fencing sword

fencing sword

fencing sword
fencing sword


Fencing[1] is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the foil, the épée, and the sabre (also saber); winning points are made through the weapon’s contact with an opponent. A fourth discipline, singlestick, appeared in the 1904 Olympics but was dropped after that, and is not a part of modern fencing. Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport arose at the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the historical European martial art of classical fencing, and the French school later refining the Italian system. There are three forms of modern fencing, each of which uses a different kind of weapon and has different rules; thus the sport itself is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, épée, and sabre. Most competitive fencers choose to specialize in one weapon only.

Competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in every modern Olympic Games, the other four being athletics, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics.

Fencing is governed by Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE). Today, its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. The FIE is composed of 145 national federations, each of which is recognised by its state Olympic Committee as the sole representative of Olympic-style fencing in that country.[2]

The FIE maintains the current rules[3] used by FIE sanctioned international events, including world cups, world championships and the Olympic Games. The FIE handles proposals to change the rules the first year after an Olympic year in the annual congress. The US Fencing Association has slightly different rules, but usually adheres to FIE standards.
fencing sword

Fencing traces its roots to the development of swordsmanship for duels and self defense. Fencing is believed to have originated in Spain; some of the most significant books on fencing were written by Spanish fencers. Treatise on Arms[4] was written by Diego de Valera between 1458 and 1471 and is one of the oldest surviving manuals on western fencing (in spite of the title, the book of Diego Valera was on heraldry, not about fencing)[5] shortly before dueling came under official ban by the Catholic Monarchs. In conquest, the Spanish forces carried fencing around the world, particularly to southern Italy, one of the major areas of strife between both nations.[6][7] Fencing was mentioned in the play The Merry Wives of Windsor written sometime prior to 1602.[8][9]

The mechanics of modern fencing originated in the 18th century in an Italian school of fencing of the Renaissance, and under their influence, were improved by the French school of fencing.[10][11] The Spanish school of fencing stagnated and was replaced by the Italian and French schools.

The shift towards fencing as a sport rather than as military training happened from the mid-18th century, and was led by Domenico Angelo, who established a fencing academy, Angelo’s School of Arms, in Carlisle House, Soho, London in 1763.[12] There, he taught the aristocracy the fashionable art of swordsmanship. His school was run by three generations of his family and dominated the art of European fencing for almost a century.
[13]

He established the essential rules of posture and footwork that still govern modern sport fencing, although his attacking and parrying methods were still much different from current practice. Although he intended to prepare his students for real combat, he was the first fencing master to emphasize the health and sporting benefits of fencing more than its use as a killing art, particularly in his influential book L’École des armes (The School of Fencing), published in 1763.[13]

Basic conventions were collated and set down during the 1880s by the French fencing master Camille Prévost. It was during this time that many officially recognised fencing associations began to appear in different parts of the world, such as the Amateur Fencers League of America was founded in 1891, the Amateur Fencing Association of Great Britain in 1902, and the Fédération Nationale des Sociétés d’Escrime et Salles d’Armes de France in 1906.[14]

The first regularized fencing competition was held at the inaugural Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms in 1880, held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, in Islington in June. The Tournament featured a series of competitions between army officers and soldiers. Each bout was fought for five hits and the foils were pointed with black to aid the judges.[15] The Amateur Gymnastic & Fencing Association drew up an official set of fencing regulations in 1896.

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  • Fencing was part of the Olympic Games in the summer of 1896. Sabre events have been held at every Summer Olympics; foil events have been held at every Summer Olympics except 1908; épée events have been held at every Summer Olympics except in the summer of 1896 because of unknown reasons.

    Starting with épée in 1933, side judges were replaced by the Laurent-Pagan electrical scoring apparatus,[16] with an audible tone and a red or green light indicating when a touch landed. Foil was automated in 1956, sabre in 1988. The scoring box reduced the bias in judging, and permitted more accurate scoring of faster actions, lighter touches, and more touches to the back and flank than before.[17]

    There are three weapons in modern fencing: foil, épée, and sabre. Each weapon has its own rules and strategies. Equipment needed includes at least 2 swords, a lamé (not for épée), a white jacket, underarm protector, two body and mask cords, knee high socks, glove and knickers.

    The foil is a light thrusting weapon with a maximum weight of 500 grams. The foil targets the torso, but not the arms or legs. The foil has a small circular hand guard that serves to protect the hand from direct stabs. As the hand is not a valid target in foil, this is primarily for safety. Touches are scored only with the tip; hits with the side of the blade do not register on the electronic scoring apparatus (and do not halt the action). Touches that land outside the target area (called an off-target touch and signaled by a distinct color on the scoring apparatus) stop the action, but are not scored. Only a single touch can be awarded to either fencer at the end of a phrase. If both fencers land touches within a close enough interval of milliseconds to register two lights on the machine, the referee uses the rules of “right of way” to determine which fencer is awarded the touch, or if an off-target hit has priority over a valid hit, in which case no touch is awarded. If the referee is unable to determine which fencer has right of way, no touch is awarded.

    The épée is a thrusting weapon like the foil, but heavier, with a maximum total weight of 775 grams. In épée, the entire body is a valid target. The hand guard on the épée is a large circle that extends towards the pommel, effectively covering the hand, which is a valid target in épée. Like foil, all hits must be with the tip and not the sides of the blade. Hits with the side of the blade do not register on the electronic scoring apparatus (and do not halt the action). As the entire body is legal target, there is no concept of an off-target touch, except if the fencer accidentally strikes the floor, setting off the light and tone on the scoring apparatus. Unlike foil and sabre, épée does not use “right of way”, and awards simultaneous touches to both fencers. However, if the score is tied in a match at the last point and a double touch is scored, the point is null and void.

    The sabre is a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, except the weapon hand. Sabre is the newest weapon to be used. Like the foil, the maximum legal weight of a sabre is 500 grams. The hand guard on the sabre extends from hilt to the point at which the blade connects to the pommel. This guard is generally turned outwards during sport to protect the sword arm from touches. Hits with the entire blade or point are valid. As in foil, touches that land outside the target area are not scored. However, unlike foil, these off-target touches do not stop the action, and the fencing continues. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of “right of way”.

    Most personal protective equipment for fencing is made of tough cotton or nylon. Kevlar was added to top level uniform pieces (jacket, breeches, underarm protector, lamé, and the bib of the mask) following the death of Vladimir Smirnov at the 1982 World Championships in Rome. However, Kevlar is degraded by both ultraviolet light and chlorine, which can complicate cleaning.

    Other ballistic fabrics, such as Dyneema, have been developed that resist puncture, and which do not degrade the way that Kevlar does. FIE rules state that tournament wear must be made of fabric that resists a force of 800 newtons (180 lbf), and that the mask bib must resist twice that amount.

    The complete fencing kit includes:

    Jacket

    Glove

    Sous-Plastron

    Breeches/Knickers

    Mask

    Chest protector for women

    Traditionally, the fencer’s uniform is white, and an instructor’s uniform is black. This may be due to the occasional pre-electric practice of covering the point of the weapon in dye, soot, or colored chalk in order to make it easier for the referee to determine the placing of the touches. As this is no longer a factor in the electric era, the FIE rules have been relaxed to allow colored uniforms (save black). The guidelines also limit the permitted size and positioning of sponsorship logos.

    Some pistol grips used by foil and épée fencers

    Visconti grip

    Belgian grip

    Russian grip

    Hungarian grip

    A set of electric fencing equipment is required to participate in electric fencing. Electric equipment in fencing varies depending on the weapon with which it is used in accordance. The main component of a set of electric equipment is the body cord. The body cord serves as the connection between a fencer and a reel of wire that is part of a system for electrically detecting that the weapon has touched the opponent. There are two types: one for épée, and one for foil and sabre.

    Épée body cords consist of two sets of three prongs each connected by a wire. One set plugs into the fencer’s weapon, with the other connecting to the reel. Foil and sabre body cords have only two prongs (or a twist-lock bayonet connector) on the weapon side, with the third wire connecting instead to the fencer’s lamé. The need in foil and sabre to distinguish between on and off-target touches requires a wired connection to the valid target area.

    A body cord consists of three wires known as the A, B, and C lines. At the reel connector (and both connectors for Épée cords) The B pin is in the middle, the A pin is 1.5 cm to one side of B, and the C pin is 2 cm to the other side of B. This asymmetrical arrangement ensures that the cord cannot be plugged in the wrong way around.

    In foil, the A line is connected to the lamé and the B line runs up a wire to the tip of the weapon. The B line is normally connected to the C line through the tip. When the tip is depressed, the circuit is broken and one of three things can happen:

    In Épée, the A and B lines run up separate wires to the tip (there is no lamé). When the tip is depressed, it connects the A and B lines, resulting in a valid touch. However, if the tip is touching the opponents weapon (their C line) or the grounded strip, nothing happens when it is depressed, as the current is redirected to the C line. Grounded strips are particularly important in Épée, as without one, a touch to the floor registers as a valid touch (rather than off-target as in Foil).

    In Sabre, similarly to Foil, the A line is connected to the lamé, but both the B and C lines are connected to the body of the weapon. Any contact between the one’s B/C line (doesn’t matter which, as they are always connected) and the opponent’s A line (their lamé) results in a valid touch. There is no need for grounded strips in Sabre, as hitting something other than the opponent’s lame does nothing.

    In a professional fencing competition, a complete set of electric equipment is needed.

    A complete set of foil electric equipment includes:

    fencing sword

    The electric equipment of sabre is very similar to that of foil. In addition, equipment used in sabre includes:

    Épée fencers lack a lamé, conductive bib, and head cord due to their target area. Also, their body cords are constructed differently as described above. However, they possess all of the other components of a foil fencer’s equipment.

    Techniques or movements in fencing can be divided into two categories: offensive and defensive. Some techniques can fall into both categories (e.g. the beat). Certain techniques are used offensively, with the purpose of landing a hit on your opponent while holding the right of way (foil and sabre). Others are used defensively, to protect against a hit or obtain the right of way.[18]

    The attacks and defences may be performed in countless combinations of feet and hand actions. For example, fencer A attacks the arm of fencer B, drawing a high outside parry; fencer B then follows the parry with a high line riposte. Fencer A, expecting that, then makes his own parry by pivoting his blade under fencer B’s weapon (from straight out to more or less straight down), putting fencer B’s tip off target and fencer A now scoring against the low line by angulating the hand upwards.

    Whenever a point is scored, the fencers will go back to their starting mark. The fight will start again after the following commands have been given by the referee (in French in international settings): “En garde” (On guard), “Êtes-vous prêts ?” (Are you ready?), “Allez” (Fence!).

    University students compete internationally at the World University Games. The United States holds two national level university tournaments including the NCAA championship and the USACFC National Championships[19] tournaments in the US and the BUCS fencing championships in the United Kingdom.

    National fencing organisations have set up programmes to encourage more students to fence. Examples include the Regional Youth Circuit program[20] in the US and the Leon Paul Youth Development series in the UK.

    In recent years, attempts have been made to introduce fencing to a wider and younger audience, by using foam and plastic swords, which require much less protective equipment. This makes it much less expensive to provide classes, and thus easier to take fencing to a wider range of schools than traditionally has been the case. There is even a competition series in Scotland – the Plastic-and-Foam Fencing FunLeague[21] – specifically for Primary and early Secondary school-age children using this equipment.

    The UK hosts two national competitions in which schools compete against each other directly: the Public Schools Fencing Championship, a competition only open to Independent Schools,[22] and the Scottish Secondary Schools Championships, open to all secondary schools in Scotland. It contains both teams and individual events and is highly anticipated. Schools organise matches directly against one another and school age pupils can compete individually in the British Youth Championships.

    Many universities in Ontario, Canada have fencing teams that participate in an annual inter-university competition called the OUA Finals.

