The sport of fencing is a uniquely classic sport. It has history, drama, romance, style, art, plus all the advantages of an active physically demanding sport. Mentally it is mind consuming, allowing not a moment’s break.
Fencing is also fast and athletic, a far cry from the choreographed bouts you see on film or on the stage. Instead of swinging from a chandelier or leaping from balconies, you will see two fencers performing an intense dance on a six foot-by-40 foot strip. The movement is so fast the touches are scored electrically – more like Star Wars than Errol Flynn.
Benefits of Fencing
There are many benefits to participating in youth fencing. Children learn good sportsmanship and self-discipline. They learn to compete independently as well as for a team; they learn to enjoy winning and profit from defeats, while becoming physically fit and healthy; and, most importantly, they learn to make complex decisions, analyze problems, and think fast. These ideals help children reach their potential in many areas other than fencing.
Remember that the primary motivating factor for entering sports, particularly among adolescents, is the desire to have fun. The following pages will help you assist them in reaching this goal. Don’t forget, Olympic Champions have fun too.
Foil, epee, and sabre are the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. Foil and epee are point-thrusting weapons. Sabre is a point thrusting as well as a cutting weapon. The target areas differ for the three weapons, though all three are scored electronically.
The foil has a flexible rectangular blade, approximately 35 inches in length, weighing 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, front and back. It does not include the arms, neck, head and legs. The foil fencer’s uniform includes a metallic vest (called a lame), which covers the valid target area, so that a valid touch will register on the scoring machine. A small, spring-loaded tip is attached to the point of the foil and is connected to a wire inside the blade. The fencer wears a body cord inside his uniform, which connects the foil to a reel wire, connected to the scoring machine. A touch on the valid surface will register a colored light on the scoring machine. A touch on the non-valid surface will register a white light.
The epee (pronounced “EPP-pay”), 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. The entire body is the valid target area.
The blade is wired with a spring-loaded tip at the end that completes an electrical circuit when it is depressed beyond a pressure of 750 grams. This causes the colored bulb on the scoring machine to light. Because the entire body is a valid target area, the epee fencer’s uniform does not include a lame.
The sabre is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword, and is similar in length and weight to the foil. The major difference is that the sabre is a thrusting weapon as well as a cutting weapon (use of the blade). The target area is from the bend of the hips (both front and back), to the top of the head, simulating the cavalry rider on a horse. The sabre fencer’s uniform includes a metallic jacket (lame), which covers the target area to register a valid touch on the scoring machine. The mask is different from foil and epee, with a metallic covering since the head is valid target area.
Touches that arrive on the valid surface register a colored light on the scoring machine. Off-target hits do not register on the machine.