Michel Alaux

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Maitre Michel Alaux (1924–1974) was a French-American world renowned[1] fencing master, Hall of Fame Olympic coach, key figure in developing official US fencing standards, and author. He was hailed as a "genius" in his field for his holistic approach.[2] Historically, he bridged classical and modern Olympic fencing, approaching the sport as an art and science.[3][4] He is credited with fusing, through his teaching and writing, nationally originated techniques into an international style.[5]


He graduated from the rigorous military college, le Fort Carre d'Antibes,[3][6][7] in 1947, and immediately established himself in his club, L'Association Jean Louis in Montpellier, France. There, he trained a number of foil and épée champions,[8] the most illustrious being Christian D'Oriola, the greatest French foil fencer of all times,[9] named Fencer of the 20th Century[10] by the FIE, International Fencing Federation.

At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Christian d'Oriola won two Gold medals for Individual and Team foil, spectacularly winning all ten bouts in the Team events.[3] The French national press Le Monde and Le Figaro congratulated Maitre Alaux,[11][12] noting the affinity and friendship between student and teacher, both in their twenties- four years apart.

Michel Alaux was awarded two Medals of Honor[13] by the French Government's Ministry of Sports in recognition of his contribution to fencing: Bronze, in 1949, for the World Championships, followed by Gold, in 1952, for the Helsinki Olympics.[3][14]

In 1956, Michel Alaux was invited to the US by the NY Fencers Club . He served three times as US Fencing Olympic coach: 1964 Summer Olympics, Tokyo; 1968 Summer Olympics, Mexico City; 1972 Summer Olympics, Munich; and several times US Nationals, Pan American, and World Championship coach.[5] He remained head fencing master[14] of the NY Fencers Club[15] until his death in 1974, at the age of fifty.

In the course of his US fencing career, Michel Alaux played a key role in developing American fencing official standards and professional requirements.[2] He chaired the 1962–63 U.S. Committee which developed A Text for Defining Fencing Terms.[3] He chaired and directed the committee which devised the official examination for the first professional diploma of Fencing Master in the US (1965).[16]

A passionate exponent of fencing, and seen as a glamorous figure by the media,[17] he served as fencing consultant to TV, newspapers & magazines.[3]

He was a contributor to US, UK, and French fencing journals.[18] He is the author of Modern Fencing (Charles Scribner's Sons New York. 1975. ISBN 684141167).

For his contributions to sports education and culture, he was inducted into l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques in 1962.

Following his death in 1974, twelve annual US Grand Open competitions (1975–1987) were named after him: the Michel Alaux Grand Open was a three day international event "considered essentially the same as the Nationals".[19] He was inducted into the US Fencing Hall of Fame in 2006.[20]

Footnotes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Czajkowskiego, Profesora Zbigniewa (29 May 2005). "The Essence and Importance of Timing (Sense of Surprise) in Fencing". Retrieved 24 May 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Gradkowski, Richard (Mar–April 1975). "Michel Alaux". American Fencing 26 (4). 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Biography". Michel Alaux, Fencing Master. 
  4. ^ Alaux, Michel (1975). Modern Fencing. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 684141167 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  5. ^ a b Blanc, Eugene (1975). "Preface". Modern Fencing. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 684141167 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  6. ^ "Gallery". Michel Alaux, Fencing Master. 
  7. ^ Mercier, Alain (April 2002). "Fencing, A Perennial French Specialty". Label France/ Magazine (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (46). 
  8. ^ In addition to Christian d'Oriola, Michel Alaux trained French champions Rene Bougnol, Francois Romieu, Baudoux, Rigal, Raoul Marques at his salle, L'Association Jean Louis.
  9. ^ Fédération Française d'Escrime, "D'Oriola". COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE, 30 Oct 2007
  10. ^ "Highlights of the Week: Week of 29 October 2007". Olympic.org – Official website of the Olympic Movement. 2007. 
  11. ^ Rommel, Adrien (2 August 1952). "L'Escrime A Helsinki". Le Monde (in French) (France). 
  12. ^ Bontemps, Louis (3 September 1952). "Apres Les Succes de d'Oriola aux Jeux, Rendons a Cesar...". Le Figaro (in French) (France). 
  13. ^ "La Médaille de la Jeunesse et des Sports". le Comité Départemental de Seine et Marne de la Fédération Française des Médaillés de la Jeunesse et des Sports (in French). 
  14. ^ a b Blanc, Eugene (Mar–April 1975). "Michel Alaux". American Fencing 26 (4). 
  15. ^ His notable students at the NY Fencers Club (1956–1974) included Neal Cohen, Herbert Cohen, Jeffrey Checkes, James Melcher, John Nonna, Ruth White.
  16. ^ "Alaux, Michel". US Fencing Association Hall of Fame. 
  17. ^ Wallace, Kevin (March 1958). "Onward and Upward with the Arts. Salle D'Armes". The New Yorker. 
  18. ^ Michel Alaux‘s articles (1948 to 1974) were published in Le Bulletin des Maitres d'Armes; L'Equipe; L'Escrime Francaise; The Fencing Master (UK); American Fencing; The Swordmaster. He served as consultant for the "Encyclopedia Americana" and other source materials.
  19. ^ Pitt, David E. (12 January 1987). "Fencing Taking Big Steps". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2007. 
  20. ^ Shaw, Andy. US Fencing Historian, US Fencing Hall of Fame, 2006.

External links[edit]