    Other variants include wheelchair fencing for those with disabilities, chair fencing, one-hit épée (one of the five events which constitute modern pentathlon) and the various types of non-Olympic competitive fencing.[23] Chair fencing is similar to wheelchair fencing, but for the able bodied. The opponents set up opposing chairs and fence while seated; all the usual rules of fencing are applied. An example of the latter is the American Fencing League (distinct from the United States Fencing Association): the format of competitions is different and the right of way rules are interpreted in a different way. In a number of countries, school and university matches deviate slightly from the FIE format. A variant of the sport using toy lightsabers earned national attention when ESPN2 acquired the rights to a selection of matches and included it as part of its “ESPN8: The Ocho” programming block in August 2018.[24]

    One of the most notable films related to fencing is the 2015 Finnish-Estonian-German film The Fencer, directed by Klaus Härö, which is loosely based on the life of Endel Nelis, an accomplished Estonian fencer and coach.[25] The film was nominated for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in the Foreign Language Film Category.[26]


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    The épée (English: /ˈɛpeɪ/ or /ˈeɪpeɪ/, French pronunciation: ​[epe]), sometimes spelled epee in English, is the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. The modern épée derives from the 19th-century épée de combat,[1] a weapon which itself derives from the French small sword.[2]

    As a thrusting weapon, the épée is similar to a foil (contrasted with a sabre, which is designed for slashing). It has a stiffer blade than a foil. It is triangular in cross-section with a V-shaped groove called a fuller. The épée also has a larger bell guard and weighs more. The techniques of their use differ, as there are no rules regarding priority and right of way. Thus, immediate counterattacks are a common feature of épée fencing. In addition, the entire body is a valid target area.

    While modern sport of fencing has three weapons — foil, épée, and sabre, each a separate event — the épée is the only one in which the entire body is the valid target area (the others are restricted to varying areas above the waist). The épée is the heaviest of the three modern fencing weapons. As with all fencing disciplines, fencing matches with the épée require concentration, accuracy, and speed. Since the entire body is a target, a successful épée fencer must be able to anticipate their opponent’s moves and strike their opponent at the correct time.

    In most higher-level competitions, a grounded piste is used to prevent floor hits from registering as touches. In épée fencing, unlike in the other two disciplines, there are no right-of-way rules regarding attacks, other than the aforementioned rule regarding touches with only the point of the weapon. Touches are awarded solely on the basis of which fencer makes a touch first, according to the electronic scoring machines. Also, double-touches are allowed in épée, although the touches must occur within 40 milliseconds (1/25 of a second) of each other.

    A special aspect to the épée discipline is the counterattack, a tactic employed in response to an attack. Some specifications include two varieties, the stop-thrust and the time thrust, which are (respectively) a simple counterattack and a counterattack on the opposition. With the absence of right-of-way, following an attack and landing a counterattack correctly can be a highly efficient way to score a touch, thus the counterattack’s ubiquity in épée fencing.
    fencing sword

    A modern épée, of size 5, for use by adult fencers has a blade that measures 90 cm (35 in) from the guard to the tip. The total weight of the weapon ready for use is less than 770 g (27 oz),[3] with most competition weapons being much lighter, weighing 300–450 g (11–16 oz). Épées for use by children under 13 are shorter and lighter (e.g. size 2), making it easier for them to use.

    The blade of an épée is triangular in section, whereas that of a foil is rectangular, and neither blade has a cutting edge. Wires may run down a groove in épée blades fitted for electric scoring, with a depressible button capping the point. In competitive fencing, the width of any of the three sides of an épée’s blade is limited to 24 mm (0.94 in).[3]

    The guard has numerous forms, but all are essentially a hemispherical shield, the section of which fits in a 10–13.5 cm (3.9–5.3 in) cylinder.[4] This is frequently called a bell guard. As the hand is a valid target in competitive fencing, the guard is much larger and more protective than that of a foil, having a depth of 3–5.5 cm (1.2–2.2 in) and a diameter more likely to be toward the maximum of 13.5 cm (5.3 in).[3]

    As with a foil, the grip of an épée can be exchanged for another if it has a screw-on pommel. Grip options primarily include the French grip and the pistol grip.

    In competitions, a valid touch is scored if a fencer’s weapon touches the opponent with enough force to depress the tip; by rule, this is a minimum of 750 gf (7.4 N). The tip is wired to a connector in the guard, then to an electronic scoring device or “box”. The guard, blade, and handle of the épée are all grounded to the scoring box to prevent hits to the weapon from registering as touches.

    In the groove formed by the V-shaped blade, there are two thin wires leading from the far end of the blade to a connector in the guard. These wires are held in place with a strong glue. The amount of glue is kept to a minimum as in the unlikely (but possible) case that a fencer manages a touch in that glue, the touch would be registered on the electrical equipment, as the glue is not conductive (the blade is grounded). In the event of tip to tip hits, a point should not be awarded. A “body cord” with a three-pronged plug at each end is placed underneath the fencer’s clothing and attached to the connector in the guard, then to a wire leading to the scoring box. The scoring box signals with lights (one for each fencer) and a tone each time the tip is depressed.

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  • The tip of an electric épée, called the “button”, comprises several parts: the mushroom-shaped, movable pointe d’arrêt (‘point of arrest’) at the end; its housing or “barrel” which is threaded onto the blade; a contact spring; and a return spring. The tips are generally held in place by two small grub screws, which thread into the sides of the tip through elongated openings on either side of the barrel. The screws hold the tip within the barrel but are allowed to travel freely in the openings. While this is the most common system, screwless variations do exist. The return spring must allow the tip to support a force of 750 gf (7.4 N) without registering a touch. Finally, an épée tip must allow a shim of 1.5 mm to be inserted between the pointe d’arrêt and the barrel, and when a 0.5 mm shim is inserted and the tip depressed, it should not register a touch.[5] The contact spring is threaded in or out of the tip to adjust for this distance. These specifications are tested at the start of each bout during competitions. During competitions, fencers are required to have a minimum of two weapons and two body wires in case of failure or breakage.

    Bouts with the different fencing weapons have a different tempo; as with foil fencing, the tempo for an épée bout is rather slow with sudden bursts of speed, but these are more common in épée due to counterattacks.

    The French word épée ultimately derives from Latin spatha. The term was introduced into English in the 1880s for the sportive fencing weapon.

    Like the foil (French: fleuret), the épée evolved from light civilian weapons such as the small sword, which, since the late 17th century, had been the most commonly used dueling sword, replacing the rapier.

    The dueling sword developed in the 19th century when, under pressure from the authorities, duels were more frequently fought until “first blood” only, instead of to the death.[citation needed] Under this provision, it became sufficient to inflict a minor nick on the wrist or other exposed area on the opponent in order to win the duel. This resulted in emphasis on light touches to the arm and hand, while downplaying hits to the torso (chest, back, groin). Rapiers with full-cup guards had been made since the mid 17th century, but were not widespread before the 19th century.

    Today, épée fencing somewhat resembles 19th-century dueling. An épée fencer must hit the target with the tip of the weapon. A difference between épée and foil versus sabre is that corps-à-corps (body-to-body) contact between fencers is not necessarily an offense, unless it is done with “brutality or violence”.

    In the pre-electric era, épée fencers used a different kind of point d’arrêt, a three-pronged point with small protruding spikes, which would snag on the opponent’s clothing or mask, helping the referee to see the hits. The spikes caused épée fencing to be a notoriously painful affair, and épée fencers could be easily recognized by the tears in their jacket sleeves. A later evolution of the sport used a point that was dipped in a dye, which showed the location of touches on a white uniform; the dye was soluble in weak acid (e.g., acetic acid) to remove old marks.[6] Today, competition is done with electric weapons, where a circuit is closed when the touch is made. Non-electric weapons are now typically used only for practice, generally fitted with plastic buttons or solid “dummy points”.

    Modern épée fencing underwent a paradigm shift from classical fencing in the 1970s and 1980s. The shift was pioneered by Eric Sollee, fencing coach at MIT, and his student, Johan Harmenberg, who subsequently won the World Fencing Championships and the Olympic gold medal. This new strategic approach is based on the “Sollee conjectures” or the “three conjectures”:[7]

    This new training system (which answered those questions with yes) resulted in Harmenberg closing the fencing distance, using absence of blade with destructive parries to prevent opponents using their own strongest moves, and pushing them into attacking high which was a prerequisite for Harmenberg using his own strongest move. Harmenberg used this approach to win eight individual and team gold medals at Olympics, World Fencing Championships, and Fencing World Cup competitions. As a result, many if not most of the top fencers have used the new paradigm or at least adjusted to fence against those who do.[8][page needed]


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    The sabre (US English: saber, both pronounced /ˈseɪbər/) is one of the three disciplines of modern fencing.[1] The sabre weapon is for thrusting and cutting with both the cutting edge and the back of the blade[2] (unlike other modern fencing weapons, the épée and foil, where the methods of making a hit are scored using only the point of the blade[2]).

    The informal term sabreur refers to a male fencer who follows the discipline; sabreuse is the female equivalent.

    “The blade, which must be of steel, is approximately rectangular in section. The maximum length of the blade is 88 cm. The minimum width of the blade, which must be at the button, is 4 mm; its thickness, also immediately below the button, must be at least 1.2 mm.”[3]

    The cross-sectional profile of the sabre blade is commonly a V-shaped base which transitions to a flat rectangular shaped end with most blade variants, but this is dependent on the how it is manufactured. This allows the blade to be flexible towards the end. According to regulation, manufacturers must acknowledge that the blade must be fixed horizontally at a point 70 cm (27.6 in) from the tip of the blade.[4]

    Standardised adult (size 5) blades are 88 cm (34.6 in) in length (excluding other components). At the end of the blade, the point is folded over itself to form a “button” which, when viewed end on, must have a square or rectangular section of 4–6 mm no larger or smaller. The button must not be any more than 3 mm from the end of the 88 cm blade section.[4]
    fencing sword

    The guard is full in shape, made in one piece and is externally smooth, the curvature of the guard is continuous without any aesthetic perforations or rims. The interior of the guard is fully insulated by either paint or a pad. The guard is designed to provide the hand adequate protection to ensure that injury does not occur which may hinder the performance of the fencer. Guards are dimensionally measured 15 cm by 14 cm in section where the blade is parallel with the axis of the gauge.[5]

    On electrical sabres, a socket for the body wire is found underneath the bell guard. A fastener known as a pommel is attached to the end of the sword to keep the bell guard and handle on, it electrically separates the handle and the guard.

    The conventional handle of the sabre is shaped so that it may be held so that the hand may slide down to gain further extension of the weapon relative to the fencer. Other grips which form various shapes are incompatible and impractical with sabre as they limit the movement of the hand, and are likely to be ergonomically incompatible with the guard.

    The entire weapon is generally 105 cm (41.3 in) long; the maximum weight is 500 g, but most competition swords are closer to 400 g. It is shorter than the foil or épée, and lighter than the épée, hence physically easier to move swiftly and decisively. However the integrity of the sabre blade is not as strong as other weapons as it is more likely to break due to the design.[6]

    Like other weapons used in fencing, the modern sabre uses an electrical connection to register touches. The sabreur wears a lamé, a conductive jacket, to complete the circuit and register a touch to a valid target.

    Sabre was the last weapon in fencing to make the transition over to using electrical equipment. This occurred in 1988, 32 years (1956) after the foil and 52 years (1936) after the épée. In 2004, immediately following the Athens Summer Olympics, the timing for recording a touch was shortened from its previous setting, dramatically altering the sport and method in which a touch is scored.

