WHAT IS FENCING
Modern Fencing; a sport of swordfighting which is directly descended from the duel. It is an ancient sport which has been in the Olympics since 1896. Fencing has often been described as super fast speed chess. Two competitors face off in a bout, and compete to score points on each other with their weapons (Foil, Epee & Sabre). Both fencers will outwit, outplay and outlast each other through bladework, footwork, tactics and strategies. Fencing bouts are characterised by flurries of speed, highly aerobic movement, and lightning-fast blade movements.

A bout (or a match) in any discipline, is fenced on a field of play called a piste, measuring 1.5m x 14m, which is constructed of conducting material and electrically linked to the registering apparatus. The bout is controlled and judged by a referee. Hits made in various forms, are indicated via coloured lights (red or green) on the electric scoring apparatus. Hits are registered via electric circuitry in the fencer’s weapon and clothing, connected to the apparatus via cabling on spring-loaded reels. The referee awards hits, based on the indications of the registering apparatus, and on his or her analysis of the phrasing of the fencing actions of the combatants. Each discipline (weapon) has its own particular rules regarding valid or invalid hits and right-of-ways.
THE WEAPONS

Foil and épée 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 electrically.
 
Foil
Foilists tend to be versatile, thoughtful and athletic. There are a lot of back-and-forth footwork movement and blade work. The valid target area in foil is the torso, from the shoulders to the groin, front and back. It does not include the head, neck, arms and legs. 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. There are two scoring lights on the machine. Green or red lamp will be lighted (depending on which side the fencer is positioned) when a fencer is hit. A touch landing outside the valid target area (that which is not covered by the lamé) is indicated by a white light. These "off target" hits do not count in the scoring.
 
Épée
Épée (pronounced "EPP-pay") is a direct descendant of the duel fought to first blood. Touches are scored with the tip, and the target is the entire body. Whoever hits first scores the touch, regardless of who initiates the attack. Because of this, epee fencers usually try to hit the closest target to them (which is very often the hand). Height is definitely an advantage for those who wish to take up epee. To be a good epee fencer one has to have good distance control, timing, speed and patience.
 
Sabre
Sabre is the fastest and flashiest of the three weapons. The style is derived from the fighting tactics of the old cavalry. For this reason, the target for sabre is everything from the waist up, including the head and hand. The sabre fencer's uniform includes a metallic jacket (lamé), which covers the target area to register a valid touch on the scoring machine. The mask is different from foil and épée, with a metallic covering since the head is valid target area. This is also the only weapon in which you can score with both thrusting and cutting or slashing your opponent. They cannot, however, simply bulldoze their opponents because they must pay attention to right-of-way. Off-target hits do not register on the machine.
Right-of-way? Huh?

In foil and in sabre, fencers need to pay close attention to what is called “the right of way” in fencing. Right-of-way can be explained by comparing a fencer to the serving team in a volleyball match – only the serving team can score points in volleyball, and only the fencer with the right-of-way can score a touch. You can earn right of way by starting an attack before your opponent does, or by parrying (blocking) your opponent’s attack. Right-of-way can be complicated, but it gets easy with time.
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