Fencing, what it is and why I love it.

Fencing, what it is and why I love it.

Hi everyone! Today will be an intro lesson to the rules of fencing and why it’s so much fun :).

So the sport of fencing was originally created to practice sword fighting in a safe way to allow you to get good for when you had to duel for real :). Because of this it has things in common with old fashioned dueling, traditional sports rules, and some uniquely fencing things. There are 3 weapons, each with slightly different rules and shapes / sizes. The one that is usually seen in movies is the saber, it has an edge on one side and you can score with any part of the blade. Saber also relies on a slashing motion, making it easy for beginners to pick up. Saber does have the concept of right of way, which means if both people score there are rules for who will get the point based on who attacked first, if there was a counter move or block, and things like that.

The next weapon is the epee. Epees are the heaviest sword and most closely resemble the 17th century French dueling weapon. You can only score with the tip, and it has a metal button that you have to push that determines if a hit was valid. There is no right of way, so any valid score is a point. But it has a very tight lock out window of 40 milliseconds. So if someone scores a point, you have to also score within 40 milliseconds for it to count.

Which brings me to the reason I love fencing. It is extremely fast, and due to the distances involved parafencing is actually the fastest sport in the Olympics or Paralympics. When they say “if you blink you will miss it” this is not an exaggeration. The difference between a point and a miss can be as little as a millimeter or a few microseconds. It relies on making the correct decision instantly and then executing the move with perfection. And unlike say a baseball pitch or other sports, when you operate at these speeds your brain doesn’t have time to think “oh yeah, that blade isn’ sharp”. It’s a great feeling :).

The last sword is foil. This is a purely sport sword and is the hardest and has the most rules. Only shots to the chest count, it has a lot of rules for determining right of way, and you can only score with the tip which can be very finicky if not well maintained. Foil is also the most common and popular for historical reasons.

There’s a lot more to cover but this is enough to watch a match and figure out what’s happening! So hop on YouTube and check out some matches :).