Photos: The art of swordsmanship at the oldest fencing club in Paris

In a small room in the French capital’s Latin quarters steel rings against steel as swords slam and the scent of leather mingles with sweat. At the Salle d’Armes Coudurier, students learn from Master Jean-Pierre Pinel La Taule that fencing is not just a sport, but an art form. Since 1886, the club has kept alive a tradition, spirit, honour and harmony of the pure sport that modern practitioners say has been lost to the advances of competitive styles.

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST 8 Photos
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Members attend a training session at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier in central Paris, France. Things are still done the old fashioned way here, at the oldest fencing club in Paris, keeping the gentleman’s traditions of the sport alive. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Members attend a training session at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier in central Paris, France. Things are still done the old fashioned way here, at the oldest fencing club in Paris, keeping the gentleman’s traditions of the sport alive. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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Vintage epees are displayed at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club was established over a century ago in 1886, a full decade before the modern Olympic Games, where fencing is a competitive sport. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Vintage epees are displayed at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club was established over a century ago in 1886, a full decade before the modern Olympic Games, where fencing is a competitive sport. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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As is the tradition, each new student who arrives at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier faces the master of arms, Jean-Pierre Pinel de La Taule, and performs some exercises against his leather chest. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

As is the tradition, each new student who arrives at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier faces the master of arms, Jean-Pierre Pinel de La Taule, and performs some exercises against his leather chest. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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Since 1971, De Pinel has been teaching a finer form of fencing where manners on the mat and courtesy towards fellow fencers are as important as gesture control, balance, flexibility and coordination. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Since 1971, De Pinel has been teaching a finer form of fencing where manners on the mat and courtesy towards fellow fencers are as important as gesture control, balance, flexibility and coordination. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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Members attend a training session at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club still lives by the epithets of ‘classic’ fencing, a different game compared to the modern sporting style. The perfection of the gestures and a harmonious execution is valued over sheer physical effort. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Members attend a training session at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club still lives by the epithets of ‘classic’ fencing, a different game compared to the modern sporting style. The perfection of the gestures and a harmonious execution is valued over sheer physical effort. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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The cloakroom is pictured at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. Eschewing the modern style, the club maintains its 7 metre long leather mats and keeps them at just half a metre wide, compared to the modern specifications of 15 metres by 1.5 metres. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

The cloakroom is pictured at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. Eschewing the modern style, the club maintains its 7 metre long leather mats and keeps them at just half a metre wide, compared to the modern specifications of 15 metres by 1.5 metres. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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Master Jean-Pierre Pinel La Taule conducts a training session. Fencing enthusiasts meet every night with Wednesdays dedicated to children. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Master Jean-Pierre Pinel La Taule conducts a training session. Fencing enthusiasts meet every night with Wednesdays dedicated to children. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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Masks and vintage epees are displayed along with an old school leaderboard at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club, located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, is open to everyone. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

Masks and vintage epees are displayed along with an old school leaderboard at the Salle d’Armes Coudurier. The club, located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, is open to everyone. (Charles Platiau / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2019 09:51 AM IST
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