Introduction to Fencing

January 1, 2010

 

National Federation
Fencing Ireland
Branksome Dene
Frankfort Park
Dundrum
Dublin 14

Email:  secretary@irishfencing.net
Web:    www.irishfencing.net

 

Fencing evolved from an ancient form of combat, and is practiced indoors. The fencer tries to score the total hits needed to win, while at the same time dexterously avoids being hit by the opponent.

Foil, épée and sabre are the three weapons used in the sport of Fencing, in which both men and women compete. The target areas, as well as the blade, differ for the three weapons.

Olympic History
Competitive fencing as a sport flourished in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century and as a result, it was included on the programme of the first modern Olympics. An interesting aside is that there were events for professionals in the early Olympics. Pierre de Coubertin, the champion of amateur sport, made a concession for professors of military fencing. The professional events had disappeared by London 1908.

The Hungarian Aladar Gerevich is the only athlete in any sport to win the same Olympic event six times. Gerevich was a member of the champion sabre team in each of the Olympics from Los Angeles  in 1932 until Rome in 1960. Had not two stagings of the Olympics been cancelled during World War II, Gerevich might very well have won the same event a staggering eight times!

Technical Details
Fencing calls for adaptability, inventiveness, good organization, and patience. This is achieved by good partnership between the fencer and the fencing master. Hard effort is needed if a competitor is to be ready for a match, and long hours must be spent in training, where great attention and discipline are needed.

Fencing evolved from an ancient form of combat, and is practiced indoors. The fencer tries to score the total hits needed to win, while at the same time dexterously avoids being hit by the opponent.

Foil, épée and sabre are the three weapons used in the sport of Fencing, in which both men and women compete. The target areas, as well as the blade, differ for the three weapons.

Six Fencing disciplines are on the Olympic programme, which include six individual and four team events:

Rules

Individual bouts
Each bout shall consist of three rounds of three minutes each, with one minute between rounds. The winner is the fencer who first scores 15 valid hits on the opponent or who scores the greater number of hits by the end of the bout. If the players are level by the end of normal match time, one minute’s extra time will be fenced and the winner shall be the first to score a touch on the opponent.

Team bouts
A team consists of three fencers, and the winning team is the first one to score a total of 45 hits on the fencers of the opposing team, or the one to score the greater number of hits by the end of the bout.

Foil
The foil is exclusively a strike weapon. The foil attack is with the tip of the weapon only. During play (from the command “Play!” to the command “Halt!”) the fencer is expressly forbidden to set, prop or drag the tip of the foil on the metal piste. The fencer is also forbidden to repair the weapon on the piste during play, under any circumstances, without previous permission from the judge. The foil fencer is also forbidden, during play, to bring the other arm in front of the sword arm; and if he or she does so, any hit so made shall be invalid.

Valid target area
The valid target area in foil fencing is defined as follows:
Only hits on the ‘valid target area’ count. The valid target area is restricted to the trunk of the body, and does not include the extremities or head.

Invalid target area
A hit landing on an invalid target area (whether directly or as a result of a parry) does not count as valid, and the bout is stopped even if a second hit has been received meanwhile.

Hits
Bouts in foil fencing are conducted with the aid of an electrical scoring apparatus, which registers the hits. The indication by the apparatus of a hit is the only criterion whereby the existence of a hit is judged. The judge may not declare that a fencer has received a hit unless the apparatus has recorded the hit in the normal way (save for circumstances provided for in the Rules of Fencing).

Epée
The épée is exclusively a strike weapon. The épée attack is with the tip of the weapon only. During play (from the command “Play!” to the command “Halt!”) the fencer is expressly forbidden to set, prop or drag the tip of the épée on the metal piste. The fencer is also forbidden to repair the weapon on the piste during play, under any circumstances.

Valid target area
In épée the whole of the fencer’s body, including the clothing and gear, is the valid target area. Thus any hit to any part of the body (trunk, extremities, head), the clothing, or the gear is reckoned as valid.

Hits
Bouts in épée fencing are conducted with the aid of an electrical scoring apparatus, which registers the hits. When both fencers receive a hit and the apparatus shows both hits as valid, this is a ‘double hit’ (i.e. one hit to each fencer). The indication by the apparatus of a hit is the only criterion whereby the status of a hit is judged.
The judge may not declare that a fencer has received a hit unless the apparatus has recorded the hit in the normal way (save for circumstances envisaged in the Rules and in ‘penalty hits’. The penalties that are imposed on the athletes vary depending on the athlete’s attitude, for example expediency, accidentally, etc.).

Sabre
The sabre is a weapon by which a hit can be made either with the cutting edge or with the back edge.
All hits with the whole of the cutting edge, with the surface or with the back edge of the blade are reckoned as ‘hits with the cutting edge’ (coups de taille) or ‘back-edge cuts’ (coups de contre-taille)
Hits may not be given with the guard (i.e. the hollow metal surface between blade and grip protecting the sabre fencer’s wrist). Any hit with the guard is invalid and a competitor making such a hit is subject to certain penalties as described in the Rules, which vary depending on the athlete’s attitude, for example expediency, accidentally, etc. Hits (coulés) with the point of the sabre that glance over the valid target area, or hits that only just touch the opponent’s body (unsuccessful hits) are not considered valid.
Hits with the blade (i.e. hits that simultaneously touch the opponent’s sabre and the valid target area) are valid only if they clearly finish up on the valid target area.
The fencer may not under any circumstances repair the weapon on the piste.

The valid target area
Only hits on the valid target area count. The valid target area is all of the body above a line extending horizontally from the top of the crotch formed by the thighs and the fencer’s trunk when on guard.
A hit landing outside the valid target area is not considered valid: it halts the bout but does not render any subsequent hit invalid. Should the fencer hit an invalid target area in place of the valid target area (whether by covering up the latter or by an illegal movement), the judge applies the appropriate penalty in accordance with Rules.

Hits
The apparatus counting a hit is the only criterion where the existence of a hit is judged. The judge may not declare that a fencer has received a hit unless the apparatus has recorded the hit in the normal way (save for circumstances envisaged in the Rules and in ‘penalty hits’. The penalties that are imposed on the athletes vary depending on the athlete’s attitude, for example expediency, accidentally, etc.).
Notwithstanding, the judge must take into account possible malfunction of the electrical equipment and must above all annul any hit awarded after the ‘hit’ indicator on the apparatus has appeared. If a malfunction, is declared after a series of tests are conducted, there is a reprise of play without any alteration in the material in front of him/her.

 

 

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