Fencing is a sport of sword fighting that is dexterous and exciting. It uses the same techniques as it did several hundred years ago in Olympic games.
If you could put together a swordsman, protective clothing and even an electronic scoring system then you will come out with modern day fencing. Fencing is an evolved form of an ancient fighting style. Fencing is one of the only four sports found in every one of the Olympic games.
There are three kinds of swords for fencing. They are the "foil" the "epee" and the "sabre". The foil and the epee are used for pointing and thrusting. The sabre is used for pointing, thrusting and cutting. The foil is called the best weapon. It is for teaching and is 17 5/8 oz and the maximum length is 3 feet 6 inches. Epee is 27 1/8 oz and the same length of a foil but with a thicker blade and a larger hand protector. Sabre is one inch shorter than a foil but lighter.
Fencers have to wear special protection to withstand those swords. The jackets are made of double thickness cotton cloth or kevlar. The masks are made of wire mesh with 2.1-millimeter (which is less than 1/10 of an inch) gaps and with a minimum gauge of 1mm in diameter. The wire used in these masks is usually made of stainless steel.
The battle begins very strangely. First the sword masters are unmasked and their swords are held to the chin and then put down with their masks. Both fencers will then go into En Garde positions 13 feet apart from each other. After that the opponents will try to distribute their weight evenly and curl up the arm in the rear. This will give the opponent less areas to strike. Then the rest of the fight will be decided by the opponents and only by the opponents. They may use a large variety of movements or attacks such as the "parry" or "thrust".
These days we have an electronic scoring system. The first appearance of electronic scoring was in the Berlin games in 1936. The blades have a circuit on them that tells if the person has scored a point. A touch of 1 lbs. & 1 ½ of ounces in the foil or 1 lbs. & 10 ½ ounces in epee is registered as a point. A red light or green light means that one fencer has landed a hit in a valid target area; the fencer that gets the point is the one that makes the hit that is decided by right-of-way by the referees. A white light means that the hit was not valid. Multiple lights mean that the referee will decide who gets the point according the rule of right-of-way. In the epee event the point will be awarded to both fencers. You’re probably wondering what the rule of right-of-way rule is. It is a rule that stops both fencers from getting a point if they touch at the same time. The referee will decide who will be getting the point by seeing which light went on first. In an epee match the point is awarded to both fencers because there is no right-of-way rule in an epee event. To win you must score 15 hits on your opponent.
The electronic scoring system is great but before we had electric scoring, judges used ink on the swords so when the jacket was hit it would stain so people could see how many times he was hit. After the event people would use vinegar to wipe away the stains that were given during the contest. Contestants would usually cheat by putting the vinegar on their jackets so the ink wouldn’t show which meant that no one could tell how many times he was hit.
In the Olympics
In the Olympic
games fencing has two man-to-man or, in this case, woman-to-woman events, the
men and women’s. There is an Epee event, Foil event and a Sabre event
for the men. The women are no different, or, have the same events except
they do not have the Sabre event. In the team events 12 countries may
enter 3 people each. Once that happens they enter a match. The first
team to score 45 hits will be the winners.
Fencing also has team games. It has Foil, Epee and Sabre for men as well as women.
Men and women battle on a certain surface too. It is called a "Piste" which is a strip of metallic mesh that is 6 feet long and 7 feet wide. The "En Garde" lines are 6 feet 7 inches from the centerline.
For a biography of U.S. fencer Cliff Bayer, click here.
Past Olympics Champions:
1996 Alessandro Puccini (Italy), 1992 Philippe Omnes (France)
Men's Team Foil: 1996 Russia, 1992 Germany
1996 Laura Badea (Romania), 1992 Giovanna Trillini (Italy)
Women's Team Foil: 1996 & 1992 Italy
1996 Aleksander Beketov (Russia), 1992 Eric Srecki (France)
Men's Team Epee: 1996 Italy, 1992 Germany
1996 Laura Flessel (France)
Women's Team Epee: 1996 France
1996 Stanislav Pozdnyakkov (Russia), 1992 Bence Szabo (Hungary)
Men's Team Sabre: 1996 Russia