What is Fencing

Fencing is a very old traditional and prestigious Olympic sport that is a challenge to both body and mind, requiring a blend of patience, determination, discipline and competitiveness.

Fencing develops dexterity, endurance, flexibility, grace, and overall fitness, while also allowing participants the opportunity to hone the mind's problem -solving abilities. It is easily learning and, it has even melded to fit the needs of the blind and individuals using wheelchairs. This is sport for everyone.

Fencing provides a unique mix of physical, intellectual and emotional stimulation. It is a great way to get or stay fit and meet new people.

Physical benefits

• a perfect form of cardiovascular exercise. It is a fast-paced activity that gets the heart pumping and oxygen flowing
• helps develop muscle strength, flexibility and coordination. The diverse array of positions and movements in fencing requires pin point precision and power.
• allows you to burn calories, lose weight and tone up

Mental benefits

Fencing is also a workout for the mind, requiring split second thinking to outwit your opponent.
• helps relieve stress and be a great way to let off steam and frustration
• helps develop powers of observation and understanding of strategy
• helps develop judgment and deduction skills so as to anticipate your opponent's actions
• help develop problem solving skills

Social benefits

Fencing is a very social activity that provides regular interaction with other like-minded individuals. Fencing can help boost your self esteem and promote self discipline, self assurance, and responsibility.



The main object of a fencing bout (what an individual "game" is called) is to effectively score 15 points (in direct elimination play) or five points (in preliminary pool play) on your opponent before he scores that number on you. Each time a fencer scores a touch, he receives a point. Direct elimination matches consist of three three-minute period



The epee is a light duelling sword characterized by its large bell guard. Like the foil, it is a thrust only weapon, and its real steel counterpart would only have a sharp tip. Its large bell guard is designed to assist in protecting the weapon hand and arm. The epee differs from foil in its target area. The epee's target area is the entire body from head to toe. The target area of epee is intended to reflect the nature of a real duel where anything goes, and your opponent will attack any open target area. The epee is an unconventional weapon and has no Right of Way. As a result double touches can be scored in epee. The epee is unique as a sword because it was only intended for use in duels. Unlike other swords, it had no role in war or self-defense.



The foil is the only weapon used that does not have a real steel counterpart. It was invented solely for the purpose of teaching and learning fencing. In its earliest form, the foil was nothing more than a sword that had been rendered safe or "foiled". Often, foiling a sword was achieved by putting a piece of cork or a ball on the tip of the blade. This process made fencing lessons much safer and more successful. Later, specific practice weapons were developed, and they were given the name "foil". The foil's target area consists of the body's torso excluding the arms, the legs, and the head. The foil's target area is considered to be deadly, meaning a single hit could kill an opponent. When fencing was still taught for duelling practices, fencing masters thought it best to assure their students the easiest and earliest possible victory in hopes that they would have a repeat customer. The foil is a thrust only weapon, if it were a real weapon only the tip would be sharp and hits could only be made by thrusting your opponent with the tip. The foil is also considered a conventional weapon. Being a conventional weapon means that the foil is governed by a rule called "Right of Way".



The saber is believed to have descended from the Middle Eastern scimitar. Historically, it came in three forms: the dueling saber, the cavalry saber, and the naval saber (cutlass). Each type of saber was specialized for a specific type of combat. The dueling saber was lighter and more closely resembles the form of saber fencing practiced today. The cavalry saber was much heavier and was used from horseback. The naval saber (cutlass) was shorter so that it could be more easily maneuvered in the close quarters of fighting at sea. It was also thick like a machete allowing it to be used to attack the enemy's vessel as well as the enemy. If the rigging on the enemy's ship was destroyed, victory could be attained by sailing away and coming back with cannons firing on the immobile ship. The saber's target area consists of everything above the hips (including the arms and the head). There are two theories for the purpose of the saber's target area. Some believe it is leftover from when saber was practiced on horseback. From the waist up is the only accessible target on a mounted opponent. Others say it is a matter of practicality. Attacking an opponent's legs leaves you open and does nothing to stop your opponent from attacking you. The saber is both a thrusting and a cutting weapon. Its real steel counterparts have a sharp tip, a sharp edge down the front, and a sharp edge a third of the way down the back. The saber is a conventional weapon and is governed by Right of Way.