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  • Unlike the other two weapons, there is very little difference between an electric sabre and a steam or dry (non-electric) one. The blade itself is the same in steam and electric sabres, as there is no need for a blade wire or pressure-sensitive tip in an electric sabre. An electric sabre has a socket, which is generally a 2-prong or bayonet foil socket with the two contacts shorted together. The electric sabre also has insulation on the pommel and on the inside of the guard to prevent an electrical connection between the sabre and the lamé. This is undesirable because it effectively extends the lamé onto the sabre, causing any blade contact to be registered as a valid touch.

    Early electric sabres were equipped with a capteur socket. The capteur was a small mechanical accelerometer that was intended to distinguish between a good cut and a mere touch of the blade against the target. In November 2019 the FIE announced their intention to re-introduce the capteur to sabre using modern accelerometer technology.[7]

    The general target area for the discipline contains the entire torso above the waist, the head, and the arms up to the wrist of which a valid hit may be scored. The legs, hands and feet are excluded from the target area.

    A single circuit for the entire target area used in scoring systems is formed by multiple conductive equipment:

    Because touches can be scored using the edge of the blade, there is no need for a pressure-sensitive head to be present on the end of the blade (thus having the button). When fencing “electric” (as opposed to “steam” or “dry”) a current runs through the sabre blade. When the blade comes into contact with the lamé, the electrical mask, or the manchette, the current flows through the body cord and interacts with the scoring equipment.

    The scoring apparatus or box aids the referee’s final judgement. As for all electrical apparatus used in modern fencing, the referee must take into account the possibility of mechanical failure.[8] Most sabre hits are registered by light signals placed on top of the sabre apparatus (red and green distinguishable for each fencer, with the light indicating the fencer who registered a hit) and accompanied by audible signal(s) [9] consisting of either of a short ring, or of a continuous note limited to two seconds.

    In some circumstances a white signal is indicated when a fencer has hit off-target.

    The lockout period is the minimum amount of time between registered touches respective of the target area.[10] This period is set into the electrical apparatus to aid judgement.

    Recent regulation adjustments to the “functioning times of the scoring apparatuses” following from the 2016 Olympic Games modified the registering times from 120 ms (± 10 ms) to 170 ms (± 10 ms). Scoring apparatuses with the new modification are marked with a 2 × 4 cm magenta identification label bearing in black text “FIE 2016”.[11]

    Changing the lockout timing effectively changed the way with which the sabre was fenced, making it faster with greater emphasis on footwork. Although the essential nature of the game would remain the same, the strategies for attack and defense would need to be rethought.

    The timing change was initially greeted with a degree of controversy, as many fencers were accustomed to having the longer timings. This made the techniques then employed vulnerable to fast stop-cuts (a hit made by the defender that lands whilst the attacker is still beginning an attack, also known as a skyhook) or remises (a second attack made by the original attacker after the first has technically finished). It was commonly regarded that the shorter timings would only encourage poor technique and an “attack only” mentality, negating much of the art of the sport.

    Remises and stop-cuts would not normally score a point as a hit by the attacker would take priority. However the hit made with priority may arrive too late under the shorter timings to register, and so the stop-cuts and remises would indeed score.

    As a result of the narrower timings, the efficacy of attacks into preparation was increased, meaning that it was now more critical that the preparing fencer must already have begun an attack by the time the two fencers were in hitting distance of each other.

    The techniques of how to parry and riposte have been extended. The solid parries, used extensively before the change of timings, would be supplemented by an additional step back by the defender to avoid the attacker remising (continuing to push their blade after their attack has technically done) or else the defence to be performed as a beat-attack, an extending arm that deflects the oncoming attack halfway through the extension before hitting the original attacker’s target area.

    With hindsight, the shorter timings seem to have encouraged a tightening and refinement of the original techniques with smaller, neater moves so that, on the whole, sabre fencing became faster and more precise than it had ever been before.

    When both signals indicate, it rests upon the referee to decide which fencer scores the point.[12] The decision is based on the concept of right of way which gives the point to the fencer who had priority, i.e. the attacking fencer. As with foil, the other right of way weapon, priority is gained in many ways, which can be broken down into active, passive, and defensive categories:

    If neither fencer has ‘right of way’ in a double touch situation (typically, if both initiate the attack simultaneously in so far as the director can determine), the action is called a “simultaneous attack” and no point is awarded unless an attack is initiated first and is not parried or missed.

    Right of way rules were initially established to encourage fencers to use parries and other techniques in order to hit without being hit, as they would logically desire to do if they were using sharp swords. Subsequently, the rules of right of way have been altered simply to keep the strategy and technique of sabre interesting and (relatively) easy to understand.

    The referee may halt the action for reasons such as a safety hazard, fencer injury, or violation of the rules. When the referee says “halt”, no further action may score a point. For cases of rules violations, the referee may choose to either warn the offender or show him or her a penalty card. A warning has no scoring implication. Cards, on the other hand, have further penalties:

    At sabre, it is generally easier to attack than to defend (for example, the timing favours remises) and high-level international sabre fencing is often very fast and very simple, although when required, top sabreurs do display an extended repertoire of tactical devices. In response to the relatively high speed of sabre fencing (sabre is the fastest sport in the world combat wise), the rules for sabre were changed to prohibit the forward cross-over (where the back foot passes the front foot) – it is now a cardable offence. Thus, the flèche attack is no longer permissible, so sabre fencers have instead begun to use a “flunge” (flying lunge). This attack begins like a flèche, but the fencer pushes off from the ground and moves quickly forward, attempting to land a hit before their feet cross over. Similarly, “running attacks” – consisting of a failed flèche followed by continuous remises – have also been eliminated.

    Sabre defense comprises the three primary parries:

    and three secondary parries:

    Another parry, lesser-known, but which works against opponents of the same handedness, is referred to as “the Hungarian”. This parry is most useful when both fencers charge off the line towards each other. To perform the Hungarian, a fencer throws a “prime” parry when the opponent is within striking distance and sweeps upward into a “quinte” position, covering (in the process) nearly all target area, and performs the riposte as with a normal “quinte” parry. The Hungarian technique often works best if a step or angle is taken in the opposite direction of the “prime” parry. This technique will not work with two fencers of opposite handedness.

    It follows from the nature of sabre parries (they block an incoming attack rather than deflecting it as in foil and épée) that they are static and must be taken as late as possible to avoid being duped by a feint attack, committing to a parry in the wrong line and being unable to change parry (which often involves completely altering the orientation of the blade while moving and rotating the wrist and forearm) to defend against the real attack quickly enough.

    Circles, such as Circle 3, 4, and 5, defend against stabs to the body, which an ordinary parry would not block. This is extremely useful, as it is highly versatile, covering much of the target area.

    Each fencing weapon has a different tempo, and the tempo for épée and foil is rather slow with sudden bursts of speed. Sabre is fast throughout the entire touch. However, many coaches[who?] are urging pupils to slow down the pace by taking smaller steps instead of larger ones.[citation needed]


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    This is a glossary of terms used in fencing.



    Note that the vocabulary here is primarily a glossary of modern fencing terms. Over time, the terminology has evolved, and different terminology may be found in Medieval and Renaissance sources.[3] In many cases, English, French, Italian, and even German terminology may be used (often interchangeably) for the same thing.[8] It should also be noted that American and British English differ in several points of fencing terminology, though some effort has been made in this article to indicate both conventions.

    Enfin l’extremite meme de la lame a ete l’objet d’une innovation interessante. M. Ambroise Baudry, estimant que le bouton classique, avec les glissements et les passes, ne realise qu’imparfaitement le coup net et bien arrete de l’epee demouchetee, a imagine et emploie exclusivement dans son enseignement et dans ses assauts l’epee a pointe d’arret.
    fencing sword

    Ce sont, dit-il, des epees pointues, dont l’extremite porte un bouton rive a 4 militetres au-dessous de la pointe. Le fil poisse s’enroule sur ce bouton comme sur les boutons ordinaires et tient mieux, car il y a plus de prise. On peut lui donner l’epaisseur qu’on veut et, par consequent, laisser libre la longueur des points qu’on juge convenable.

    Cette pointe ne presente donc aucun danger, mais elle marque le coupe et arrete le tireur qui est touche.

    A foil is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. It is flexible, rectangular in cross section, and weighs under a pound. As with the épée, points are only scored by contact with the tip, which, in electrically scored tournaments, is capped with a spring-loaded button to signal a touch. A foil fencer’s uniform features the lamé (a vest, electrically wired to record hits). The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.[1][2][3]

    There are two types of foils that are used in modern fencing. Both types are made with the same basic parts: the pommel, grip, guard, and blade. The difference between them is one is electric, and the other is known as “steam” or “dry”.[4] The blades of both varieties are capped with a plastic or rubber piece, with a button at the tip in electric blades, that provides information when the blade tip touches the opponent.[4] (There are also a range of plastic swords made by varying manufacturers for use by juniors.[5]) Lacking the button and associated electrical mechanism, a judge is required to determine the scoring and the victor in a tournament with non-electric foils.[6]

    Non-electric ones are primarily used for practice.[citation needed] The Fédération Internationale d’Escrime and most national organizations require electric scoring apparatus since the 1956 Olympics, although some organizations still fence competitively with non-electric swords.[citation needed]

    Foils have standardized, tapered, rectangular blades in length and cross-section that are made of tempered and annealed low-carbon steel[7]—or maraging steel as required for international competitions.[8] To prevent the blade from breaking or causing harm to an opponent, the blade is made to bend upon impact with its target.[4] The maximum length of the blade must be 90 cm.[9] The length of the assembled weapon at maximum is 110 cm, and the maximum weight must be less than 500g;[9] however, most competition foils are lighter, closer to 350g.[10]

    The blade of a foil has two sections: the forte (strong) which is the one third of the blade near the guard, and the foible (weak) which is the two thirds of the blade near the tip.[9] There is a part of the blade contained within the grip called a tang. It extends past the grip enough to be fastened to the pommel and to hold the rest of the foil together.[9] When an Italian grip is used, see below, a ricasso extends from under the guard, inside of the grip’s quillons, into the tang.
    fencing sword

    The guard is fastened to the blade, plug, and grip. Then the pommel, a type of fastener, is attached to the grip and holds the rest together. The type of pommel used depends on the type of grip.[4] Two grips are used in foil: straight traditional grips with external pommels (Italian, French, Spanish, and orthopedic varieties);[4] and the newer design of pistol grips, which fix the hand in a specific, ergonomic position, and which have pommels that fit into a countersink in the grip.[4]

    Beginning with the 1956 Olympics, scoring in foil has been accomplished by means of registering the touch with an electric circuit. A switch at the tip of the foil registers the touch, and a metallic foil vest, or lamé, verifies that the touch is on valid target.[12]

    The cord of any type of electric fencing weapon goes through the fencing gear, coming out behind the fencer. The cord of a foil has one end connecting to the back of the fencing strip, and the other end attaches to the foil. The two ends are not interchangeable with one another.

