About Fencing

What is Fencing?

Oxford English Dictionary:

“The action or art of using the sword scientifically as a weapon of offence or defense; the practice of this art with a blunted sword, foil or stick”

Fencing, as an ancient art, was used as a means of settling disputes, often ending in death. Fencing in the modern world, however, is a more refined and safety focused version of this. It is a very tactical sport as one requires swift movement and the ability to think quickly under pressure. Fencing is a sport which is present throughout the world, with both young and old participating. The weapons used in the ancient art are still present, in some form, in our modern weapons.

Modern Times Fencing

The sport of Fencing is always changing. In the last century alone, we have seen the move from visual to electric fencing, the invention of Kevlar safety gear and the incorporation of female fencing into Olympic Fencing.

Electric Fencing

In 1936, Epée was the first weapon adapted to electric fencing. This was a very big step forward for fencing technology and it has forever revolutionized Epée fencing. Electric foil followed in 1956, while Sabré was not made electric until 1988.

Foil fencing runs on a closed circuit system. This means that when a foil hits off target, it breaks the circuit but when it contacts with the lamé, the circuit is earthed. Sabré runs on a closed circuit also, but there is no ‘off target’ option.

Epée is run on an open circuit system which means that when contact is made, the circuit is complete.

Both the Foil and the Epée blades have a thin wire running along them, down to the tip (a button), making circuits possible. The Sabré has no wire but rather the circuit uses the metal blade itself to complete the circuit, earthing when contact is made with the lamé.

Olympic Fencing

Fencing is one of the only four sports to have been represented in every Olympic Games since 1896; the year of the first Modern Olympic Games. Men’s Foil and Sabré events were present, in their visual form. Men’s Epée joined the Olympics in 1900. In 1912, both France and Italy refused to compete due to discrepancies in the fencing rules. Because of this, in 1913 the Federation Internationale D’Escrime was founded to regulate the rules.
Women’s fencing in the Olympic Games was introduced later, with Women’s foil present in the Games in 1924; Women’s Epée was later introduced in 1956. Women’s Sabré was not introduced until very recently; the first Women’s Olympic Sabré event was held in Athens in 2004.

Electric fencing in the Olympic Games was introduced in:

Epée – 1936
Foil – 1956
Sabré – 1992


Source: Fencing Central

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