SOME OF THE TERMS USED IN FENCING

ABSENCE OF BLADE
when swords are not in contact

ADVANCE
to step forward

AIDS
the last three fingers of the sword hand

ANALYSIS
the process of describing actions occurring in a fight, usually a phrase preceding a hit

ANGULATION
creating an angle between the weapon and the sword arm by flexing the wrist and pronating or supinating the sword hand

ANNULMENT OF HIT
a valid hit which is disallowed because of an infringement of the rules or a technical fault

APPEL
beating the ground with the ball of the foot, either as a ‘front foot’ or ‘rear foot’ appel

ASSAULT
friendly combat between two fencers

ATTACK
an initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the opponent’s target

AVOIDANCE
ducking or moving sideways to avoid being hit

BACK EDGE
The edge of a sabre blade opposite to that of the cutting edge

BALESTRA
a short, sharp jump forwards; usually used as a preparation.

BARRAGE
a fight-off to determine a result in the event of a tie

BEAT
crisp striking movement of the opponent’s blade creating a deflection, or obtaining a reaction; used as a preparation

BIB
a soft, padded attachment to the lower part of the mask to protect the neck and throat

BIND
taking of the foible of the opposing blade diagonally from high to low line, or vice versa

BLADE
the main component of a sword on which the hilt is mounted

BODY WIRE
wire worn under a fencer’s clothing to connect the sword terminal to the retractable spool cable, when using the electrical apparatus

BOUT
a fight for a specific number of hits

BREAKING GROUND
stepping back

BREECHES
white, knee-length trousers made of robust material; side fastening must be on the non-sword-arm side, and legs must have fastenings below the knees

BROKEN TIME
when a pause is introduced into an action which is normally performed in one movement

BRUTALITY
actions which are performed with an unacceptable level of force or violence which causes discomfort to the opponent

BUTTON
soft covering over a non-electric foil or epee point

CADENCE
the rhythm in which a sequence of movements is made

CEDING PARRY
a parry formed by giving way to an opponent who is taking the blade

CHANGE BEAT
a beat made after passing under or over the opponent’s blade

CHANGE OF ENGAGEMENT
re-engagement of the opponent’s blade on the opposite side by passing under or over it

CHEST PROTECTOR
shields the breast, sternum and ribs from strikes when fencing

CIRCULAR PARRY
deflection of the opponent’s attacking blade by making a circle with the sword point

CLOSE QUARTERS
when two fencers are close together but can still wield their weapons

COMPETITION
aggregate of individual bouts or team matches required to determine a winner

COMPOUND ACTIONS
two or more single actions performed together as one continuous action

COMPOUND ATTACK
an attack comprising one or more feints

COMPOUND PRISES DE FER
two or more consecutive takings of the blade, alike or different, with no loss of blade contact

COMPOUND RIPOSTE
riposte comprising one or more feints

CONVENTIONS
the rules governing the method of fencing for each weapon

COQUILLE
bell-shaped guard of a foil or epee

CORPS A CORPS
bodily contact between the fencers in a bout

COULE
the action of extending the sword arm and grazing lightly down the opponent’s blade, maintaining contact throughout

COUNTER-ATTACK
the offensive action made while avoiding, or closing the line against, an opponent’s attack

COUNTER-DISENGAGEMENT
an indirect action which deceives a change of engagement

COUNTER-OFFENSIVE ACTION
see counter attack

COUNTER-PARRY
see circular parry

COUNTER-RIPOSTE
a riposte following the successful parry of the opponent’s riposte or counter-riposte

COUNTER-TIIME
an action made by the attacker into a counter attack which is provoked by the opponent

COUPE
see cut-over

CROISE
the taking of the foible of the opposing blade from high to low line, and vice versa, on the same side as the engagement

CROSSE GRIP
a moulded grip with finger protrusions, used on foils and epees

CUT
a hit at sabre made by striking with the edge of the blade

CUT-OVER (COUPE)
an indirect action made by passing the blade over the opponent’s point

DEFENCE
not being hit by the opponent’s offensive actions, either by parrying, avoiding, or moving out of distance

DELAYED
actions made after a pause; usually attacks or ripostes

DEROBEMENT
evasion of the opponent’s attempt to beat or take the blade while the sword arm is straight and the point is threatening the target

