Getting Started / 101

Preparation

Check your equipment thoroughly to make sure that everything is in order. It is also important to stretch thoroughly before beginning your fencing routine.

Rules

The FIE maintains the current rules used for 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 adhere to FIE standards.

To view the rules handbook click here. http://static9.fie.org/uploads/7/37378-2015-09-23-CAHIER-DES-CHARGES-CHM-ANG.pdf

Safety Tips

This sport was derived from the tactical ability to kill or disable an enemy so precautions should always be taken when competing or practicing with an opponent. Safety should always be taken seriously and respected when fencing.

The fact is that fencing is one of the safest non-contact sports.

Indeed, most blows are nothing more than a tap and even harder blow that are not common will be absorbed by the flex of the blade.  Modern fencing blades are not sharp.  The tip is flat and protected by a rubber cushioned tip or a metal button on electric weapons.  Your body is covered by several layers of protective fencing clothing made from puncture-proof material like Kevlar. Kevlar issued in bullet proof vests.  Your mask protects the head, eyes and neck and are constructed with sturdy mesh steel designed to withstand the impact of the weapon.

In the summer Olympics fencing was one of the 10 safest sports. It was even safer than Badminton.

Techniques for Foil/épée and sabre

Techniques or movements in fencing can be divided into two categories: offensive and quickly 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.

  • Offensive

    • Attack: A basic fencing technique, also called a thrust, consisting of extending the sword arm to declare an attack and attempt to land a touch upon the opponent's valid area. In sabre, attacks are also made with a cutting action.

    • Riposte: An attack by the defender after a successful parry. After the attacker has completed their attack, and it has been parried, the defender then has the opportunity to make an attack, and take right of way (foil and saber).

    • Feint: An attack with the purpose of provoking a reaction from the opposing fencer.

    • Lunge: A thrust while extending the front leg by using a slight kicking motion and propelling the body forward with the back leg.

    • Beat Attack: In foil & sabre, the attacker beats the opponent's blade to gain priority (right of way) and continues the attack against the target area. In épée, a similar beat is made but with the intention to disturb the opponent's aim and thus score with a single light.

    • Disengage: Beginning an attack in one direction, then quickly moving the point down in a semi-circle to attack a different location. This is used to trick the opponent into blocking the wrong direction. For example, the fencer could target the left side of the torso, and begin the lunge. As the opponent moves to the left to parry, the fencer disengages and finishes the attack on the right side of the torso. Commonly countered with a circle-parry.

    • Continuation of Attack: A typical épée action of making a 2nd after attack after the first attack is parried. This may be done with a change in line; example, an attack in the high line (above the opponent's bellguard, such as the shoulder) is then followed with an attack to the low line (below the opponent's bellguard, such as the thigh, or foot); or from the outside line (outside of the bellguard, such as outer arm) to the inside line (inside the bellguard, such as the inner arm or the chest). A second continuation is stepping slight past the parry and angulating the blade to bring the tip of the blade back on target.

    • Remise. A second attack immediately after the first has missed or been parried. In foil or sabre, a remise is considered to have lost right of way, and the defender's riposte will always score instead of the remise.

    • Flick: a technique used primarily in foil. It takes advantage of the extreme flexibility of the blade to use it like a whip, bending the blade so that it curves over and strikes the opponent with the point. This technique has become much more difficult due to timing changes which require the point to stay depressed for longer to set off the light.

  • Defensive

    • Parry: Basic defence technique, block the opponent's weapon while it is preparing or executing an attack to deflect the blade away from the fencer's valid area and (in foil and sabre) to give fencer the right of way. Usually followed by a riposte, a return attack by defender.

    • Circle Parry: A parry where the sword is twisted in a circle to catch the opponent's tip and deflect it away. It is commonly used to counter a disengage.

    • Counter Attack: A basic fencing technique of attacking your opponent while generally moving back out of the way of the opponent's attack. Used quite often in épée to score against the attacker's hand/arm. More difficult to accomplish in foil and sabre unless one is quick enough to make the counterattack and retreat ahead of the advancing opponent without being scored upon, or by evading the attacking blade via moves such as the In Quartata (turning to the side) or Passata-sotto (ducking).

    • Point In Line: Extending the weapon and arm against the opponent's target area. In foil and sabre, this gives one priority if the extension is made before the opponent is approximately advance-lunge distance away. When performed as a defensive action, the attacker must then disturb the extended weapon to re-take priority; otherwise the defender has priority and the counter-attack like action will win the touch if the attacker does not manage a single light. When performed as an offensive action, the intent is usually a means for the attacker to draw a defensive action that can be deceived and the attack continued. In épée, there is no priority; the move may be used as a means by either fencer to achieve a double-touch and advance the score by 1 for each fencer.

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 sentences have been said by the referee: "En garde" (On guard), "Êtes-vous prêts ?" (Are you ready ?, to which the fencers have to answer yes), "Allez" (Go).

–From Wikipedia

Beginner Check List

Basics of what you need for the first time out, even basics like water or sunglasses.

Basic equipment will be your jacket, mask, glove and weapon. Most fencing clubs and schools will have this equipment available for use.

We suggest you try fencing at a reputable club or school before investing in your equipment.