BRIEF OVERVIEW OF FENCING
Fencing in the U.S. is overseen nationally by the U.S. Fencing Association They are out in Colorado Springs, CO. Also, a part of the governing body of USA Fencing are the regional divisions, such as Indiana Division here in Indiana. The international governing body is the F.I.E. (Federation Internationale Escrime). Escrime is the French word for fencing.
Fencing is an Olympic sport, and one that gets scholarships at such Colleges and Universities as Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Tufts, Wellesley, Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Brown, Rutgers, Princeton, Case Western Reserve, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Stanford, and UC San Diego. There are also many colleges and universities, such as Ball State, Purdue University or Indiana University offer club programs. It is very big in Europe. Around here, we have over 15 clubs throughout the state that offer substantial fencing programs - including lessons, private coaching, competition options, and much more..
Modern fencing consists of 3 weapons: Foil, Epée, and Saber. Epée is pronounced as either ‘a-pay’ or ‘ep- ay’. Like many terms, it is French. Fencing is very much an international sport.
The foil is a light thrusting weapon with a maximum weight of 500 grams. The foil targets the torso, but not the arms or legs. The foil has a small circular hand guard that serves to protect the hand from direct stabs. As the hand is not a valid target in foil, this is primarily for safety. Touches are scored only with the tip; hits with the side of the blade do not register on the electronic scoring apparatus (and do not halt the action). Touches that land outside the target area (called an off-target touch and signaled by a distinct color on the scoring apparatus) stop the action, but are not scored. Only a single touch can be awarded to either fencer at the end of a phrase. If both fencers land touches within a close enough interval of milliseconds to register two lights on the machine, the referee uses the rules of "right of way" to determine which fencer is awarded the touch, or if an off-target hit has priority over a valid hit, in which case no touch is awarded. If the referee is unable to determine which fencer has right of way, no touch is awarded.
The épée is a thrusting weapon like the foil, but heavier, with a maximum total weight of 775 grams. In épée, the entire body is valid target. The hand guard on the épée is a large circle that extends towards the pommel, effectively covering the hand, which is a valid target in épée. Like foil, all hits must be with the tip and not the sides of the blade. Hits with the side of the blade do not register on the electronic scoring apparatus (and do not halt the action). As the entire body is legal target, there is no concept of an off-target touch, except if the fencer accidentally strikes the floor, setting off the light and tone on the scoring apparatus. Unlike foil and sabre, épée does not use "right of way", and awards simultaneous touches to both fencers. However, if the score is tied in a match at the last point and a double touch is scored, the point is null and void.
The sabre is a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, except the weapon hand. Saber is the newest weapon to be used. Like the foil, the maximum legal weight of a sabre is 500 grams. The hand guard on the sabre extends from hilt to the point at which the blade connects to the pommel. This guard is generally turned outwards during sport to protect the sword arm from touches. Hits with the entire blade or point are valid. As in foil, touches that land outside the target area are not scored. However, unlike foil, these off-target touches do not stop the action, and the fencing continues. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of "right of way".
Individual fencing ‘fights’ are called ‘bouts’. They are conducted on a ‘strip’ about 40’ x 6’. Most all Tournaments are scored with the aid of electrical equipment to detect the contact. Fencers need 2 sets of Foils and Lames to compete in such tournaments. ‘Dry’ is the term used when not using electrical equipment. But no one describes ‘with electric’ as ‘Wet’. Go figure…
The main object of a fencing bout is to score 15 points (in direct elimination play) or five points (in preliminary pool play) on your opponent before s/he scores that number on you. Each time a fencer scores a touch, s/he receives a point. Direct elimination matches consist of three, three-minute periods.
FOLLOW THE SPORT
There are many ways you can follow the sport, in addition or alternatively to actually fencing yourself.
You can visit a local club and watch. You can attend a tournament - locations and additional details can be found on askfred.net. Or you can check out the latest action from the strip, by visiting USA Fencing's website - www.usafencing.org; as well as, Indiana Division's website or its facebook page.