The roots of modern fencing sports can be traced to the historical traditions of swordsmanship was considered to be a great martial art and provided a high social status to the warrior. But the modern fencing is a friendly competitive duel and not meant for fighting battles as was the case in old days.
It is now a sport involving the skillful use of swords for attack or defense according to the set rules and regulations. In France, it is called Escrime and in Italy Schoma. It has a long and fascinating history, and its roots can be traced to the traditions of chivalry. The sport has been a permanent feature of every Olympic Games ever since their revival in Athens in 1896. Today it is increasingly practiced throughout the world.
Fencing is divided into three major branches depending upon the weapons employed. The three different types of weapons used are foils, sabers, and epees. The fencer scores point by touching the opponent’s target area with the sword point and loses when touched the same way by the opponent.
Some of the main advantages of this sport are that it provides concentrated physical exercise in a short duration of time, independent of weather and without much expenditure. Fencing develops a coordination of mind and body. It is a game of skill, speed, and finesse in which brute strength doesn’t have much role to play. This game is suitable for both men and women. It is a complex and difficult art to master.
The fencing sports equipment is relatively inexpensive. This requires a fencing jacket, a mask, a glove, a foil or any other such weapon with trousers or fencing breeches, white stockings, and rubber-sole gym shoes or flat sole fencing shoes.
The fencer’s weapon consists of a blade and mounting. The stronger half of the blade, which is nearer to the guard, is called the forte and the remainder, the foible. The mounting consists of a guard, the form of which varies according to the weapon and within which there is often a small cushion to protect the fingers. It has a handle or grip with which the weapon is held and manipulated.
Modern Fencing Sports:
The modern art of fencing is practiced with three weapons: foil, epee, and sabre. The foil is just over one meter long (1.1 meters) and weighs up to 500 grams. Its blade is rectangular, tapering, and flexible. And it has a blunt point called the button. Epee is of the same length as the foil but heavier up to 700 grams. Its blade is triangular and rigid. Sabre is of the same weight as the foil but a little shorter (.05 meters). The blade is V-shaped and narrow, rigid at the cutting edges but flexible on the flat edge.
The foil is the basic weapon with which the art of fencing is learned. However, later the fencer may prefer epee or saber. This is because the foil is the most easily manipulable weapon among the three and enables the fencer to carry out all fencing movements with it.
The target area on which a hit is valid varies with the weapon. In case of foil, it is restricted to the opponent’s trunk, back, and front excluding the head, arms, and legs. The hit must be made with the point of the foil only and is valid only if they land on the target.
Foil is held and manipulated with the fingers only. Epee is also manipulated with the fingers like foil. Sabre is held somewhat differently than the other two weapons, but it is similarly manipulated by finger play. The blade is directed by the thumb and the first finger, but these movements are assisted by the little finger.
A bout between men at foil, epee or sabre is fenced for five hits (best of nine hits). However, in case of women foil, a bout is for four hits. The time limit for a bout is six minutes of actual fencing time for men and five minutes for women.
Judging a fencing competition requires a great experience because of the complexity and speed of movements and constant mobility of the competitors. The foil and epee competitions are judged by an electrical judging apparatus that registers the time of the hit. No electrical apparatus is used for judging sabre. This calls for two pairs of judges to judge the game. The hits are awarded according to the rules and conventions applicable to sabre fencing.
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