A scene in my novel The War of the Worlds and Fairies involves a fairy and a pixie demonstrating épée practice—épées are thicker than foils, with a triangular cross section. Then I remembered a girl in the youth group at my church who wore a shirt indicating she was part of a local fencing group.
So I asked the assistant pastor if he could point me in the direction of that girl. He knew who she was, but added that a young woman who spent time with the youth group was actually more involved with fencing. So I asked the woman if she fenced, and she said no.
Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she added that she had fenced a few years ago. But she said her father knew more about it.
I know her father better than I know her, so I went and asked him about it. He immediately brought up the subject of épées, and added the story of how a Russian fencing master was at the place where he practiced. This Russian master would barely move his torso, just move around with his feet as he fended off attacks, then get in a hit with a quick, short move.
So I was within one degree of separation of some surprisingly handy knowledge, but it just took a few steps to find it. Although I gave him a few pages describing the scene, I don’t know if anything will come of it since the fairy and pixie are flying during their practice, no footwork involved. But if you need to do some research, ask around.