Alvarez completing the midfield three. Sergio Romero was in goal, behind a back four of Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Pablo Zabaleta and Faustino Rojo.

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Messi comes visiting : Argentina vs Venezuela in India

messi2It will the same players taking the field on September 2, but there will be a drastic change of scenario when Argentina face Venezuela in an international friendly at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. A country known for its football followers, but not for its football players, will be treated to a game that will witness a dazzling array of stars ply their trade in front of an expected 120,000-capacity crowd in the football crazy city of Kolkata. The encounter will also be new Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella's first game in charge of the national side, this after former head Sergio Batista was sacked following a poor Copa America campaign.

The Argentinian side will travel to Bangladesh to face Nigeria for the second-leg of their visit across the Indian subcontinent on September 6.

The Venue :

The game will be played at the 120,000-seater Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, which earlier had played host to Oliver Kahn's final match for Bayern Munich in May 2008. The ground, newly revamped and refurbished, is the second-largest stadium in the world in terms of capacity, and a large attendance is expected for the encounter between Argentina and Venezuela in the city where Diego Maradona is worshipped by many like a demigod. In fact, it won't be a surprise if the number of people waiting outside the stadium just to catch a glimpse of the little legend vastly out number the fanatics inside!

The Teams:

Argentina

New Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella has named a strong squad for his debut game as Argentina manager, choosing a largely-European based squad for the fixtures against Venezuela and Nigeria. The Albicelestes have the likes of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and new Manchester City signing Sergio Aguero partnering Lionel Messi in attack, with the Barcelona man's club teammate Javier Mascherano leading a midfield consisting of Javier Pastore, Angel di Maria and Ever Banega. Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolas Burdisso are all big names at the back, with Sergio Romero expected to start in goal for the three-time World Cup winners. A big absentee however, is wantaway Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, who has been deemed as excess to requirements.

Argentina face Nigeria in Dhaka, Bangladesh soon after their game in Kolkata, with both games expected to serve as a lead-up to their crucial World Cup qualifier against Chile in October.

Goalkeepers : Sergio Romero (Sampdoria, Italy), Mariano Andujar (Catania, Italy), Esteban Andrada (Lanus)

Defenders : Martin Demichelis (Malaga, Spain), Federico Fernandez (Napoli, Italy), Nicolas Burdisso (Roma, Italy), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica, Portugal), Nicolas Otamendi (Porto, Portugal), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, England), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle United, England), Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Nicolas Pareja and Marcos Rojo (both Spartak Moscow, Russia)

Midfielders : Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, Spain), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, Spain), Ever Banega (Valencia, Spain), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan, Italy), Fabian Rinaudo (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Lucho Gonzalez (Marseille, France), Jose Sosa (Metalist, Ukraine)

Strikers : Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid, Spain), Eduardo Salvio (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, England), Lisandro Lopez (Lyon, France)

Venezuela

With all the hype surrounding the Argentinian side's arrival to India, one has almost ignored the Venezuelan side that did brilliantly to end fourth in the Copa America held earlier this year. Head coach Cesar Farias has chosen a strong contingent for the one-off encounter, with 31-year old attacking midfielder Juan Arango leading the side. Other big names include striker Salomon Rondon, who plays for Andalusian side Malaga, Hamburg midfielder Tomas Rincon and Getafe striker Nicolas Fedor.

Goalkeepers : Renny Vega, Rafael Romo, Daniel Hernandez

Defenders : Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Roberto Rosales, Gabriel Cichero, Rolf Feltscher, Fernando Amorebieta, Rohel Briceno, Andres Tunez

Midfielders : Franco Signorelli, Josmar Zambrano, Tomas Rincon, Yohandry Orozco, Cesar Gonzalez, Raul Gonzalez, Juan Arango, Frank Feltscher, Julio Alvarez, Luis Manuel Seijas

Strikers : Nicolas Fedor, Salomon Rondon, Mario Rondon, Josef Martinez

The Ball :

All eyes, as is the norm, will be on Lionel Messi, but instead of seeing the World Player of the Year prance around the pitch with a Jabulani or the Nike Seitiro, there will be an Indian-made NIVIA ball by his side. Organisers have been insistent that the 'Simbolo', which is on the FIFA list of approved match balls, will add an Indian touch to the game, and will go a long way in promoting the game in the country.

Predictions:

Regardless of the tie being a friendly, crowds are expected to be large, and the reception likely to be vociferous, with the Argentinian side, and Messi in specific, sure to get a rousing welcome. However, as far as the game is concerned, both teams will be wary of possible injuries to their stars and would want to safeguard their players on the artificial turf of Salt Lake Stadium, which has earlier been put under scrutiny by Indian clubs.

Argentina will start as favourites for the encounter, and will be looking to give their new manager a successful start to his stint at the helm of the national side.

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel

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An introduction to Modern Fencing

Classical Fencing was steeped in the art of bloody duel, but Modern Fencing has moved towards the spectrum of 'tactical sport'. Modern Fencing, also termed as "collegiate" fencing, Olympic fencing or Strip fencing, emanates from classical fencing with the aim of no longer having to draw blood from the opponent but rather touch the opponent with one of the three weapons. In modern fencing, participants compete in a rectangular strip (also called as piste) of floor whose width roughly ranges from 5.9 to 5.5ft with the length equalling approximately 46ft. The fencer has a cord attached to him, which is connected to a reel on either short side of the strip. Each cord that is pooled on a reel is connected to the scoring machine.

The highlight of Modern fencing is the use of electronic scoring equipment. This system requires additional clothing for the foil and saber. The Non-Electric scoring panel had a president who was assisted by four judges, with two judges positioned behind each fencer and one on each side of the strip. A judge, who raised his hand when he spotted an attack, had one vote while the president had one and a half votes. However, the president had the final say if the judges disagreed or one of the judge abstained.

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A look back at Classical Fencing

The emergence of fencing coincided with the decline of Feudalism and the rise of Bourgeois culture. But it was never a military art per se. Today, there are two distinct philosophies in fencing. The first is referred to as "Olympic style" or "Sport", where fencing is concerned as an athletic contest. The second is Classical Fencing with the use of the three modern weapons (Foil, Epee and saber), which tends towards the "elements of culture" rather than the sports spectrum. The classical period began in the second half of 19th century. Though it is difficult to come up with a hard and fast definition of what "Classical" means, this period is generally termed the "Golden Age" as the art scaled its highest peaks during this period.

Contemporary Classical Fencing can also be defined as martial art with the greater emphasis on art. During this period, the sword had its use restricted to the formalized combat of duel with its various conventions. Classical Fencing is a highly precise technical form of fencing which involves relatively less emphasis on footwork and concentrates more on blade skills. There was a clear distinction between the French and the Italian schools in this era and it saw the establishment of national academies. Classical fencing affords us a "Standard or a model that has enduring value". A classical fencer strives hard to execute highly specialized skills with an unusual degree of ability in accordance with standards that were established aesthetically.

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