The effect of joint angle differences on blade velocity in elite and novice saber fencers: A kinematic study
(1) Regis High School, New York City, New York
After many years of training, elite saber fencers exhibit extremely rapid blade velocity. However, no prior kinematic research has explained how fencers achieve this. In this work, we measure the influence of arm kinematics on blade velocity in both elite and novice saber fencers. We hypothesized that elite fencers would exhibit smaller elbow joint angle and wrist angle changes, both indicative of blade thrust optimization. Furthermore, we predicted that these kinematic variables would correlate positively with peak blade tip velocity. Three novice and three elite saber fencers of two and six years of experience, respectively, performed a standard vertical saber cut, which we captured on high frame rate video. We discovered a significant difference between the novice and elite elbow joint angle at initiation, the angle at termination, and the angle change. The elbow joint angle change exhibited a strong negative correlation with the peak blade tip velocity (r = -0.83). We determined that angular differences in the wrist were non-significant. Our results suggest that coaches should place greater importance on optimizing elbow joint angles earlier in training. Based on the elite fencer performance, our evidence suggests that the optimal elbow joint angle at initiation for saber fencers may be 110°.
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