Computer Sciences Dept.

Dan Gibson


Note: I have graduated and moved on. This page is no longer up-to-date.
Dan Gibson on Google Sites.

If anyone knows the original, citable source of the following quote, please send me mail (even if it ends up not belonging to Seymour Cray).

 If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use: Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens?
    --Attributed to Seymour Cray

oxen 1kchicken

Now available: fencing pictures!

I am on the left in these photos. My opponent is Jake Adriaens, a colleage and friend. We are practicing with our Renaissance-era Rapiers and Daggers. Rapier, with or without the dagger, is a so-called archaic form--not because it is no longer practiced, but because it is not an olympic form like Saber, Foil, and Epee.
In this photo, I am using the dagger guard low ward, which means my dagger-side foot is forward, and both weapons are pointed toward my oponnent. Jake's stance is is not quite wide enough in this shot to be [stable | considered a low ward].


Jake has adopted a much better stance, and is preparing to attack. Now would be a good time to point out the equiment in use here. For now, ignore Jake, as his equiment is improvised.

  • First, notice the fencing masks. These are made of mesh in the front, but are surprisingly tough. I have taken thrusts, head-butts, punches, etc. to the face mask without damage (to my face, at least).
  • Next, there are the weapons. The longer is the rapier, the shorter is the dagger. The dagger is usually used defensively as a parrying device. The rapier is used primarily for thrusting, but can occasionally slash as well. These weapons are blunted (notice the duct tape holding the blunts on), and are quite flexible. It still hurts to take a direct thrust, but it is quite non-lethal.
  • The most important piece of equipment in a fencer's equipment chest are the gloves. Without them, hodling the weapon would be quite painful after only a few interchanges.
  • Notice that underneath the black padded jacket, I am wearing a white fencing coat. This is a so-called "puncture-proof" jacket. Should a weapon break, it would become a sharp, potentially lethal object. In theory, blows made accidentally with broken blades will not penetrate one of these jackets (yea, right).
  • I am also wearing some other armor--kneepads, a thighpad, an elbow pad, a gorge (not visible). These are essentially optional, but usually a good idea when Jake is around.


Jake attacked a moment ago, and I adopted a strategy of "parry by distance," that is, I retreated. My strategy is to often retreat, then return in attack. Jake will become accustomed to to my retreating, and will be more brazen in his attacks, until finally, I do not retreat, and instead introduce my blade to his [unprotected] torso.


Here I am returing the attack. I have slightly misjudged the distance in this attack, as you can see that the tip of my blade is falling short of Jake's torso. This sometimes happens, especially when fencing in the dark.


Once again, we have both returned to the low ward--notice that both daggers are well placed to deflect blows from the rapiers.

And now...on to some non-fencing photographs.


My wife, Megan, and I, on our recent visit to Seattle.


A caricature-like image of me--with a piece of my forehead missing for no apparent reason.



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