When you are attacked, you must defend or parry the attack.This parry gives you the priority to hit back, called the riposte. It's this priority system that gives fencing its sequences of attack and defense, with the priority changing from side to side like a rally in tennis. This physical exchange is practiced over and over again, so that the fencer is constantly aware of the changing priority, and can eventually achieve split-second control of his/her reactions.

With such a well-designed system of defense, you need more than just physical speed to score touches. By bluffing and faking, you have to somehow provoke and deceive this system of defense. You have to fake, to convince your opponent you intend to attack, and when he/she attempts to parry, you deceive to score.

Scoring touches in fencing is more than just a matter of physical speed, its a matter of tactics. Tactics are based on the fact that every attack can be parried, but every parry can be deceived! Fencing is a sport that not only physically taxes the body for split-second control of attack and defense, but also incorporates tactical cunning, to fake and mislead, in an attempt to outsmart your opponent. Tactics are as simple or as complex as each opponent, and those tactics can change in the course of a bout. It's this uncertainty that creates the challenge and the excitement of this combative, modern Olympic sport.


Fencing Terms Glossary

Absence of blade: when the blades are not touching; opposite of engagement.

Advance: a movement forward by step, cross, or balestra.

Aids: the last three fingers of the sword hand.

Analysis: reconstruction of the fencing phrase to determine priority of touches.

Assault: friendly combat between two fencers.

Attack: the initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent.

Attack au Fer: an attack that is prepared by deflecting the opponent's blade, eg. beat, press, froissement.

Backsword: an archaic, edged, unpointed sword used in prizefighting; also singlestick.

Balestra: a forward hop or jump, typically followed by an attack such as a lunge or fleche.

Bayonet: a type of electrical connector for foil and sabre.

Beat: an attempt to knock the opponent's blade aside or out of line by using one's foible or middle against the opponent's foible.

Baudry point: a safety collar placed around a live epee point to prevent dangerous penetration.

Bind: an action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the diagonally opposite line.

Black Card: used to indicate the most serious offences in a fencing competition. The offending fencer is usually expelled from the event or tournament.

Bout: an assault at which the score is kept.

Broadsword: any sword intended for cutting instead of thrusting; sabre.

Broken Time: a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer's actions, used to fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time.

Button: the safety tip on the end of practice and sporting swords.

Change of Engagement: engagement of the opponent's blade in the opposite line.

Commanding the blade: grabbing the opponent's blade with the off-hand, illegal in sport fencing.

Compound: also composed; an action executed in two or more movements; an attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints.

Conversation: the back-and-forth play of the blades in a fencing match, composed of phrases (phrases d'armes) punctuated by gaps of no blade action.

Counter-attack: an offensive action made against the right-of-way, or in response to the opponent's attack.

Counter-disengage: a disengage in the opposite direction, to deceive the counter-parry.

Counter-parry: a parry made in the opposite line to the attack; ie. the defender first comes around to the opposite side of the opponent's blade.

Counter-riposte: an attack that follows a parry of the opponent's riposte.

Counter-time: an attack that responds to the opponent's counter-attack, typically a riposte following the parry of the counter-attack.

Corps-a-corps: lit. "body-to-body"; physical contact between the two fencers during a bout, illegal in foil and sabre.

Coule': also graze, glise', or glissade; an attack or feint that slides along the opponent's blade.

Coup lance': a launched hit; an attack that starts before a stop in play but lands after. Valid for normal halts, but not valid at end of time.

Coupe': also cut-over; an attack or deception that passes around the opponent's tip.

Croise: also semi-bind; an action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the high or low line on the same side.

Cross: an advance or retreat by crossing one leg over the other; also passe' avant (forward cross), passe' arriere (backwards cross).

Cut: an attack made with a chopping motion of the blade, normally landing with the edge.

Deception: avoidance of an attempt to engage the blades; see disengage, coupe'

Derobement: deception of the attack au fer or prise de fer.

