All three weapons have been modified for electronic scoring. There are two light
towers at opposite ends of the strip. When the point of the weapon is depressed,
a light flashes on the sidelines signaling the touch. A flashing red or green
light indicates a point or blade has landed in a valid target area on the
fencer nearer that tower. The official, known as the director, must confirm
the touch before it counts.
In a fencing bout, the objective is to touch
your opponent with your sword. Each touch is
worth one point, and the fencer who reaches
15 points first wins the bout. For a team bout,
the goal is to score 45 points before the other
The fencers battle on a "strip," or piste, which is a mat 14 meters
long and 2 meters wide. If the fencer crosses the rear boundary with both feet,
the opponent is awarded a penalty touch. If he should step off the side of
the strip, the other fencer is allowed to advance 1 meter toward the opponent's
end of the strip.
To start the match, both
opponents take the en garde (on guard) position.
This stance is assumed with the rear arm crooked
upward, and the sword arm partially extended
toward the opponent. The basic attacking action
is the lunge, executed by thrusting the sword
arm at the target and kicking forward on the
front leg. The attack is successful if a touch
is scored on the valid target area. In foil
fencing, only touches on the torso are counted.
In épée, the entire body, head
to foot, is a valid target. In sabre, the valid
target is from the bend of the hips to the
top of the head. A movement of the blade designed
to block an attack is called a parry.
At the Olympics, the individual
competition is a direct elimination format.
Bouts are in three periods of three-minutes
each. If neither fencer reaches 15 touches
(or hits) by the end of the third section,
or round, the fencer with the most touches
is the winner. In the case of a tie at the
end of a regulation bout, there is one minute
of extra fencing time added. The fencer scoring
the first touch is the winner.
and Fast Facts
- You don't have to be face-to-face with
a foil to get an action-packed view of the
sport. Check out the Athens
- The International
Olympic Committee has information about
the equipment and terminology of
the sport, as well as facts about fencing's past.
- Point your mouse to the USOC fencing
page for a summary of fencing history, a
rulebook, an equipment guide, and a simple glossary.
- FIE is
the International Fencing organization.
- Get more to the point about fencing at U.S.
- Fencing.net takes
you in-depth with the sport.
General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this summer. Even though Gateway
to the Summer Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and
every one by visiting the sites listed below.