About Fencing - Weapons & Styles

The Foil

The foil originated as the training weapon for the small sword which was a popular sidearm in the 17th and 18th centuries. The modern foil has flexible, rectangular blade and its overall weight is less than a pound. In competition points are only scored by contact when the foil's tip makes contact with the opponent's valid target area, which consists of the torso and the groin. The head (except the lower neck portion of the mask), arms, and legs are considered off target, and touches made in these locations do not count for points, but do stop play. Foil fencing is also governed by the rules of priority or right of way. Under these rules, points are not necessarily awarded to the first fencer to hit, but to the fencer who hits with priority which is generally established when one fencer starts a correctly executed attack. The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.


The Epee

The modern epee evolved from the small sword which was a popular sidearm in the 17th and 18th centuries. The epee has a three-sided blade which is generally heavier than the foil and sabre blades. The epee also has a bell shaped guard to protect the hand holding the weapon. In competitions a valid epee touch is scored if a fencer touches the opponent with enough force to depress the tip. In epee fencing, the opponent's entire body is a valid target area and there are no rules concerning priority or rights of way as in foil fencing. Epee fencing is the method of sport fencing that most closely resembles dueling.



The Saber

Saber fencing differs from foil and epee fencing because it is it is possible to score with the edge of the saber's blade. For this reason, saber movements and attacks are very fast. However, Saber fencing is similar to foil fencing because it uses the rules of priority, or rights of way, to determine who acquires the scoring touch. The cross-section of the saber blade is Y- or V-shaped, unlike the quadrangular shape of the foil, but not as stiff as the epee. The bell guard of the sword is curved around the handle, giving the fencer hand protection from cuts as well as thrusts. The target area for the saber consists of the torso above the waist, as well as the arms and head (excluding both hands).


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