The objective of fencing is to strike your opponent while avoiding being hit yourself. The fastest sword strikes in a flash of a blade.
Two competitors, each holding a sword in one hand, face each other to strike their opponent on a valid target area of the body. There are three different events: foil, epee, and sabre. Weapons, target area, and priority rules are different among those events. A conductive panel known as a ‘piste’ is laid as the competing area.
Fencing has featured in every modern Olympic Games since 1896, known as the Games of the I Olympiad, starting with the men's foil individual and the men's sabre individual. The women's foil individual was added at the Paris 1924 Games, the women's epee individual was added at the Atlanta 1996 Games, and the women's sabre individual was added at the Athens 2004 Games. In the Tokyo 2020 Games, all 12 events (foil/epee/sabre, women/men, individual/team) will finally line up to be organised.
- Individual Foil (Men/Women)
- Individual Epée (Men/Women)
- Individual Sabre (Men/Women)
- Team Foil(Men/Women)
- Team Epée (Men/Women)
- Team Sabre(Men/Women)
Individual tournaments are contested over three sets of three-minute round, with the winner being either the first to 15 points or whoever has the most points after the three rounds.
Team tournaments involve three members (and one reserve member) competing in a round-robin format. A total of nine sets of three-minute rounds are held, with the team scoring 45 points or having the highest score after nine bouts declared the winner.
Tactical Exchange, Fast-changing battles, and Splendid Swordplay
Fencing's appeal lies in the tactical exchange of two athletes with precise movements and fast-changing battles. The athletes' splendid swordplay in close distance will be the highlight. Dynamic battles of fencers focused in the darkened atmosphere fulfil the venue with intensity. .
One of the main differences of foil, epee, and sabre is the target area. The valid target for foil is the torso including the back, the valid target of epee is the whole body, and the valid target of sabre is the torso including the head and both arms. For judging, electric scoring machines are used. When targeted areas are hit, red and/or green lamps are lit.
For the foil and sabre, there is a rule called the validity or the priority of the hit'. One of the ways to get a validity or priority will be to straighten the arm, threaten the valid target with point of the blade, and initiate action of the lunge or the flèche If the other fencer dodges or parries in defence, they gain "the validity or the priority of the hit"and will often launch an immediate counterattack.
While foil and sabre has this rule making them attractive to see the scramble, epee does not have this rule and instead attracts spectators with elegant simplicity. A point is awarded any time any where when a point of the blade hits the opponent. If both fencers hit at the same time, they are both awarded points. Since the whole body is a valid target, matches show a variety of actions as fencers target unexpected parts of their opponent's body right down to their toes.
In addition, while hits are made by thrusting the blades in foil and epee, hits made with the cutting edge, the flat or the back of the blade are counted as good in sabre. The attractiveness of sabre is enhanced with dynamic cutting actions while the attractiveness of foil and epee are represented with precise movements.
Tradition and Innovation
Fencing originated and developed in Europe and many terms used in the sport are French, such as en garde (ready) and allez (begin). The number of fencers are huge in Europe, and decades of tradition and practice have accumulated in Italy and France. These two countries are followed by other European powerhouses such as Hungary and Russia that constantly produce outstanding fencers in fencing history.
However, USA is consistently making records in the Olympic Games and the World Championships. The Rio 2016 Games in fact created a momentum to boost the fencers in the Americas. Athletes from Asia and Oceania are also becoming a force and ranking in the upper positions at world level competitions, following Europe in the number of affiliated countries.
Some of the African countries have emerged in international competitions, and the sport itself is now at an important stage to change the image from an European-oriented sport to a universal sport.
There are tall athletes who win from a long distance, while there are athletes who use speed and timing as their strong technique. There are fencers who win with traditional fencing style while there are fencers who newly produce an innovative fencing style.
The Tokyo 2020 Games will no doubt showcase the new fencing stage with attractive and unique fencers.
As of 1 Dec. 2018
- Makuhari Messe Hall B