The Uhlmann fencing mask that was pierced in November 2009
This fencing mask failed in Odense and all Visor masks are now forbidden in FIE foil and epee competitions.

UPDATE (11:40pm): The USFA has banned the use of the visor mask in foil and epee, effective immediately.

Following the receipt of lab results from the FIE Visor foil mask which was pierced at the 2009 European Junior Championships in Odense (November 2009), the FIE issued an urgent letter stating:

Therefore, the Executive Committee has decided to suspend and
forbid, until further notice, the use of the transparent visor mask
both in foil and epee, at all FIE official competitions.

It was found that the failed mask did not adhere to all of the manufacturing recommendations of the FIE. Full text of the letter can be found on the FIE site.

According to the testing report released by the FIE (link), the Uhlmann mask that failed for several reasons. One disturbing line in the report noted that the visor material was labeled as LEXAN but, according to testing, was not true LEXAN material.

A remarkable outcome of this evaluation was that material used is
not Sabic Innovative Plastic polycarbonate with brandname
LEXAN. The visor was manufactured by means of an injection
moulding process stead drapeforming. Material used was an
uncoated polycarbonate.

In response to the report, Leon Paul release the following statement:

This weekend following the receipt of a technical report regarding the failure of a Uhlmann transparent mask at the 2009 Junior European Championships the F.I.E. have temporarily suspended their use at its competitions for foil and epee. Leon Paul have reviewed all the technical evidence and the reports from the independent technical advisor who tested the mask that failed and two other independent experts. All of this confirms our continued belief that a mask that is made according to the FIE rules that incorporates in its design all of the features that are suggested in the FIE rules is perfectly safe provided it is used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

It is essential that the mask is:

Made with a visor made from Lexan not a generic polycarbonate.
Made with a drape formed rather than injection molded visor.
Made in such a way that the visor when inserted is not stressed or bent out of its natural shape and or the fixing mechanism cannot be over tightened. .
Made in such a way that there are no sharp edges in contact with the main visor.
Made with a coated visor to help protect it.

Immediately following the original incident, German equipment manufacturer FWF noted that it refuses to manufacture a visor mask due to their concerns over the safety of the product.

It is uncertain whether the use of the “Visor” masks will be allowed at the 2010 Junior Olympics, to be held this weekend (Feb 12th – 15th) in Memphis, TN.



  • Orly Guerrero, June 20, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    In the Asian Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships last March held in Metro Manila, Celso Dayrit, the person running the Philippine Fencing Association(PFA), president of the Asian Fencing Confederation and board member of the FIE pushed for the conductive bib. Two weeks before the University Athletic Association of the Philippines(UAAP) one local coach complained that his 4 fencers who would compete in the Asian Championships did not have the FIE masks with the conductive bib. Mr. Dayrit asked the president of the PFA, Victor Africa(also an FIE official), to issue a new ruling that in the UAAP competitions only FIE masks would be allowed, because of safety. Maybe the universities would bite and the 4 fencers would get their foil masks with the new bib. As a foil coach of the University of the Philippines(UP), I protested and told them that if they imposed the FIE masks I would have to pull out my foil teams. The UP didn’t have the funds for this. I didn’t realize that if it was for safety all weapons would have to use FIE masks. Fortunately this was turned down by the universities, but Mr. Dayrit, to perhaps impress the FIE, imposed a new ruling that would require the use of Chinese masks but with the new bib for foil. I again complained and said that cheaper masks were still not affordable because there were no funds available. I would still have to pull out my foil teams. Mr. Dayrit said this was not his problem and that he was definitely imposing the use of the new foil masks. Out of desperation I went to my superiors in the UP and explained the situation my teams found themselves in. They told me to write a letter explaining my problem and that it would be taken up in the UAAP Board meeting. Straight away, the UAAP turned down the use the FIE masks or the Chinese foil masks with the new bib. They said that out of fairness they would not agree to any new ruling that would put even one member of the UAAP at a disadvantage. In retaliation the PFA president asked the PFA board to impose sanctions on me for not supporting their plans. They suspended me as a senior member of the PFA for 6 months, Banned me from even stepping into the national fencing hall and removed me as a national coach from which I earn most of my salary. So you see there are some people who, maybe to impress the FIE, will even try to FORCE on a university league the foil masks with the new bib. The masks with the new bib were also turned down in the Asian Championships because many countries protested. Despite the fact that the UAAP is not under the PFA, Mr. Dayrit and Mr. Africa tried to push this FIE ruling where it was definitely not required. I have bveen a member of the PFA since the 60’s and a national coach since 1991. If anyone wants more information regarding my battle with the PFA because of the new bib you can text me at [email protected].

  • nycbikecommuter, June 29, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    I understand the importance of using FIE masks (and by default the entire fencing gear) for safety, and any fencer – if possible – should use FIE equipment even for local or domestic competitions. However, the imposition of using FIE equipment is subjective as some clubs in Australia, for instance, disallow 350N equipment even for club competitions. Having said that, 350N – primarily for affordability – has been acceptable for local and domestic competitions in the US, and to be perfectly honest, a good number of US-based fencers compete in a higher level. The recent competition I attended has a Pan-Am champion epeeist fencing against opponents in 350N equipment.

    I think the individuals heading the PFA are depriving a number of qualified and motivated fencers from competing by enforcing the FIE-only ruling. It further reinforces the image of fencing as an elitist sport (which is it is to some degree due to the expense incurred by any serious fencer), but unless there is an organization in the Philippines similar to the Peter Westbrook Foundation, fencing in the Philippines is an inaccessible sport. As for gear, FIE is definitely preferred but absolutely unnecessary for a domestic competition such as the UAAP. However, I would support an FIE plastron in case a blade breaks which is good for foil and sabre but not for epee when the lower body is also a valid target.

    Is it proper to assume that Mr. Dayrit and Mr. Africa have been heading the PFA for decades? Shouldn’t new blood be introduced? And are there attempts to introduce fencing to a demographic that normally does not have access to the sport? Are there PWF-like organizations in the country? I heard of Ezkrima but they teach only sabre (there is more to fencing than sabre) and some videos I’ve seen had students fencing in flip flops.

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