Welcome to Fencing.net! If you’re new to the sport or are interested in learning to fence, this is a great place for you to start. We’ve collected information from across the internet, high quality informative articles, and answers to common questions all in one spot to help beginners wade into fencing, the sport and Olympic event!
Maybe you saw fencing on television at the last Olympics. Or you loved The Princess Bride as a kid. Either way, fencing is a sport people of all ages and abilities can enjoy.
What is sport fencing?
Fencing (also known as sport or Olympic fencing) is a sport in which two people use modern variations of swords to score points by hitting their opponent on valid target area. The “sport” or “Olympic” qualifier is typically added to distinguish the modern sport from other forms of historical re-enactment activities. Fencers make use of electronic scoring devices to register touches, while referees administer the rules and arbitrate the flow of the match. There are three events inside the sport, each with a different set of rules: foil, epee, and saber.
The Best of Fencing.net
The following is a short list of resources and content from Fencing.net to help you out on your journey into the sport.
- Interesting in learning to fence? Check out our quick guide on the topic. It is complimentary to this article, providing a bit more detail on how specifically to get started.
- Use the Fencing Club Locator to find a local fencing club near you!
- The Fencing Coach’s Guide to Finding the Right Club
- Fencing: Safer than Badmitton!
- The Fencing Equipment Buyer’s Guide
- Training for Fencing
- How to get on an NCAA Fencing Team
- Weight Training for the Competitive Fencer
- The Comprehensive Guide to Fencing Shoes
- Preventing and Treating Fencing Knee and Elbow Injuries
- A Comprehensive Guide to Fencing Masks
- How to Adjust Your Fencing Mask
- How to Clean Your Fencing Mask
- How to Clean Your Fencing Uniform
- A Primer on Fencing Rules and Refereeing
Frequently Asked Questions about Fencing
How do I get started with sport fencing?
Your absolute best bet is to find a club in your area. Fencing isn’t as widespread as other sports, so this might require a bit of a commute. However, its fairly rare for there to be no reasonable options. Our fencing club locator tool is a great place to begin your search. The moderators on the /r/fencing subreddit are also known to help people find local options upon request. All clubs will have some form of beginner program. They’ll usually offer equipment for you to rent or borrow, or otherwise instruct you on your options.
Its our general suggestion that you seek out a club to learn from instead of teaching yourself through books or videos. Its safer and a generally better education. Fencing is a sport that requires other people to fence with. You won’t get that anywhere else except at a fencing club.
Am I too short/tall/heavy/thin/old/young/etc.?
No. Fencing is a sport accessible by everyone. Some physical attributes will help you out when you’re a beginner and everyone is still learning. But over time, your strengths and weaknesses will smooth out into a game of strategy vs strategy. With respect to age, fencing events have age brackets to ensure fairness. Fencing events also have a few skill brackets in order to give everyone an opportunity to stand on the podium. Don’t let this fool you, though – winning a national event is still quite difficult.
The only thing to keep in mind is that fencing is a sport. You don’t need to be physically fit to start, but if you have plans of excelling in competition, you’ll certainly have to raise your level of physical fitness.
What if I have a physical disability or medical concern?
Depends on the disability. Consult your physician first before taking up the sport. But fencing has a vibrant wheelchair competition scene, and even the able-bodied competitions are accessible to people with various issues. Fencing is featured in the Paralympic Games.
What are the different weapons in sport fencing? What are the differences between the weapons?
Epee is the easiest weapon to describe. It is a point weapon, which means touches are scored by depressing a button at the tip of the weapon. Your entire body is target area. And the first person to score a touch gets the point. If both people hit at the same time, both people get a touch.
Foil is also a point weapon. Only the torso is valid target in foil. And foil is a conventional weapon, which means that if both fencers hit their opponents, the referee has to use a set of conventional rules to decide who, if anyone, scored a touch. Collectively, these conventions are called “Right of Way”.
Saber is an edge weapon, which means that you can hit your opponent with the full length of the blade and score a valid touch. The valid target area is everything above the waist. And saber is also a conventional weapon.
Which weapon should I learn to fence?
The answer to this question depends heavily upon what your local fencing club options are. Some clubs specialize in particular weapons. Some prefer to start their new fencers with a particular weapon. Your best bet here will be to simply join your local beginner class where your coach will help guide you through the process. For the most part, if you stick with fencing long term, you’ll be exposed to all options and you’ll figure out over time which one you like the best.
What is “Right of Way”?
The basic premise behind “Right of Way” is that if you are being attacked, you must deal with that attack before launching an attack yourself. This originates from dueling practices where if both people just stab each other, you don’t really have a winner of that duel. So, if there are two lights on the scoring apparatus, the referee will decide who had Right of Way, whose touch had scoring priority, and therefore who scored a point (if applicable).
Is there anything I can do by myself to practice or improve?
If you’re reading this guide you are probably a beginner. The best thing you can do is to find and take a beginner’s class. If you’d like to do some work at home to improve your fencing, the best thing you can do is to simply get more physically fit. Jog, work out, etc.. Create a basic workout routine and stick to it. Fencing is a sport, so improving your physical fitness will also improve your fencing.
Other Great Fencing Resources Online
- The FIE – the international governing body for the sport.
- USA Fencing – the national governing body for the sport inside the US.
- Better Fencer – a resource run by Olympian Jason Rogers on various topics related to improving your fencing.
- AskFRED – the best place online to find local tournaments, camps and clinics.
- FIE Video – the official YouTube channel of the FIE. Tons of great video here.