    The electric foil contains a socket underneath the guard that connects to the scoring apparatus via the body cord and a wire that runs down a channel cut into the top of the blade. Electric foil sockets are fixed so that the body cord plugs into the weapon at the fencer’s wrist.[4] There are two main sockets in use today: the “bayonette” which has a single prong and twists-locks into the foil, and the two prong, which has different diameters for each prong, held in place by a clip.[4]

    The tip of the electric foil terminates in a button assembly that generally consists of a barrel, plunger, spring, and retaining screws.[13] The circuit is a “normally closed” one, meaning that at rest there is always a complete power circuit; depressing the tip breaks this circuit, and the scoring apparatus illuminates an appropriate light.[citation needed] Color-coding is used: white or yellow indicates hits not on the valid target area, and either red or green indicate hits on the valid target area (red for one fencer, green for the other).[citation needed]

    The modern foil is the training weapon for the small-sword, the common sidearm of 18th century gentleman.
    Rapier and even longsword foils are also known to have been used, but their weight and use were very different.[14][15]

  • how thick is 5mm
  • Although the foil as a blunted weapon for sword practice goes back to the 16th century (for example, in Hamlet, Shakespeare writes “let
    the foils be brought”[16]), the use as a weapon for sport is more recent. The foil was used in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century in order to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point (“blossom”, French fleuret).[3][17][18] In addition to practicing, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. German students took up that practice in academic fencing and developed the Pariser (“Parisian”) thrusting small sword for the Stoßmensur (“thrusting mensur”).[18]

    The target area for modern foil is said to come from a time when fencing was practiced with limited safety equipment. Another factor in the target area is that foil rules are derived from a period when dueling to the death was the norm. Hence, the favored target area is the torso, where the vital organs are.[18]

    In 1896, foil (and saber) were included as events in the first Olympic Games in Athens.[19]

    Women’s foil was first competed at the Olympics in 1924 in Paris,[19]
    and was the only Olympic fencing event in which women competed until women’s epeé was introduced at the 1996 Olympics.[20] Nowadays, women’s fencing is just as popular as men’s, and consists of all weapons (foil, épée, and sabre).

    Ratings/Rankings are generally run by national fencing federations and use varying scales based on that particular federations system. These ratings are used as the basis for initial seeding into the pool rounds of tournaments and vary country to country.

    Age groups are necessary to separate skill and body maturity levels in order to create a level playing field. The current age groups for foil (and also épée and sabre) are Y10 (age 10 and under), Y12 (age 12 and under), Y14 (age 14 and under), cadet (age 16 and under), junior (age 19 and under), and senior (anything over 19). While an older competitor cannot compete in a younger category, the contrary is allowed and encouraged, in order to expedite learning.

    The veteran age group consists of 40 and over, 60 and over, and 70 and over sub-groups.

    The rules for the sport of fencing are regulated by national sporting associations—in the United States, the United States Fencing Association (USFA)[21] and internationally by the International Fencing Federation, or Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE).[22]

    The detailed rules for foil are listed in the USFA Rulebook.[23]

    Rules for the sport of fencing date back to the 19th century.[24][25] The current international rules for foil were adopted by the FIE Committee for Foil on 12 June 1914. They are based on previous sets of rules adopted by national associations. The rules governing the use of electrical judging apparatus were adopted in 1957 and have been amended several times.[26]

    The foil is used as a thrusting (or point) weapon only. Contact with the side of the blade (a slap or slash) does not result in a score. The tip of the foil must be depressed for at least 15 (± .5) milliseconds while in contact with the opponent’s lamé (wire-mesh jacket which covers valid target area) to score a touch. The foil lamé only covers the torso while in saber it covers the whole upper body. The tip must be able to support a minimum force of 4.90 newtons (500 grams-force) without the circuit breaking. This is tested with a 500g (± 3g) weight.[23]

    In foil the valid target area includes the torso (including the lower part of the bib of the mask) and the groin. The head (except the lower part of the bib of the mask), arms, and legs are considered off target. Touches made off-target do not count for points, but do stop play.[27] Touches to the guard are the only touches that do not stop play.[citation needed] The target area has been changed multiple times, with the latest change consisting of adding the bottom half of the bib to the target zone.[citation needed]

    Foil competition and scoring is governed by the rules of priority, also known as right of way.[28] Originally meant to indicate which competitor would have scored the touch (or lethally injured the other), it is now a main contributor to the appeal of the sport of fencing. In essence, it decides who receives the point (there can only be one competitor that receives a point per engagement) when both competitors hit.

    The basic rules (the full list is extensive) are whoever attacks first wins. This basic rule is far extended by saying that if the defender parries (meets the attacker’s blade midair), they now have priority, and thus generally wins the point (touché).


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    The épée (English: /ˈɛpeɪ/ or /ˈeɪpeɪ/, French pronunciation: ​[epe]), sometimes spelled epee in English, is the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. The modern épée derives from the 19th-century épée de combat,[1] a weapon which itself derives from the French small sword.[2]

    As a thrusting weapon, the épée is similar to a foil (contrasted with a sabre, which is designed for slashing). It has a stiffer blade than a foil. It is triangular in cross-section with a V-shaped groove called a fuller. The épée also has a larger bell guard and weighs more. The techniques of their use differ, as there are no rules regarding priority and right of way. Thus, immediate counterattacks are a common feature of épée fencing. In addition, the entire body is a valid target area.

    While modern sport of fencing has three weapons — foil, épée, and sabre, each a separate event — the épée is the only one in which the entire body is the valid target area (the others are restricted to varying areas above the waist). The épée is the heaviest of the three modern fencing weapons. As with all fencing disciplines, fencing matches with the épée require concentration, accuracy, and speed. Since the entire body is a target, a successful épée fencer must be able to anticipate their opponent’s moves and strike their opponent at the correct time.

    In most higher-level competitions, a grounded piste is used to prevent floor hits from registering as touches. In épée fencing, unlike in the other two disciplines, there are no right-of-way rules regarding attacks, other than the aforementioned rule regarding touches with only the point of the weapon. Touches are awarded solely on the basis of which fencer makes a touch first, according to the electronic scoring machines. Also, double-touches are allowed in épée, although the touches must occur within 40 milliseconds (1/25 of a second) of each other.

    A special aspect to the épée discipline is the counterattack, a tactic employed in response to an attack. Some specifications include two varieties, the stop-thrust and the time thrust, which are (respectively) a simple counterattack and a counterattack on the opposition. With the absence of right-of-way, following an attack and landing a counterattack correctly can be a highly efficient way to score a touch, thus the counterattack’s ubiquity in épée fencing.
    fencing sword

    A modern épée, of size 5, for use by adult fencers has a blade that measures 90 cm (35 in) from the guard to the tip. The total weight of the weapon ready for use is less than 770 g (27 oz),[3] with most competition weapons being much lighter, weighing 300–450 g (11–16 oz). Épées for use by children under 13 are shorter and lighter (e.g. size 2), making it easier for them to use.

    The blade of an épée is triangular in section, whereas that of a foil is rectangular, and neither blade has a cutting edge. Wires may run down a groove in épée blades fitted for electric scoring, with a depressible button capping the point. In competitive fencing, the width of any of the three sides of an épée’s blade is limited to 24 mm (0.94 in).[3]

    The guard has numerous forms, but all are essentially a hemispherical shield, the section of which fits in a 10–13.5 cm (3.9–5.3 in) cylinder.[4] This is frequently called a bell guard. As the hand is a valid target in competitive fencing, the guard is much larger and more protective than that of a foil, having a depth of 3–5.5 cm (1.2–2.2 in) and a diameter more likely to be toward the maximum of 13.5 cm (5.3 in).[3]

    As with a foil, the grip of an épée can be exchanged for another if it has a screw-on pommel. Grip options primarily include the French grip and the pistol grip.

    In competitions, a valid touch is scored if a fencer’s weapon touches the opponent with enough force to depress the tip; by rule, this is a minimum of 750 gf (7.4 N). The tip is wired to a connector in the guard, then to an electronic scoring device or “box”. The guard, blade, and handle of the épée are all grounded to the scoring box to prevent hits to the weapon from registering as touches.

    In the groove formed by the V-shaped blade, there are two thin wires leading from the far end of the blade to a connector in the guard. These wires are held in place with a strong glue. The amount of glue is kept to a minimum as in the unlikely (but possible) case that a fencer manages a touch in that glue, the touch would be registered on the electrical equipment, as the glue is not conductive (the blade is grounded). In the event of tip to tip hits, a point should not be awarded. A “body cord” with a three-pronged plug at each end is placed underneath the fencer’s clothing and attached to the connector in the guard, then to a wire leading to the scoring box. The scoring box signals with lights (one for each fencer) and a tone each time the tip is depressed.

  • which should come next at the end of this row
  • The tip of an electric épée, called the “button”, comprises several parts: the mushroom-shaped, movable pointe d’arrêt (‘point of arrest’) at the end; its housing or “barrel” which is threaded onto the blade; a contact spring; and a return spring. The tips are generally held in place by two small grub screws, which thread into the sides of the tip through elongated openings on either side of the barrel. The screws hold the tip within the barrel but are allowed to travel freely in the openings. While this is the most common system, screwless variations do exist. The return spring must allow the tip to support a force of 750 gf (7.4 N) without registering a touch. Finally, an épée tip must allow a shim of 1.5 mm to be inserted between the pointe d’arrêt and the barrel, and when a 0.5 mm shim is inserted and the tip depressed, it should not register a touch.[5] The contact spring is threaded in or out of the tip to adjust for this distance. These specifications are tested at the start of each bout during competitions. During competitions, fencers are required to have a minimum of two weapons and two body wires in case of failure or breakage.

    Bouts with the different fencing weapons have a different tempo; as with foil fencing, the tempo for an épée bout is rather slow with sudden bursts of speed, but these are more common in épée due to counterattacks.

    The French word épée ultimately derives from Latin spatha. The term was introduced into English in the 1880s for the sportive fencing weapon.

    Like the foil (French: fleuret), the épée evolved from light civilian weapons such as the small sword, which, since the late 17th century, had been the most commonly used dueling sword, replacing the rapier.

    The dueling sword developed in the 19th century when, under pressure from the authorities, duels were more frequently fought until “first blood” only, instead of to the death.[citation needed] Under this provision, it became sufficient to inflict a minor nick on the wrist or other exposed area on the opponent in order to win the duel. This resulted in emphasis on light touches to the arm and hand, while downplaying hits to the torso (chest, back, groin). Rapiers with full-cup guards had been made since the mid 17th century, but were not widespread before the 19th century.

    Today, épée fencing somewhat resembles 19th-century dueling. An épée fencer must hit the target with the tip of the weapon. A difference between épée and foil versus sabre is that corps-à-corps (body-to-body) contact between fencers is not necessarily an offense, unless it is done with “brutality or violence”.

    In the pre-electric era, épée fencers used a different kind of point d’arrêt, a three-pronged point with small protruding spikes, which would snag on the opponent’s clothing or mask, helping the referee to see the hits. The spikes caused épée fencing to be a notoriously painful affair, and épée fencers could be easily recognized by the tears in their jacket sleeves. A later evolution of the sport used a point that was dipped in a dye, which showed the location of touches on a white uniform; the dye was soluble in weak acid (e.g., acetic acid) to remove old marks.[6] Today, competition is done with electric weapons, where a circuit is closed when the touch is made. Non-electric weapons are now typically used only for practice, generally fitted with plastic buttons or solid “dummy points”.

