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What is fencing?

A crash course in Olympic fencing


Out of the three weapons, foil started its life as a training weapon for Epee as a lighter version with similar technique. Foil is a thrusting weapon, meaning you hit with the tip of the sword. The target area in foil is the torso only (including the back!). It is also a weapon of conventions, which means there is always an attacker and a defender. 

Foil is Britain's most successful weapon in recent memory with Richard Kruse placing 4th at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Since then, Kruse has won every Grand Prix and World Cup and placed second at the 2018 World Championships. Although Kruse has now retired. 

Team GB was represented by Marcus Mepstead at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. As part of the Tokyo 2020 promotion, Marcus Mepstead did a short workout based on some of his training which is worth a watch.

School Bout


Epee is the closest fencing gets to traditional duelling as both fencers are always attacking and defending at the same time. If both fencers score a touch, both get a point. Therefore fencers must be incredibly tactical. In epee, the entire body is the target area. That means you can be hit anywhere, including your hands, feet or head!

Most epee bouts result in both fencers being very careful. Although Swiss fencer, Max Heinzer, is one of the most energetic and exciting epeeists to watch. He rarely gives his opponent time to realise the bout has started!

Dueling Fencers


Sabre is different from Foil and Epee in the sense that rather than being a thrusting weapon, it is a cutting weapon. This does not mean Sabreurs cut each other to pieces and draw blood, don't worry! What this means is that sabre fencers can score points with any part of the blade, not just the tip. Interestingly, the target area in sabre is the waist upwards. This is because it derives from cavalry sabre, and historically cutting any lower would have risked killing the opponent's horse. We have long since left horses out of fencing, but can still move pretty quickly on our feet.   

Our head coach, Luke, is a sabreur at heart; he fences, referees, and coaches sabre. 

To appreciate the true speed of sabre, take a moment to watch Olga Kharlan (UKR) demonstrate against 600hp of race car!

Fencing Bout
What is Fencing?: Services
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