DETACHMENT
when both blades break contact

DEVELOPMENT
extension of the sword arm accompanied by the lunge

DIAGONAL PARRY
deflecting the opponent’s attacking blade by moving from a high line guard to a low line guard on the opposite side and vice versa

DIRECT
actions made without passing the blade under or over the opponent’s blade

DIRECT ELIMINATION
method of competition organisation where winners are promoted to the following rounds and losers are eliminated after one fight

DISCIPLINARY CODE
by taking part in a fencing competition, fencers ‘pledge their honour’ to observe the rules for competitions and the decisions of judges and to be respectful towards the president and the members of the jury

DISENGAGEMENT
indirect action made by passing the blade under or over the opponent’s blade

DISPLACEMENT
turning or ducking to remove the target area from its normal position, resulting in the non-valid target being substituted for the valid target

DISQUALIFICATION
to be eliminated from a competition due to cheating or bad behaviour, or by default, e.g. late arrival

DOUBLE
a compound attack which deceives the opponent’s circular parry

DOUBLE ACTION
when both fencers choose exactly the same moment to make an offensive action

DOUBLE DEFEAT
in epee only; after the time has expired, if both competitors have received the same number of hits (or neither has scored a hit), they are counted as both having received the maximum number of hits being fought for, and a defeat is scored against each, except in direct elimination where the fight goes on without limitation of time until there is a result

DOUBLE HITS
in epee only, when both competitors register a hit on each other simultaneously, the difference of time between the two hits being less than 1/25 of a second

DOUBLE PRISE DE FER
A loss of contact between the first and second prise de fer

DRAW
seeding of fencers to determine the bouts in a competition

DURATION OF BOUT
actual fencing time allowed during a bout, ie a stop clock is started at the beginning of a bout, stopped each time the president halts the fencers and started again when the bout is restarted

EARTHING OF GUARD
guards of electric weapons must be earthed correctly so that weapon hits do not register on them

EARTHING OF PISTE
when using electrical equipment, metal pistes must be correctly earthed so that hits do not register on them

ELBOW GUARD
a pad worn on the fencer’s sword-arm elbow for protection

ELECTRICAL APPARATUS
an electric box with red and green lights to register valid hits at foil, epee and sabre and white lights to register non-valid hits at foil. The apparatus is mounted centrally, adjacent to the piste and connected by floor leads to spools with retractable cables placed at both ends of the piste, to which the fencers connect their body wires

ELECTRIC WEAPONS
foils, epees and sabres suitable for use with electrical apparatus

ENGAGEMENT
when both blades are in contact

ENVELOPMENT
the taking of the foible of the opponent’s blade by making a complete circle and maintaining continual contact throughout

FEINT
threatening movement of the blade made with the intention of provoking a parry or similar response

FENCING LINE
when fencers are fencing each other it should be possible to draw a theoretical straight line running through both leading feet and rear heels

FLANK
the side of the trunk of body on the sword-arm side

FLOOR JUDGES
two judges who watch for floor hits when electric epee is used without a metal piste

FOIBLE
the flexible half of the blade further away from the hilt

FORTE
the half of the blade nearer to the hilt

FROISSEMENT
deflecting the opponent’s blade by opposition of ‘forte to foible’ while blades are engaged

GUARD (OF WEAPON)
the part of the hilt to protect the sword hand

GUARDS
fencing positions – see prime, seconde, tierce, quarte, quinte, sixte, septime, octave

HIGH LINE
the position of the target above a theoretical horizontal line mid-way through a fencer’s trunk

HILT
the assembled parts of the sword excluding the blade, ie the guard, pad, grip and pommel

HIT
To strike the opponent with the point of the sword clearly and distinctly and with character of penetration. A cut with a sabre

INDICATORS
a system used in competition to determine a fencer’s seeding after the first rounds. The first indicator is expressed as a ratio of the number of victories and the number of fights and the second indicator is the number of hits scored minus the number of hits received

INDIRECT
an offensive action made by first passing the blade under or over the opponent’s blade

LINES
theoretical divisions of the target, corresponding to fencing guards

LOW LINES
position of the target below a theoretical horizontal line mid-way through a fencer’s trunk