    Modern épée fencing underwent a paradigm shift from classical fencing in the 1970s and 1980s. The shift was pioneered by Eric Sollee, fencing coach at MIT, and his student, Johan Harmenberg, who subsequently won the World Fencing Championships and the Olympic gold medal. This new strategic approach is based on the “Sollee conjectures” or the “three conjectures”:[7]

    This new training system (which answered those questions with yes) resulted in Harmenberg closing the fencing distance, using absence of blade with destructive parries to prevent opponents using their own strongest moves, and pushing them into attacking high which was a prerequisite for Harmenberg using his own strongest move. Harmenberg used this approach to win eight individual and team gold medals at Olympics, World Fencing Championships, and Fencing World Cup competitions. As a result, many if not most of the top fencers have used the new paradigm or at least adjusted to fence against those who do.[8][page needed]


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    A foil is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. It is flexible, rectangular in cross section, and weighs under a pound. As with the épée, points are only scored by contact with the tip, which, in electrically scored tournaments, is capped with a spring-loaded button to signal a touch. A foil fencer’s uniform features the lamé (a vest, electrically wired to record hits). The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.[1][2][3]

    There are two types of foils that are used in modern fencing. Both types are made with the same basic parts: the pommel, grip, guard, and blade. The difference between them is one is electric, and the other is known as “steam” or “dry”.[4] The blades of both varieties are capped with a plastic or rubber piece, with a button at the tip in electric blades, that provides information when the blade tip touches the opponent.[4] (There are also a range of plastic swords made by varying manufacturers for use by juniors.[5]) Lacking the button and associated electrical mechanism, a judge is required to determine the scoring and the victor in a tournament with non-electric foils.[6]

    Non-electric ones are primarily used for practice.[citation needed] The Fédération Internationale d’Escrime and most national organizations require electric scoring apparatus since the 1956 Olympics, although some organizations still fence competitively with non-electric swords.[citation needed]

    Foils have standardized, tapered, rectangular blades in length and cross-section that are made of tempered and annealed low-carbon steel[7]—or maraging steel as required for international competitions.[8] To prevent the blade from breaking or causing harm to an opponent, the blade is made to bend upon impact with its target.[4] The maximum length of the blade must be 90 cm.[9] The length of the assembled weapon at maximum is 110 cm, and the maximum weight must be less than 500g;[9] however, most competition foils are lighter, closer to 350g.[10]

    The blade of a foil has two sections: the forte (strong) which is the one third of the blade near the guard, and the foible (weak) which is the two thirds of the blade near the tip.[9] There is a part of the blade contained within the grip called a tang. It extends past the grip enough to be fastened to the pommel and to hold the rest of the foil together.[9] When an Italian grip is used, see below, a ricasso extends from under the guard, inside of the grip’s quillons, into the tang.
    fencing sword

    The guard is fastened to the blade, plug, and grip. Then the pommel, a type of fastener, is attached to the grip and holds the rest together. The type of pommel used depends on the type of grip.[4] Two grips are used in foil: straight traditional grips with external pommels (Italian, French, Spanish, and orthopedic varieties);[4] and the newer design of pistol grips, which fix the hand in a specific, ergonomic position, and which have pommels that fit into a countersink in the grip.[4]

    Beginning with the 1956 Olympics, scoring in foil has been accomplished by means of registering the touch with an electric circuit. A switch at the tip of the foil registers the touch, and a metallic foil vest, or lamé, verifies that the touch is on valid target.[12]

    The cord of any type of electric fencing weapon goes through the fencing gear, coming out behind the fencer. The cord of a foil has one end connecting to the back of the fencing strip, and the other end attaches to the foil. The two ends are not interchangeable with one another.

    The electric foil contains a socket underneath the guard that connects to the scoring apparatus via the body cord and a wire that runs down a channel cut into the top of the blade. Electric foil sockets are fixed so that the body cord plugs into the weapon at the fencer’s wrist.[4] There are two main sockets in use today: the “bayonette” which has a single prong and twists-locks into the foil, and the two prong, which has different diameters for each prong, held in place by a clip.[4]

    The tip of the electric foil terminates in a button assembly that generally consists of a barrel, plunger, spring, and retaining screws.[13] The circuit is a “normally closed” one, meaning that at rest there is always a complete power circuit; depressing the tip breaks this circuit, and the scoring apparatus illuminates an appropriate light.[citation needed] Color-coding is used: white or yellow indicates hits not on the valid target area, and either red or green indicate hits on the valid target area (red for one fencer, green for the other).[citation needed]

    The modern foil is the training weapon for the small-sword, the common sidearm of 18th century gentleman.
    Rapier and even longsword foils are also known to have been used, but their weight and use were very different.[14][15]

  • how fast does a swan run
  • Although the foil as a blunted weapon for sword practice goes back to the 16th century (for example, in Hamlet, Shakespeare writes “let
    the foils be brought”[16]), the use as a weapon for sport is more recent. The foil was used in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century in order to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point (“blossom”, French fleuret).[3][17][18] In addition to practicing, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. German students took up that practice in academic fencing and developed the Pariser (“Parisian”) thrusting small sword for the Stoßmensur (“thrusting mensur”).[18]

    The target area for modern foil is said to come from a time when fencing was practiced with limited safety equipment. Another factor in the target area is that foil rules are derived from a period when dueling to the death was the norm. Hence, the favored target area is the torso, where the vital organs are.[18]

    In 1896, foil (and saber) were included as events in the first Olympic Games in Athens.[19]

    Women’s foil was first competed at the Olympics in 1924 in Paris,[19]
    and was the only Olympic fencing event in which women competed until women’s epeé was introduced at the 1996 Olympics.[20] Nowadays, women’s fencing is just as popular as men’s, and consists of all weapons (foil, épée, and sabre).

    Ratings/Rankings are generally run by national fencing federations and use varying scales based on that particular federations system. These ratings are used as the basis for initial seeding into the pool rounds of tournaments and vary country to country.

    Age groups are necessary to separate skill and body maturity levels in order to create a level playing field. The current age groups for foil (and also épée and sabre) are Y10 (age 10 and under), Y12 (age 12 and under), Y14 (age 14 and under), cadet (age 16 and under), junior (age 19 and under), and senior (anything over 19). While an older competitor cannot compete in a younger category, the contrary is allowed and encouraged, in order to expedite learning.

    The veteran age group consists of 40 and over, 60 and over, and 70 and over sub-groups.

    The rules for the sport of fencing are regulated by national sporting associations—in the United States, the United States Fencing Association (USFA)[21] and internationally by the International Fencing Federation, or Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE).[22]

    The detailed rules for foil are listed in the USFA Rulebook.[23]

    Rules for the sport of fencing date back to the 19th century.[24][25] The current international rules for foil were adopted by the FIE Committee for Foil on 12 June 1914. They are based on previous sets of rules adopted by national associations. The rules governing the use of electrical judging apparatus were adopted in 1957 and have been amended several times.[26]

    The foil is used as a thrusting (or point) weapon only. Contact with the side of the blade (a slap or slash) does not result in a score. The tip of the foil must be depressed for at least 15 (± .5) milliseconds while in contact with the opponent’s lamé (wire-mesh jacket which covers valid target area) to score a touch. The foil lamé only covers the torso while in saber it covers the whole upper body. The tip must be able to support a minimum force of 4.90 newtons (500 grams-force) without the circuit breaking. This is tested with a 500g (± 3g) weight.[23]

    In foil the valid target area includes the torso (including the lower part of the bib of the mask) and the groin. The head (except the lower part of the bib of the mask), arms, and legs are considered off target. Touches made off-target do not count for points, but do stop play.[27] Touches to the guard are the only touches that do not stop play.[citation needed] The target area has been changed multiple times, with the latest change consisting of adding the bottom half of the bib to the target zone.[citation needed]

    Foil competition and scoring is governed by the rules of priority, also known as right of way.[28] Originally meant to indicate which competitor would have scored the touch (or lethally injured the other), it is now a main contributor to the appeal of the sport of fencing. In essence, it decides who receives the point (there can only be one competitor that receives a point per engagement) when both competitors hit.

    The basic rules (the full list is extensive) are whoever attacks first wins. This basic rule is far extended by saying that if the defender parries (meets the attacker’s blade midair), they now have priority, and thus generally wins the point (touché).


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    The sabre (US English: saber, both pronounced /ˈseɪbər/) is one of the three disciplines of modern fencing.[1] The sabre weapon is for thrusting and cutting with both the cutting edge and the back of the blade[2] (unlike other modern fencing weapons, the épée and foil, where the methods of making a hit are scored using only the point of the blade[2]).

    The informal term sabreur refers to a male fencer who follows the discipline; sabreuse is the female equivalent.

    “The blade, which must be of steel, is approximately rectangular in section. The maximum length of the blade is 88 cm. The minimum width of the blade, which must be at the button, is 4 mm; its thickness, also immediately below the button, must be at least 1.2 mm.”[3]

    The cross-sectional profile of the sabre blade is commonly a V-shaped base which transitions to a flat rectangular shaped end with most blade variants, but this is dependent on the how it is manufactured. This allows the blade to be flexible towards the end. According to regulation, manufacturers must acknowledge that the blade must be fixed horizontally at a point 70 cm (27.6 in) from the tip of the blade.[4]

    Standardised adult (size 5) blades are 88 cm (34.6 in) in length (excluding other components). At the end of the blade, the point is folded over itself to form a “button” which, when viewed end on, must have a square or rectangular section of 4–6 mm no larger or smaller. The button must not be any more than 3 mm from the end of the 88 cm blade section.[4]
    fencing sword

    The guard is full in shape, made in one piece and is externally smooth, the curvature of the guard is continuous without any aesthetic perforations or rims. The interior of the guard is fully insulated by either paint or a pad. The guard is designed to provide the hand adequate protection to ensure that injury does not occur which may hinder the performance of the fencer. Guards are dimensionally measured 15 cm by 14 cm in section where the blade is parallel with the axis of the gauge.[5]

    On electrical sabres, a socket for the body wire is found underneath the bell guard. A fastener known as a pommel is attached to the end of the sword to keep the bell guard and handle on, it electrically separates the handle and the guard.

    The conventional handle of the sabre is shaped so that it may be held so that the hand may slide down to gain further extension of the weapon relative to the fencer. Other grips which form various shapes are incompatible and impractical with sabre as they limit the movement of the hand, and are likely to be ergonomically incompatible with the guard.

    The entire weapon is generally 105 cm (41.3 in) long; the maximum weight is 500 g, but most competition swords are closer to 400 g. It is shorter than the foil or épée, and lighter than the épée, hence physically easier to move swiftly and decisively. However the integrity of the sabre blade is not as strong as other weapons as it is more likely to break due to the design.[6]

    Like other weapons used in fencing, the modern sabre uses an electrical connection to register touches. The sabreur wears a lamé, a conductive jacket, to complete the circuit and register a touch to a valid target.

    Sabre was the last weapon in fencing to make the transition over to using electrical equipment. This occurred in 1988, 32 years (1956) after the foil and 52 years (1936) after the épée. In 2004, immediately following the Athens Summer Olympics, the timing for recording a touch was shortened from its previous setting, dramatically altering the sport and method in which a touch is scored.

  • how many hamburger buns in a package
  • Unlike the other two weapons, there is very little difference between an electric sabre and a steam or dry (non-electric) one. The blade itself is the same in steam and electric sabres, as there is no need for a blade wire or pressure-sensitive tip in an electric sabre. An electric sabre has a socket, which is generally a 2-prong or bayonet foil socket with the two contacts shorted together. The electric sabre also has insulation on the pommel and on the inside of the guard to prevent an electrical connection between the sabre and the lamé. This is undesirable because it effectively extends the lamé onto the sabre, causing any blade contact to be registered as a valid touch.

    Early electric sabres were equipped with a capteur socket. The capteur was a small mechanical accelerometer that was intended to distinguish between a good cut and a mere touch of the blade against the target. In November 2019 the FIE announced their intention to re-introduce the capteur to sabre using modern accelerometer technology.[7]

    The general target area for the discipline contains the entire torso above the waist, the head, and the arms up to the wrist of which a valid hit may be scored. The legs, hands and feet are excluded from the target area.

    A single circuit for the entire target area used in scoring systems is formed by multiple conductive equipment:

    Because touches can be scored using the edge of the blade, there is no need for a pressure-sensitive head to be present on the end of the blade (thus having the button). When fencing “electric” (as opposed to “steam” or “dry”) a current runs through the sabre blade. When the blade comes into contact with the lamé, the electrical mask, or the manchette, the current flows through the body cord and interacts with the scoring equipment.

    The scoring apparatus or box aids the referee’s final judgement. As for all electrical apparatus used in modern fencing, the referee must take into account the possibility of mechanical failure.[8] Most sabre hits are registered by light signals placed on top of the sabre apparatus (red and green distinguishable for each fencer, with the light indicating the fencer who registered a hit) and accompanied by audible signal(s) [9] consisting of either of a short ring, or of a continuous note limited to two seconds.

