Japan and Fencing


No, this is not some post talking about the relationship between the East Asian nation and my sport of choice. It’s just a link to some photos from my recent trip to Japan, and a notice that there’s a relatively long stretch of Sabre fencing in a recent commercial for the GMC Denali. As I recall, they talk about grace and performance, which I suppose fencing and SUVs have in common, or something. In recent years it seems that there’s been more fencing in commercials, though I could just be ignorant of prior incidents. I can remember off the top of my head fencing in commercials for Target, Silk soy milk, some financial company, Food Network…and at least a couple of others. The Denali commercial features Sabre fencing, the flavor closest in appearance to stage fencing, with lots of slashes and dramatic cuts. Interestingly, the next-to-last shot shows the fencer on the right doing a sort of jumping lunge (perhaps with the help of a cable, I didn’t catch it with enough attention to see how realistic it looked) while the other fencer ducks and presents the tip of his (or her) blade: the final shot shows that tip contacting the right side of the lunging fencer’s upper torso. However, if I have my sabre rules correct (and I might not), if the lunging fencer manages a successful cut to the mask, then they should have priority, and thus the point.

Oh, you wanted something linguistic? Well, it seems that denali is the (west-central) Athabaskan name for Mt. McKinley, translating (according to most web sources) as `the high one.’ Don’t know anything about the morphology of the language, so at the moment I’m assuming it’s an adjective with person/number/etc morphology on it.

3 Comments so far

  1. The Tensor on June 3rd, 2006

    The Wife called me in the other day to watch that very commercial because she knew I’d be interested. It was a hard to be sure because the commercial was in black and white, but it looked like the fencers were inexplicably wearing foil lames while fencing (dry) saber.

  2. Robb Fencer on September 5th, 2006

    Howdy! I happened apon your post here… I haven’t seen this commercial yet!! (but I got a 3 year old and one on the way, so the only TV I get is Anpanman)… I hope I get to see it before it ends… Gotta check out if they’re really wearin foil lames.

    Do you come to Japan often? If you get a chance, drop by at my club next time… http://www.IwataFencing.com

    We’re south of Tokyo in Shizuoka Prefecture. The club just started in Nov of 2005 but we’re doin pretty good with about 15 members…

    Tchau,
    Robb -)——-

  3. Russell on September 5th, 2006

    Robb: thanks for the message! I don’t go to Japan all that often, though I haven’t been to Shizuoka yet, so I might be in town at some point. When I was studying in Osaka for a year, I actually took up Kendo rather than continue fencing, since the nearest clubs were inconveniently far away from where I was living (either in the main city or at a far-off Osaka Univeristy campus), and I found the the clubs rather not welcoming of outsiders/newcomers.