Direct: a simple attack or riposte that finishes in the same line in which it was formed, with no feints out of that line.

Disengage: a circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent's parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of engagement.

Displacement: moving the target to avoid an attack; dodging.

Double: in epee, two attacks that arrive within 40-50 ms of each other.

Double-time: also "dui tempo"; parry-riposte as two distinct actions.

Double': an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle around the opponent's blade, and finishes in the opposite line.

Dry: also steam; fencing without electric judging aids.

Engagement: when the blades are in contact with each other, eg. during a parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule'.

En Garde: also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that fencers assume when preparing to fence.

Envelopment: an engagement that sweeps the opponent's blade through a full circle.

Epee: a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light duelling sword of similar design, popular in the mid-19th century; epee de terrain; duelling sword.

False: an action that is intended to fail, but draw a predicted reaction from the opponent; also, the back edge of a sabre blade.

Feint: an attack into one line with the intention of switching to another line before the attack is completed.

Fencing Time: also temps d'escrime; the time required to complete a single, simple fencing action.

FIE: Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.

Finta in tempo: lit. "feint in time"; a feint of counter-attack that draws a counter-time parry, which is decieved; a compound counter-attack.

Fleche: lit. "arrow"; an attack in which the aggressor leaps off his leading foot, attempts to make the hit, and then passes the opponent at a run.

Flick: a cut-like action that lands with the point, often involving some whip of the foible of the blade to "throw" the point around a block or other obstruction.

Florentine: an antiquated fencing style where a secondary weapon or other instrument is used in the off hand.

Flying Parry or Riposte: a parry with a backwards glide and riposte by cut-over.

Foible: the upper, weak part of the blade.

Foil: a fencing weapon with rectangular cross-section blade and a small bell guard; any sword that has been buttoned to render it less dangerous for practice.

Forte: the lower, strong part of the blade.

French Grip: a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel.

Froissement: an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a strong grazing action.

Fuller: the groove that runs down a sword blade to reduce weight.

Glide: see coule'.

Guard: the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit.  Also, the defensive position assumed when not attacking.

Hilt: the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip, and pommel.

Homologated: certified for use in FIE competitions, eg. 800N clothing and maraging blades.

In Quartata: a counter-attack made with a quarter turn to the inside, concealing the front but exposing the back.

In Time: at least one fencing time before the opposing action, especially with regards to a stop-hit.

Indirect: a simple attack or riposte that finishes in the opposite line to which it was formed.

Insistence: forcing an attack through the parry.

Interception: a counter-attack that intercepts and checks an indirect attack or other disengagement.

Invitation: a line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent to attack.

Italian Grip: a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.

Judges: additional officials who assist the referee in detecting illegal or invalid actions, such as floor judges or hand judges.

Jury: the 4 officials who watch for hits in a dry fencing bout.

Kendo: Japanese fencing, with two-handed swords.

Lame': a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil and sabre.

Line: the main direction of an attack (eg., high/low, inside/outside), often equated to the parry that must be made to deflect the attack; also point in line.

Lunge: an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent front leg.

Mal-parry: also mal-pare'; a parry that fails to prevent the attack from landing.

Manipulators: the thumb and index finger of the sword hand.

Maraging: a special steel used for making blades; said to be stronger and break more cleanly than conventional steels.

Marker Points: an old method of detecting hits using inked points.

Martingale: a strap that binds the grip to the wrist or forearm.

Match: the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.

Measure: the distance between the fencers.

Middle: the middle third of the blade, between foible and forte.

Moulinet: a whirling cut, executed from the wrist or elbow.

Neuvieme: an unconventional parry (#9) sometimes described as blade behind the back, pointing down (a variant of octave), other times similar to elevated sixte.

Octave: parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.

Opposition: holding the opponent's blade in a non-threatening line; a time-hit; any attack or counter-attack with opposition.

Parry: a block of the attack, made with the forte of one's own blade; also parade.

Pass: an attack made with a cross; eg. fleche. Also, the act of moving past the opponent.

Passata-sotto: a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.

Passe': an attack that passes the target without hitting; also a cross-step (see cross).

Phrase: a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.