    In some circumstances a white signal is indicated when a fencer has hit off-target.

    The lockout period is the minimum amount of time between registered touches respective of the target area.[10] This period is set into the electrical apparatus to aid judgement.

    Recent regulation adjustments to the “functioning times of the scoring apparatuses” following from the 2016 Olympic Games modified the registering times from 120 ms (± 10 ms) to 170 ms (± 10 ms). Scoring apparatuses with the new modification are marked with a 2 × 4 cm magenta identification label bearing in black text “FIE 2016”.[11]

    Changing the lockout timing effectively changed the way with which the sabre was fenced, making it faster with greater emphasis on footwork. Although the essential nature of the game would remain the same, the strategies for attack and defense would need to be rethought.

    The timing change was initially greeted with a degree of controversy, as many fencers were accustomed to having the longer timings. This made the techniques then employed vulnerable to fast stop-cuts (a hit made by the defender that lands whilst the attacker is still beginning an attack, also known as a skyhook) or remises (a second attack made by the original attacker after the first has technically finished). It was commonly regarded that the shorter timings would only encourage poor technique and an “attack only” mentality, negating much of the art of the sport.

    Remises and stop-cuts would not normally score a point as a hit by the attacker would take priority. However the hit made with priority may arrive too late under the shorter timings to register, and so the stop-cuts and remises would indeed score.

    As a result of the narrower timings, the efficacy of attacks into preparation was increased, meaning that it was now more critical that the preparing fencer must already have begun an attack by the time the two fencers were in hitting distance of each other.

    The techniques of how to parry and riposte have been extended. The solid parries, used extensively before the change of timings, would be supplemented by an additional step back by the defender to avoid the attacker remising (continuing to push their blade after their attack has technically done) or else the defence to be performed as a beat-attack, an extending arm that deflects the oncoming attack halfway through the extension before hitting the original attacker’s target area.

    With hindsight, the shorter timings seem to have encouraged a tightening and refinement of the original techniques with smaller, neater moves so that, on the whole, sabre fencing became faster and more precise than it had ever been before.

    When both signals indicate, it rests upon the referee to decide which fencer scores the point.[12] The decision is based on the concept of right of way which gives the point to the fencer who had priority, i.e. the attacking fencer. As with foil, the other right of way weapon, priority is gained in many ways, which can be broken down into active, passive, and defensive categories:

    If neither fencer has ‘right of way’ in a double touch situation (typically, if both initiate the attack simultaneously in so far as the director can determine), the action is called a “simultaneous attack” and no point is awarded unless an attack is initiated first and is not parried or missed.

    Right of way rules were initially established to encourage fencers to use parries and other techniques in order to hit without being hit, as they would logically desire to do if they were using sharp swords. Subsequently, the rules of right of way have been altered simply to keep the strategy and technique of sabre interesting and (relatively) easy to understand.

    The referee may halt the action for reasons such as a safety hazard, fencer injury, or violation of the rules. When the referee says “halt”, no further action may score a point. For cases of rules violations, the referee may choose to either warn the offender or show him or her a penalty card. A warning has no scoring implication. Cards, on the other hand, have further penalties:

    At sabre, it is generally easier to attack than to defend (for example, the timing favours remises) and high-level international sabre fencing is often very fast and very simple, although when required, top sabreurs do display an extended repertoire of tactical devices. In response to the relatively high speed of sabre fencing (sabre is the fastest sport in the world combat wise), the rules for sabre were changed to prohibit the forward cross-over (where the back foot passes the front foot) – it is now a cardable offence. Thus, the flèche attack is no longer permissible, so sabre fencers have instead begun to use a “flunge” (flying lunge). This attack begins like a flèche, but the fencer pushes off from the ground and moves quickly forward, attempting to land a hit before their feet cross over. Similarly, “running attacks” – consisting of a failed flèche followed by continuous remises – have also been eliminated.

    Sabre defense comprises the three primary parries:

    and three secondary parries:

    Another parry, lesser-known, but which works against opponents of the same handedness, is referred to as “the Hungarian”. This parry is most useful when both fencers charge off the line towards each other. To perform the Hungarian, a fencer throws a “prime” parry when the opponent is within striking distance and sweeps upward into a “quinte” position, covering (in the process) nearly all target area, and performs the riposte as with a normal “quinte” parry. The Hungarian technique often works best if a step or angle is taken in the opposite direction of the “prime” parry. This technique will not work with two fencers of opposite handedness.

    It follows from the nature of sabre parries (they block an incoming attack rather than deflecting it as in foil and épée) that they are static and must be taken as late as possible to avoid being duped by a feint attack, committing to a parry in the wrong line and being unable to change parry (which often involves completely altering the orientation of the blade while moving and rotating the wrist and forearm) to defend against the real attack quickly enough.

    Circles, such as Circle 3, 4, and 5, defend against stabs to the body, which an ordinary parry would not block. This is extremely useful, as it is highly versatile, covering much of the target area.

    Each fencing weapon has a different tempo, and the tempo for épée and foil is rather slow with sudden bursts of speed. Sabre is fast throughout the entire touch. However, many coaches[who?] are urging pupils to slow down the pace by taking smaller steps instead of larger ones.[citation needed]


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    In fencing, a body cord serves as the connection between a fencer and a reel of wire that is part of a system for electrically detecting that the weapon has touched the opponent. There are two types: one for epee, and one for foil and sabre.[1]

    Épée body cords consist of two sets of three prongs each connected by a wire. One set plugs into the fencer’s weapon, with the other connecting to the reel. Foil and saber body cords have only two irregularly sized prongs (or a twist-lock bayonet connector) on the weapon side, with the third wire connecting instead to the fencer’s lamé. The need in foil and saber to distinguish between on and off-target touches requires a wired connection to the valid target area.

    The three wires of the body cord are known as the A, B, and C lines. At the reel connector (and both connectors for Épée cords) The B pin is in the middle, the A pin is 1.5 cm to one side of B, and the C pin is 2 cm to the other side of B.[2] This asymmetrical arrangement ensures that the cord cannot be plugged in the wrong way around.

    The A line is the “lamé” line, the B line is the “weapon” line, and the C line is the ground. Although it works somewhat differently for each weapon, a valid touch always involves the connection of the A and B lines. In all three weapons, the C line is connected to the body of the weapon, and sometimes (normally in high-level competition) to the fencing strip as well, which must be made of metal in this case.

    In foil, the A line is connected to the lamé and the B line runs up a wire to the tip of the weapon. The B line is normally connected to the C line through the tip. When the tip is depressed, the circuit is broken and one of three things can happen:
    fencing sword

    In Épée, the A and B lines run up separate wires to the tip (there is no lamé). When the tip is depressed, it connects the A and B lines, resulting in a valid touch. However, if the tip is touching the opponents weapon (their C line) or the grounded strip, nothing happens when it is depressed, as the current is redirected to the C line. Grounded strips are particularly important in Épée, as without one, a touch to the floor registers as a valid touch (rather than off-target as in Foil).

    In Sabre, similarly to Foil, the A line is connected to the lamé, but both the B and C lines are connected to the body of the weapon. Any contact between the B/C line (doesn’t matter which, as they are always connected) and the opponent’s A line (their lamé) results in a valid touch. There is no need for grounded strips in Sabre, as hitting something other than the opponent’s lame does nothing.

    Typically, a fencer wears a body cord under their jacket. The wire is threaded through the sleeve of the weapon arm as it is being donned. Most gloves feature a small hole designed for body cord use. In officially sanctioned tournaments, the plug that fits into the weapon must be secured with an additional device, usually a small clip.

    The other end of the wire is connected to the reel, as well as a D-ring on the fencer’s jacket to prevent it from disconnecting during a bout. In addition, foilists and saberists must connect their alligator clips to their lamés. Fencers are forced by regulation to attach the lamé clip to their weapon arm side to prevent accidental or intentional removal.

    Regulation also stipulates that any fencer who brings a defective body cord to the strip be penalized with a yellow card. However, should one’s body cord fail in the middle of a bout, no penalty is awarded. In both cases, the fencer is not allowed to disrobe to change cords. This leads to the common practice of replacing the body cord by tying the new cord around the defective cord and pulling it through the sleeve.

    Body cords must be kept in good working order lest their condition deteriorate. Common causes of broken body cords include breaks and damage to the prongs. Many body cords are made with clear plastic insulation so that any corrosion of the copper wire can be seen more easily.

    In fencing, a lamé is an electrically conductive jacket worn by foil and sabre fencers in order to define the scoring area (which is different for each weapon). Foil lamés, although traditionally a metallic grey, are becoming more and more popular in an array of colors. In foil, the lamé extends on the torso from the shoulders to the groin area, including the back. In sabre, the lamé covers both arms, the torso from the shoulders to the waist, and the back. Lamés used in higher-level competitions usually have the last name and country of their owner printed in blue across the back. In addition, sabre fencers wear masks that allow them to register head touches, and manchettes, which are conductive glove covers, on their weapon hand. Lamés are wired by use of a body cord to a scoring machine, which allows the other person’s weapon to register touches when their tips (or blades, in sabre) contact the lamé. Lamés are most commonly made of a polyester jacket, overlain with a thin, interwoven metal, usually steel or copper, which gives them a metallic grayish look.

    This fencing-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

    In fencing, the grip is the part of the weapon which is gripped by the fencer’s hand.

    There are two types of grips commonly used today in competitive foil and épée: French, which is a straight grip with a pommel at the end of it, and the orthopedic or pistol grip. Virtually all high level foil fencers use a pistol grip; in épée, both types are used. Both kinds of grip optimize hitting with the point of the sword (a ‘thrust’), which is the only way to score a touch with a foil or épée.

    There are a number of grips which are no longer common or are currently illegal in competitive fencing. The Italian grip is legal but is not used commonly. A number of grips which combine a French grip pommel with pistol grip style prongs are illegal for competition. The rationale for these grips being illegal is that they would allow both the extended reach of the French and the added strength of the pistol grip.

    Sabre, which is the only fencing weapon that allows “cutting” with the edge of the blade, has only one kind of grip, because of the way the blade is handled. Sabre grips are generally made of plastic, rubber over metal or plastic, wood, or leather wrapped over wood.

    The French grip is straight or slightly contoured to the curve of the hand. It reached its modern form in the late nineteenth century. The French grip allows the fencer to “post”, holding the grip towards the pommel, instead of holding the weapon near the bell guard. This gives the fencer a longer reach while reducing the power of beats and parries, and allows for an expanded repertoire of counterattacks and remises of attacks.
    fencing sword

    A French grip may be bent or canted somewhat where the blade meets the grip, and it may be bent somewhat along its length. The grip may not be bent or canted so far as to take the pommel outside the cylinder formed by the bell guard.[1]

    A substantial number of épéeists at all levels use French grips while posting to allow for longer reach. Posting is not a technique seen in competitive foil, as it decreases one’s ability to parry successfully, and thus increases an opponent’s chance of a successful hit or remise. As a result, the use of the French grip in competitive foil is extremely rare.

    A pistol grip is any grip with a special shape or protrusion intended to aid in holding the weapon. To be legal a pistol grip must fix the hand in one position, and the fencer’s thumb must fall within 2 cm of the bell guard when the weapon is gripped.[1]

    In competitive fencing pistol grips are nearly universally preferred in foil, and are used by a large percentage of épée fencers because they allow stronger blade movements.

    While individual manufacturers have variations in shape, pistol grips can be classed into a few broad types:

    Visconti grip

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  • Negrini Visconti grip

    Belgian grip

    Russian grip

    Schermasport grip (a loose variant of a Belgian)

    Hungarian grip

    A number of grip variations are either no longer used or are no longer legal to use in competitive fencing.