LUNGE
a method of getting closer to an opponent with acceleration to make an attack and while maintaining balance and making it possible for a rapid recovery to On Guard

MANIPULATORS
the index finger and thumb of the sword hand

MARTINGALE
the loop of tape or leather attached to the grip and held to prevent a non-electric foil from flying out of the hand in the event of being disarmed

METALLIC PISTE
electrically-conductive material covering the piste in order that hits on the floor do not register on the electrical apparatus

OCTAVE
low line, semi-supinated guard on the sword-arm side

ON GUARD
the stance adopted in fencing

ONE-TWO ATTACK
a compound attack which deceives the opponent’s simple parry

‘OPEN EYES’
starting a movement with no prior knowledge of how it will finish, relying on reflexes to adjust and make the correct ending

OPPOSITION
blade movement maintaining constant contact with the opponent’s blade

ORTHOPAEDIC GRIP
general term for moulded grips of various designs used on foils and epees

PARRY
defensive action to deflect an opponent’s attack by opposing forte to opponent’s foible

PART-WHOLE
the teaching of a movement in parts, i.e. isolating the parts of the movement demanding most skill and practising them in isolation; then putting the parts together to make a whole movement

PATINANDO
a step forwards with an appel from the rear foot at the same time as the front foot lands

PHRASE
a sequence of fencing movements performed without a break

PISTE
the field of play on which a bout takes place

PLASTRON
a half-jacket with no underarm seam, worn for extra protection on the sword arm under the fencing jacket; also a padded over-jacket worn by a fencing coach when giving individual training

POMMEL
a metal cap screwed to the end of the blade which locks the parts of the weapon together and provides a counter-balance to the blade

POOL (POULE)
the grouping of fencers or teams in a competition

PREPARATION OF ATTACK
the movement of blade or foot to obtain the best position from which to make an attack

PRIME
high line, pronated guard on the non-sword-arm side

PRINCIPLE OF DEFENCE
the execution of a parry by the defender’s forte opposing the attacking foible, i.e. ‘opposition of forte to foible’

PRIORITY
the right of way gained by the fencer at foil and sabre by extending the sword arm and continually threatening the opponent’s target

PRISES DE FER (TAKINGS OF THE BLADE)
see bind, croise, envelopment

PROGRESSIVE ACTIONS
actions made with the sword point continually moving towards the opponent’s target

PRONATION
the position of the sword hand with the knuckles uppermost

QUARTE
high line, semi-supinated guard on the non-sword-arm side

QUINTE
low line, pronated guard on the non-sword-arm side at foil and epee; and a high guard at sabre to protect the head

RASSEMBLEMENT
the bringing of both feet together, either forwards or backwards, so that the heels are touching with the feet at right angles and the body in an upright position

RECOVERY
the return to the On guard position

REDOUBLEMENT
the renewal of an action after being parried by replacing the point on the target in a different line to the original action

REMISE
the renewal of an action after being parried by replacing the point on the target in the line of the original action

REPECHAGE
the competition formula which gives losers of a direct elimination bout a second chance to stay in the competition

REPRISE
the renewal of an action made with a lunge by first returning to guard forwards or backwards

RIPOSTE
an offensive action following a successful parry of an attack

SECONDE
low line, pronated guard on the sword-arm side

SEPTIME
low line, semi-supinated guard on the non-sword-arm side

SIXTE
high line, semi-supinated guard on the sword-arm side

SUCCESSIVE PARRIES
Two or more consecutive parries made to defend against compound attacks

SUPINATION
the position of the sword hand with the finger-nail uppermost

TANG
the part of the blade on which the hilt is mounted

TIERCE
high line, pronated guard on the sword-arm side

JOIN TODAY

Free Intro Membership

Activate your free, 90 day membership to British Fencing today. Membership insures you to fence at any British Fencing club.

CORE COACH

Core Coach Offer

Does your organisation want to bring fencing to your community? Explore our core coach course, no experience required.

LEARN MORE

Calling All Teachers

Start your journey to becoming a community fencing coach. Introduce fencing to pupils for as little as £20. Find out more today.

Join the conversation. Share your stories using #BritishFencing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Our Partners

  • Our Partners