information about the sport of fencing





The sport of fencing is fast and athletic. It is a very far cry from the choreographed bouts you see on film or on the stage. Instead of swinging from a chandelier or leaping off from balconies, you will see two skilled fencers moving back and forth on a 6-feet by 44-feet strip. The action is so fast the touches are scored electronically.


THE BOUT

Competitors win a fencing bout by being the first to score 15 points (in direct elimination play) or 5 points (in preliminary pool play) against their opponent, or by having a higher score than their opponent when the time limit expires. Each time a fencer lands a valid hit - a touch - on their opponent, she receives one point. The time limit for direct elimination matches is nine minutes - three three-minute periods with a one-minute break between each. Fencing at the Olympic Games will feature a single-elimination table format, much like that used in Tennis. There will be no preliminary rounds, as the initial seeding into the table will be determined by World Rankings.


THE WEAPONS

Foil, epee and saber are the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. While some fencers compete in all three events, the elite generally choose to focus their energies on mastering one weapon. The foil is a descendant of the light court sword formerly used by nobility to train for duels. It has a flexible, rectangular blade approximately 35 inches in length and weighing less than one pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land on valid targets: torso from shoulders to groin in the front and to the waist in the back. The arms, neck, head and legs are considered off-target. Hits to this non-valid target temporarily halts the fencing action, but does not result any points being awarded. The saber is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword. The epee (literally meaning "sword" in French) is the descendant of the dueling sword.


Interesting Fencing Facts


1. Fencing is one of only four sports to be included in every modern Olympic Games, since the first in 1896. Fencing was also a sport in the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece.


2. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games, was a fencer.


3. The tip of the fencing weapon is the second fastest moving object in sport the first is the marksman's bullet.


4. Fencing is conducted on a 14m x 2m "strip" or "piste." The end of the fencing strip represents the line drawn in the earth by duelists' seconds: to retreat behind this line during the duel indicated cowardice and loss of honor.


5. The 750 gram weight test used to calibrate a touch, or is based on the amount of tension required to break the skin. In a duel, the victor's honor was insured when blood was first drawn -- even if from a minor wound such as a blister.