Pineapple tip: a serrated epee point used prior to electric judging.

Piste: the linear strip on which a fencing bout is fought; approximately 2m wide and 14m long.

Pistol Grip: a modern, orthopaedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol; varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.

Plaque': a point attack that lands flat.

Plastron: a partial jacket worn for extra protection; typically a half-jacket worn under the main jacket on the weapon-arm side of the body.

Point: a valid touch; the tip of the sword; the mechanical assembly that makes up the point of an electric weapon; an attack made with the point (ie. a thrust)

Point in Line: also line; an extended arm and blade that threatens the opponent.

Pommel: a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.

Preparation: a non-threatening action intended to create the opening for an attack; the initial phase of an attack, before right-of-way is established.

Presentation: offering one's blade for engagement by the opponent.

Press: an attempt to push the opponent's blade aside or out of line; depending on the opponent's response, the press is followed by a direct or indirect attack.

Prime: parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.

Principle of Defence: the use of forte against foible when parrying.

Priority: in sabre, the now-superceded rules that decide which fencer will be awarded the touch in the event that they both attack simultaneously; also used synonymously with right-of-way.

Prise de Fer: also taking the blade; an engagement of the blades that forces the opponent's weapon into a new line. See: bind, croise, envelopment, opposition.

Quarte: parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.

Quinte: parry #5; blade up and to the inside, wrist pronated.  In sabre, the blade is held above the head to protect from head cuts.

Rapier: a long, double-edged thrusting sword popular in the 16th-17th centuries.

Red Card: used to indicate repeated minor rule infractions or a major rule infraction by one of the fencers; results in a point being given to the other fencer.

Redoublement: a new action that follows an attack that missed or was parried; renewal of a failed attack in the opposite line; alternatively see Reprise.

Referee: also director, president; the mediator of the fencing bout.

Remise: immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried, without withdrawing the arm.

Reprise: renewal of an attack that missed or was parried, after a return to en-garde; alternatively see Redoublement.

Retreat: step back; opposite of advance.

Ricasso: the portion of the tang between the grip and the blade, present on Italian hilts and most rapiers.

Right-of-way: rules for awarding the point in the event of a double touch in foil or sabre.

Riposte: an offensive action made immediately after a parry of the opponent's attack.

Sabre: a fencing weapon with a flat blade and knuckle guard, used with cutting or thrusting actions; a military sword popular in the 18th to 20th centuries; any cutting sword used by cavalry.

Salle: a fencing hall or club.

Salute: with the weapon, a customary acknowledgement of one's opponent and referee at the start and end of the bout.

Schlager: German fraternity duelling sword, used with cuts to the face and no footwork.

Second Intention: a false action used to draw a response from the opponent, which will open the opportunity for the intended action that follows, typically a counter-riposte.

Seconde: parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.

Septime: parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.

Simple: executed in one movement; an attack or riposte that involves no feints.

Simultaneous: in foil and sabre, two attacks for which the right-of-way is too close to determine.

Single Stick: an archaic form of fencing with basket-hilted wooden sticks.

Single-time: also "stesso tempo"; parry-riposte as a single action.

Sixte: parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.

Small Sword: a light duelling sword popular in the 17th-18th centuries, precursor to the foil.

Stop Hit: a counter-attack that hits; also a counter-attack whose touch is valid by virtue of it's timing.

Stop Cut: a stop-hit with the edge in sabre, typically to the cuff.

Three Prong: a type of epee body wire/connector; also an old-fashioned tip that would snag clothing, to make it easier to detect hits in the pre-electric era.

Thrown Point: a "flick".

Thrust: an attack made by moving the sword parallel to its length and landing with the point.

Tierce: parry #3; blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.

Time Hit: also time-thrust; old name for stop hit with opposition.

Trompement: deception of the parry.

Two Prong: a type of body-wire/connector, used in foil and sabre.

Whip-over: in sabre, a touch that results from the foible of the blade whipping over the opponent's guard or blade when parried.

Whites: fencing clothing.

Yellow Card: also advertisement, warning; used to indicate a minor rule infraction by one of the fencers.


If you have any questions please contact us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.