We thought we would provide some information for any parents who aren’t very familiar with fencing – this may help you better understand what you are watching when you see your child fence!

Typical Match:

  • Begins with fencers facing each other on the “Strip” or “Piste”. (1.5m wide, 17m long, metal, rubber, or just marked out in tape).
  • If a fencer is left-handed, they will flip sides to be easier to watch movements.
  • The Referee (called a Director) tells the Fencers to be ready using “En Garde”.
  • The “bout” (match) starts when the Director says “Allez” (“Go” in French).
  • In High School fencing, the bouts last until one fencer makes 5 points or until time has run out (3 minutes).

Weapons:

  • Foil – The foil has a flexible rectangular blade. Points are scored with the tip of the blade only.
  • Sabre – The saber is a cutting weapon as well as a thrusting weapon; therefore, saberists can score with the edge of their blade as well as their point.
  • Epée – The epée is a little longer than foil, but is heavier, with a larger guard and a much stiffer blade. Touches are scored with the tip of the blade only.

Target Areas:

  • In Foil fencing, the torso is a valid target. You can see this as they are wearing a metal conductive vest.
  • In Sabre fencing, the torso, arms, and mask are valid targets. You can see this as they are wearing a metal conductive jacket.
  • In Epée fencing, the entire body and mask are valid targets. You can see this as they are in all white, and do not wear conductive material.

Lights:

  • Each fencer is attached via a “body cord” through a “reel” to either a red (left side) or green (right side) light.
  • In its most simple form, if one light comes on, that fencer has scored a touch (point).

Things to watch for in scoring:

  • Each weapon has legal and illegal ways to score, so there will be some times when a light will go on, but the point will be invalidated.
  • Watching videos online of a specific weapon is a great way to learn more about how this all works!
  • In Sabre, there are a lot of times where you will see both lights come on. Depending on how the each fencer makes the touch, the call could be that no legal move was made (no point awarded), both fencers made a legal move (the points cancel out), or one made a legal move prior to the other (1 point awarded)
  • In Epée, a double touch is possible, where both lights come on and both fencers are awarded points.
  • In Foil, a yellow light signifies an off target touch (missing the metallic vest).
  • A yellow light can also signify an error with the electronics of the weapon, cords, or other equipment.
  • The Director uses hand motions to indicate how the point was scored.