    The Italian grip is legal but is not commonly used in modern fencing. It can be viewed as a transitional step on the path to the pistol grip.

    The names of illegal grips are applied inconsistently and have some overlap with uncommon but legal grips. Rules organizations usually do not list names of grips as legal or not, but rather list general characteristics. In general, aside from the Italian grip, if a grip has both prongs to assist the fencer’s grip and also a French grip pommel it is not legal to use for competitive fencing.[2]


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    A foil is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. It is flexible, rectangular in cross section, and weighs under a pound. As with the épée, points are only scored by contact with the tip, which, in electrically scored tournaments, is capped with a spring-loaded button to signal a touch. A foil fencer’s uniform features the lamé (a vest, electrically wired to record hits). The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.[1][2][3]

    There are two types of foils that are used in modern fencing. Both types are made with the same basic parts: the pommel, grip, guard, and blade. The difference between them is one is electric, and the other is known as “steam” or “dry”.[4] The blades of both varieties are capped with a plastic or rubber piece, with a button at the tip in electric blades, that provides information when the blade tip touches the opponent.[4] (There are also a range of plastic swords made by varying manufacturers for use by juniors.[5]) Lacking the button and associated electrical mechanism, a judge is required to determine the scoring and the victor in a tournament with non-electric foils.[6]

    Non-electric ones are primarily used for practice.[citation needed] The Fédération Internationale d’Escrime and most national organizations require electric scoring apparatus since the 1956 Olympics, although some organizations still fence competitively with non-electric swords.[citation needed]

    Foils have standardized, tapered, rectangular blades in length and cross-section that are made of tempered and annealed low-carbon steel[7]—or maraging steel as required for international competitions.[8] To prevent the blade from breaking or causing harm to an opponent, the blade is made to bend upon impact with its target.[4] The maximum length of the blade must be 90 cm.[9] The length of the assembled weapon at maximum is 110 cm, and the maximum weight must be less than 500g;[9] however, most competition foils are lighter, closer to 350g.[10]

    The blade of a foil has two sections: the forte (strong) which is the one third of the blade near the guard, and the foible (weak) which is the two thirds of the blade near the tip.[9] There is a part of the blade contained within the grip called a tang. It extends past the grip enough to be fastened to the pommel and to hold the rest of the foil together.[9] When an Italian grip is used, see below, a ricasso extends from under the guard, inside of the grip’s quillons, into the tang.
    fencing sword

    The guard is fastened to the blade, plug, and grip. Then the pommel, a type of fastener, is attached to the grip and holds the rest together. The type of pommel used depends on the type of grip.[4] Two grips are used in foil: straight traditional grips with external pommels (Italian, French, Spanish, and orthopedic varieties);[4] and the newer design of pistol grips, which fix the hand in a specific, ergonomic position, and which have pommels that fit into a countersink in the grip.[4]

    Beginning with the 1956 Olympics, scoring in foil has been accomplished by means of registering the touch with an electric circuit. A switch at the tip of the foil registers the touch, and a metallic foil vest, or lamé, verifies that the touch is on valid target.[12]

    The cord of any type of electric fencing weapon goes through the fencing gear, coming out behind the fencer. The cord of a foil has one end connecting to the back of the fencing strip, and the other end attaches to the foil. The two ends are not interchangeable with one another.

    The electric foil contains a socket underneath the guard that connects to the scoring apparatus via the body cord and a wire that runs down a channel cut into the top of the blade. Electric foil sockets are fixed so that the body cord plugs into the weapon at the fencer’s wrist.[4] There are two main sockets in use today: the “bayonette” which has a single prong and twists-locks into the foil, and the two prong, which has different diameters for each prong, held in place by a clip.[4]

    The tip of the electric foil terminates in a button assembly that generally consists of a barrel, plunger, spring, and retaining screws.[13] The circuit is a “normally closed” one, meaning that at rest there is always a complete power circuit; depressing the tip breaks this circuit, and the scoring apparatus illuminates an appropriate light.[citation needed] Color-coding is used: white or yellow indicates hits not on the valid target area, and either red or green indicate hits on the valid target area (red for one fencer, green for the other).[citation needed]

    The modern foil is the training weapon for the small-sword, the common sidearm of 18th century gentleman.
    Rapier and even longsword foils are also known to have been used, but their weight and use were very different.[14][15]

  • orange crossed diamond and black lettering
  • Although the foil as a blunted weapon for sword practice goes back to the 16th century (for example, in Hamlet, Shakespeare writes “let
    the foils be brought”[16]), the use as a weapon for sport is more recent. The foil was used in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century in order to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point (“blossom”, French fleuret).[3][17][18] In addition to practicing, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. German students took up that practice in academic fencing and developed the Pariser (“Parisian”) thrusting small sword for the Stoßmensur (“thrusting mensur”).[18]

    The target area for modern foil is said to come from a time when fencing was practiced with limited safety equipment. Another factor in the target area is that foil rules are derived from a period when dueling to the death was the norm. Hence, the favored target area is the torso, where the vital organs are.[18]

    In 1896, foil (and saber) were included as events in the first Olympic Games in Athens.[19]

    Women’s foil was first competed at the Olympics in 1924 in Paris,[19]
    and was the only Olympic fencing event in which women competed until women’s epeé was introduced at the 1996 Olympics.[20] Nowadays, women’s fencing is just as popular as men’s, and consists of all weapons (foil, épée, and sabre).

    Ratings/Rankings are generally run by national fencing federations and use varying scales based on that particular federations system. These ratings are used as the basis for initial seeding into the pool rounds of tournaments and vary country to country.

    Age groups are necessary to separate skill and body maturity levels in order to create a level playing field. The current age groups for foil (and also épée and sabre) are Y10 (age 10 and under), Y12 (age 12 and under), Y14 (age 14 and under), cadet (age 16 and under), junior (age 19 and under), and senior (anything over 19). While an older competitor cannot compete in a younger category, the contrary is allowed and encouraged, in order to expedite learning.

    The veteran age group consists of 40 and over, 60 and over, and 70 and over sub-groups.

    The rules for the sport of fencing are regulated by national sporting associations—in the United States, the United States Fencing Association (USFA)[21] and internationally by the International Fencing Federation, or Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE).[22]

    The detailed rules for foil are listed in the USFA Rulebook.[23]

    Rules for the sport of fencing date back to the 19th century.[24][25] The current international rules for foil were adopted by the FIE Committee for Foil on 12 June 1914. They are based on previous sets of rules adopted by national associations. The rules governing the use of electrical judging apparatus were adopted in 1957 and have been amended several times.[26]

    The foil is used as a thrusting (or point) weapon only. Contact with the side of the blade (a slap or slash) does not result in a score. The tip of the foil must be depressed for at least 15 (± .5) milliseconds while in contact with the opponent’s lamé (wire-mesh jacket which covers valid target area) to score a touch. The foil lamé only covers the torso while in saber it covers the whole upper body. The tip must be able to support a minimum force of 4.90 newtons (500 grams-force) without the circuit breaking. This is tested with a 500g (± 3g) weight.[23]

    In foil the valid target area includes the torso (including the lower part of the bib of the mask) and the groin. The head (except the lower part of the bib of the mask), arms, and legs are considered off target. Touches made off-target do not count for points, but do stop play.[27] Touches to the guard are the only touches that do not stop play.[citation needed] The target area has been changed multiple times, with the latest change consisting of adding the bottom half of the bib to the target zone.[citation needed]

    Foil competition and scoring is governed by the rules of priority, also known as right of way.[28] Originally meant to indicate which competitor would have scored the touch (or lethally injured the other), it is now a main contributor to the appeal of the sport of fencing. In essence, it decides who receives the point (there can only be one competitor that receives a point per engagement) when both competitors hit.

    The basic rules (the full list is extensive) are whoever attacks first wins. This basic rule is far extended by saying that if the defender parries (meets the attacker’s blade midair), they now have priority, and thus generally wins the point (touché).


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    There are three different weapons used in fencing: Epee, Foil and Sabre. All weapons in general, are based off of the same basic set of rules making it relatively easy to switch between epee, foil and sabre. Although, each weapon has its own unique subset of rules which affects the speed, duration and style of a fencing match.

    fencing sword

    The epee is considered the original dueling sword. It was developed in the middle of the 19th century to train individuals for duels. If you’ve seen any movie with a lot of swordplay in it chances are you are watching epee. The weapon’s blade is somewhat triangular in shape and quite stiff to bend. Since the whole body is considered target, the guard is large and bell-shape to protect the hand from hits. Hits to target are made with the point of the blade only.

    The foil evolved from the short court sword of the 17th and 18th centuries, and started as a lighter and more flexible weapon for the practice of fencing. The blade is quadrangular in shape and since only the front and back of the torsos are considered target, the bell-shaped guard is much smaller than the epee. As with epee, hits are made only with the point of the blade.

    The sabre is the weapon developed from the backsword of the Elizabethans and the heavy cavalry sabre. The sabre blade is V- shaped with the point folded over to form a button. This weapon differs in that it is a cut and thrust type weapon. Target includes the head, arms, and trunk to the waist. Because the hand is again considered target, the guard is half rounded to protect the fingers. Due to the fact that saber is a cutting weapon it is the fastest out of the three weapons.

    The days of getting suited up in 3 inch thick plate mail are long gone. Now fencing armour consists of thick cotton or even the bullet proof material Kevlar. (Kevlar is required at higher levels.) The armour allows a great deal of protection making fencing a very safe and fun sport.

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  • Fencing masks are the most crucial piece of protective equipment in fencing. Masks are made up of a metal wire mesh that covers the front and sides of the head. A fabric bib is attached to the bottom to protect the throat and neck. On the inside of the mask there is padding absorb the force of a hit as well as make it comfortable to wear. Foil and epee use a standard mask (left), while sabre masks (right) have a metal threaded bib similar to a lamé to distinguish between valid and non valid hits (see description below).

    Gloves cover approximately half of the forearm and have extra padding on the back of the hand. Gloves are worn on top of the jacket to prevent blades from slipping under the sleeve. A velcro slit runs up the the wrist of the glove to allow the body wire attach to the weapon.

    Fencing jackets are made up of either heavy cotton denim or of kevlar similar to what is used in bulletproof jackets, though not as strong. Cotton jackets are thicker and offer more padding against a strong hit, while kevlar jackets are thinner allowing less restrictive movement as well as better protection against puncturing. Kevlar equipment is usually reserved for competitive fencing, thought it is not required on the Provincial Circuit.

    Sous-Plastrons are a fail-safe piece of protective equipment which is worn on the fencer’s weapon arm, underneath the jacket. While the jacket protects the upper body completely, a sous-plastron doubles the protection in the armpit where the jacket has a seam.

    Originally, chest protectors were only used by female fencers. More recently however, it has become more common for men to wear them as well. Chest protectors are made of durable hard plastic which prevent bruising and help spread the force of a hit across a larger area.

    Breeches protect from just below the knee to several inches above the waist. They are made of either heavy cotton or kevlar. Breeches extend above the waist so that there is an overlap between them and the overlying jacket. long, padded socks are worn to cover the legs from the knee down.

    Lamés are jackets threaded with metal wires that conduct electricity allowing the scoring system to distinguish between on and off target hits. These jackets are worn only in foil and sabre are put on over top of the protective jacket. In foil, the lamé covers the torso, while in sabre it coves from the waist up.

    Body wires are used to connect the fencer’s weapon and lamé (foil & sabre only) to the reels. There are three types of bodywires. The first, which is specifically used for epee is simple and goes straight from reel to the epee. Sabre and foil share a common bodywire which splits off a single wire that attaches to the lamé. The third wire is only used in sabre and it connects the lamé to the bib of the mask.

