What is fencing?

Fencing is the art or science of swordplay. It has been practised in various forms in training for warfare and duelling for thousands of years. Most people will be familiar with it in these guises through its depiction in films. With the ascendency of the gun making it obsolete for war, and latterly since the demise of duelling as a method of solving personal disputes, fencing has become a purely sporting activity and the weapons have evolved to suit this. Fencing is one of the original Olympic sports and although the main aim is to score points by hitting the opponent the target and rules for the three weapons are slightly different to reflect their original use.

The Weapons

Today we use three descended from the lethal weapons of the past but heavily modified for electric scoring in the modern sport. These are:

Click on the name of a weapon to find out more about its origins, characteristics, rules and target area.

The Piste (or Field of Play)

For want of a better description this is the "playing area" used in fencing. We fence for distance as well as hits in the modern sport and can score a point by driving the opponent off his end of the piste. So being able to move along the piste and get at the right distance improves the chance of your hits landing. Some people say "that fencing is 20% hand and 80% feet"!. Graphic of the piste extracted from the Rules.

FIE Rules of Fencing

Click on the icon above to download the Federation Internationale d'Escrime Rules in English.