What is fencing?
Fencing is the historic art of offense and defense with the sword, in which the object is for one fencer to hit another without being hit first. The deadly martial art of swordsmanship developed into the sport of fencing, in which the objective became the touch and not the kill. Today much of the excitement and challenge of serious dueling remain as the fencer attempts to protect himself from his opponent’s blade while at the same time trying to find an opening in his opponent’s defense.
Modern fencing is a safe sport due to the protective clothing and flexible, blunted blade, which are always used while sparring or competing. The objective of fencing is no longer to inflict a serious or fatal injury, but to demonstrate an ability to outmaneuver and out think an opponent to get the touch. Fencing is now much faster and requires more refinement of technique than was possible with the heavier, longer, stiffer weapons used by the earlier duelist. The rules and manner of fencing reflect its original purpose, even though techniques and tactics have undergone many changes through the years.
The 3 Weapons
There are three weapons used in modern fencing: foil, sabre, and épée.
In all three weapons, mastery of technique is a prerequisite to playing the game. Both offensive and defensive moves must be practiced and mastered before one is able to play the game at the tactical level. Once the basic movements are mastered, the game becomes more and more tactical as the fencer’s skill level advances. At the highest levels, fencing is often referred to as physical chess. Both opponents have mastered the technical aspects of the game, and those skills are employed to lead one’s opponent into making a tactical error that one can score on. This would be much easier if the other guy weren’t trying to do the same thing to you! At the highest level, both fencers are setting traps within traps.