    Fencer’s attach their body wires to retractable cord that is spooled on a reel. As the fencer moves up and down the the piste, the reel releases and retracts the wire so that the fencer doesn’t trip over it. Reels are then attached to a scoring box located in the middle of the piste by a long floor wire.

    Scoring boxes notify the judge to stop the action and assist him with determining valid hits. There are four main lights which show the location of a hit on a fencer. The white lights illuminate when an invalid or off-target hit is made. When the green light illuminates, it means that the fencer on the judge’s left hand side has made a valid, on-target hit. Ther red light means that the fencer to the judge’s right made the valid hit.

    The piste is the name given to the metal strip that denote the playing field for the sport of fencing. The piste measures 14m long by 1.5 to 2m wide, and is marked by several lines: (C) Centre Line; (G) En Guard Line; (W) 2 Metre Warning Line; (E) End Line. There is an additional metre or two added at each end of the piste to allow of run offs, but is considered out of bounds.

     

    * Logo images above courtesy of Canadian Fencing Federation.


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    By Igor Chirashnya

    On June 8, 2018

    In Equipment

    Fencing as a distinct form of combat goes all the way back to the 12th century when fencing schools started to spring up in Europe. Even to those first fencers the sword was seen as extension of the body. Fencing swords are more than just pieces of metal, they are pieces of us.  

    To the uninitiated, a fencing sword is a long piece of thin metal with a handle and a guard. It looks quite simple on the outside, but every piece and part of the fencing sword has a name and a purpose. These weapons were developed over the course of centuries of consistent use, and let’s just say that fencers have become detail oriented about their weapons. fencing sword

    New fencers might not know the names of all of the parts of their weapon, but it’s knowledge that helps fencers to become true masters of this art. So let’s review the parts of the fencing sword! We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up.

    Though there are three different weapons in fencing – epee, foil, and sabre – the parts of the sword are basically the same, though we’ve noted where there are differences between weapons. We aren’t going to go into detail into body cords here and the electric aspects of the fencing sword, only the fundamental anatomy of a basic fencing sword. There are some differences between electrical and practice weapons, so we will note which is applicable to which.

    The fencing sword is broken down into three major parts – the grip, the guard, and the blade. These constitute the entirety of the weapon.

    Then there are additional elements which are very important to the function of a fencing sword, and while these are important they are nevertheless “helping” parts. These are the point (for electric foil or epee) or the button (for the practice version of these weapons), the pad, the pommel (only for the french grip), and the socket (only for the electric version of the weapon).

    The place that a fencer’s hand holds onto is called the grip, and it’s designed for the best performance and most comfort as it’s where the sword attaches to and becomes an extension of the fencer.

    The grip is perhaps the most personal part of the fencing sword, and grips come in a wide variety of possibilities in terms of materials they are constructed from and specific shape. Within regulation fencing, there are huge possibilities for personalization in this part of the fencing sword.

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  • There are many types of grips that have been developed over the long history of fencing, but there are two that are legal for use in sport fencing.

    The French grip is straight or slightly curved. It offers flexibility because a fencer can choose to either hold the grip near the pommel to allow for longer reach while decreasing the potency of parries and beats, or closer to the guard for more force and a shorter reach. In competitive fencing, only epee fencers use french grip, while foilists transition to the pistol grip for better maneuvering of the blade. There are many different types of french grip and each epee fencer eventually ends up with using a single type which better fits their style of fencing.

    A pistol grip is called such because it’s got a handle that protrudes from the main shaft of the grip. This grip allows fencers to more directly control the blade for stronger movements. This grip fixes the hand into one position. There are many different pistol grips which fencers chose based on their individual preferences and even those standard ones are being customized by fencers all the time to reach the highest comfort level for these fencers.

    All foilists eventually use a pistol grip, while epee continues to have a mix of the two grips.

    The guard is the curved piece of flat metal that goes around the blade and protects the fencer’s hand. Foil has a smaller bell guard that’s centered on the blade, where epee has a larger bell guard that’s offset. Sabre guards have knuckle guards that wrap around the fingers to protect from blows to the hands.

    Guards come in many styles and sizes that are within regulation for epee, foil, and sabre. Fencers generally develop a preference for the kind of guard that they prefer, based on weight, feel, protection, hand size, etc.

    Foils, epees, and sabres all have blades made from low-carbon steel. This composite metal bends when the opponent is struck in order to minimize the physical impact. Injuries in fencing are uncommon compared to other sports, even non-combat sports, and even then almost all the injuries are from twisted ankles or pulled muscles, and never from the blade itself. That’s got a lot to do with strides in the construction of fencing swords, which have been developed specifically to prevent injury. Protective gear is obviously plays a major part of keeping fencers safe as well. The “curve” is the gentle bend that every fencing sword has to ensure that it bends in the proper direction when it strikes an opponent.

    That same low-carbon steel also makes fencing swords lightweight, which helps to prevent fencers from getting too tired too quickly. Long days of practice can be exhausting anyway, so a blade that’s less heavy allows fencers to work longer. Not only that, fencing blades that are lightweight move quickly and allow for fast touches!

    Metallurgy played a huge role in developing a safe, light and durable blades and a modern fencing enjoys from these advances in the science.

    The blade is arguably the most important part of the sword – after all, this is with what we hit with and defend against. Professional fencers will spend a lot of time going thru many different blades until they find a blade that they like, They’re looking from the perspective of its weight, stiffness, bendability, balance, and feel in the hand. This is their most important tool and nobody takes choosing the right one lightly.

    Blades themselves differ in two major aspects (in addition to being electric or practice):

    Fencing swords have a maximum blade length, depending on the weapon. For foil and epee, that’s 90cm with the total weapon being no more than 110cm. For sabre that’s 88cm for the blade with the entire weapon no longer than 105cm. In sport fencing the youngest fencers are required to compete with shorter blades.  

    FIE blades have been developed to an international standard of what blades should be from the perspective of manufacturing and quality in order to satisfy the strictest international safety standards.

    The pommel is the bottom end of the fencing sword, holding the whole thing together. A pommel is generally made of metal and is screwed to the blade. As with handle itself, there are a lot of different types of pommels. This part of the sword is especially important to those epee fencers who fence with a french grip, and the pommel oftentimes matches the handle itself. Pommels mainly differ from the perspective of size, material, form, and weight. In the hands of professional epee fencer, the pommel balances the shape of the handle and the weight of the entire weapon, thus it is an incredibly important piece.

    The pad is simply a lining inside the guard. It exists only for the comfort of the fencer, to prevent knuckles and fingers from getting hurt on the metal bell guard during a match. Pads can be made of cloth (felt),  leather, or plastic. When the pad is made of plastic it can can also be made transparent so that referees and fencers can see thru when they are examining the weapon.

    The uncovered end of the weapon’s blade is known as the point. Back when these weapons were used primarily for dueling lethally intended weapons had points that were sharpened as much as possible. Today in modern fencing, points are blunted and are  flattened into a shape that looks like the head of a nail, then covering them with a button.

    Points aren’t even pointy!

    Basically there are two types of point – electrical and practice. The practice point (aka the button) is a plastic piece that’s worn on the end of the blunted blade and provides even more cushioning during the stubbing. The electric point is a whole mechanism of barrel, springs, screws and point that connect electrical wire from the point thru the narrow channel on the blade to the socket under the guard. The electric point is moving and under pressure on the target will move in such a way that it creates a contact with the wire inside the barrel that closes the circuitry and registers the touch. This is quite a delicate mechanism and sometimes it breaks and requires repairs, so careful care of it is needed whenever possible.

    The socket is nothing more than a piece where the body cord can plug into the electrical mechanism connected to the point. It sits between the guard and the grip, and while there are some variations in style, this part of the sport fencing weapon is simple!

    Most of the anatomy of a fencing sword has remained exactly the same over the course of centuries. There are tweaks in materials and construction. We’ve seen the addition of electro-mechanical elements in the modern fencing swords to register the touch.  Yet for the most part the weapons that we fence with today carry the same parts that fencing weapons have carried for hundreds of years!

    Modern fencing blades and guards  have been specifically designed with safety in mind, so even where there are differences they have almost always been made in the name of safety.

    Now that you know all of the terms for the parts of your fencing sword, why not go grab your sword out of that fencing bag and see which parts you can identify!

    [You can download the pdf version of the infographic here]

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    m.5.2. “For foil and épée, inside the guard there must be a cushion (padding) sufficiently wide *to protect the electric wires from the fencer’s fingers*. The padding on the inside of the guard must be less than 2 cm thick and must be arranged in such a way as *not to increase the protection* which the guard affords the hand.”

    Thanks for the additional technical information. This definitely adds to the post ?

    Hi,
    Is Z-Pro Maraging weapon from Leon Paul worth the price? I’m looking for a good lightweight sever weapon for my son.
    Thank youfencing sword

    Hi Selfia,
    I am not that familiar with sabre blades (AFM focuses on epee and foil), but with maraging lightweight BF blade, which is what you want to purchase for your son, I believe it is hard to get wrong. BF is the best fencing blades forgery in the world (https://www.blaise-freres.fr/fr/) and their blades are most widely used by all level of fencers.
    Hope this helps.
    Igor.

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    Foil, epee and saber are the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. While it is not unusual for fencers to compete in all three events, an athlete typically chooses to hone their skills in one weapon.

    Foil – The Sport of Kings

    The foil is a descendant of the light court sword formally used by nobility to train for duels. The foil has a flexible rectangular blade, approximately 35 inches in length and weighs less than one pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land within the torso of the body. The valid target area in foil is the torso from the shoulders to the groin in the front and to the waist in the back. It does not include the arms, neck, head and legs. This concept of on‐target and off‐target evolved from the theory of 18th‐ century fencing masters who instructed their pupils to only attack the vital areas of the body – i.e. the torso. Of course, the head is also a vital area of the body, but attacks to the face were considered unsporting and therefore discouraged.

    The foil fencer’s uniform includes a metallic vest (called a lamé), which covers the valid target area so that a valid touch will register on the scoring machine. The flexible nature of the foil blade permits the modern elite foil fencer to attack an opponent from seemingly impossible angles.

    Epee – Freestyle Fencing

    fencing sword

    The epee (pronounced “EPP‐pay,” meaning sword in French), the descendant of the dueling sword, is similar in length to the foil, but is heavier, weighing approximately 27 ounces, with a larger guard (to protect the hand from a valid hit) and a much stiffer blade. Touches are scored only with the point of the blade, and the entire body, head‐to‐toe, is the valid target area, imitating an actual duel.

    A full‐body target naturally makes epee a competition of careful strategy and patience – wild, rash attacks  are  quickly  punished  with  solid  counter‐attacks.

    Therefore,  rather  than attacking  outright, epeeists often spend several minutes probing their opponent’s defenses and maneuvering for distance before risking an attack. Others choose to stay on the defensive throughout the entire bout.

    1996 was the first Olympics to feature team and individual women’s epee events.

    Saber – Hack and Slash

    The saber is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword, and is similar in length and weight to the foil. The major difference is the use of the blade. The saber is a cutting weapon as well as a thrusting weapon; therefore, saberists can score with the edge of their blade as well as their point. The target area is from the bend of the hips (both front and back), to the top of the head. This simulates the cavalry rider on a horse. The saber fencers’ uniform includes a metallic jacket (lamé), which fully covers the target area to register a valid touch on the scoring machine. Because the head is valid target area, the fencer’s mask is also electrically wired.

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  • If epee is the weapon of patient, defensive strategy, then saber is its polar opposite. In saber, the rules of right‐of‐way strongly favor the fencer who attacks first, and a mere graze by the blade against the lamé registers a touch with the scoring machine. These circumstances naturally make saber a fast, aggressive  game,  with  fencers  rushing  their  opponent  from  the  moment  the  referee  gives  the instruction to fence. Athens was the first Olympics to feature a Women’s Saber event.


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