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Fencing is not as complicated as you may think – it’s no more technical or tactical than other sports like tennis or golf.  And like those sports, you can lose yourself in the technical elements of fencing. If you are interested in fencing, this page aims to tell you about the basics. Whether you are a spectator or want to put on a mask and hold a sword yourself, here’s what you need to know.

Fast Answers
Why start fencing? It’s a great way to give your mind and body a workout (and best of all you get to hit people with swords!)
Who is it for? Everyone. Fencing is a sport for all ages. All you need is enthusiasm.
Is it all very competitive? There are all kinds of clubs and fencing experiences out there – fun one-off activities with plastic kit, social club environments which cater for a range of different ages and abilities, right up to the competitive performance clubs.
Is there a cheap option? Look for your local club as many will let you hire or borrow the equipment needed.
What equipment do I need? What should I wear? Most clubs will let you borrow fencing equipment when you first start. For your first sessions you should wear long tracksuit trousers, indoor trainers, and a t-shirt. Check with the club as if you are starting with plastic kit you will want to wear a long sleeved t-shirt.
What if I want a proper workout? Fencing is unique in its need for mental and physical dedication – an intense match or training can burn 400 calories per hour. (So bring a change of t-shirt!)
Can I take it to another level? With plenty of competitions across the UK there are numerous opportunities to compete and reach the top in a sport that has a rich history- all the way to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Is there a disability option? Many people participate in fencing with disabilities and there is also the option to participate in Wheelchair Fencing at club and also at competition (right up to the Paralympics)
Is there a family option? Most fencing clubs offer a variety of memberships and tuition for beginners of all ages.
So where can I start? Contact your local club.


The Swords

Foil: a light, thrusting weapon, originally used for training soldiers to fight in battle. The target is limited to the trunk of the body, including the back but not the arms or head.

Epee: a heavier, thrusting weapon, originally used for duelling. Hits can be scored anywhere on the body. One-hit epee is one of the five disciplines of Modern Pentathlon.

Sabre: a cutting and thrusting weapon, originally used by cavalry soldiers. The target area is limited to everything above the hips, except for the hands and the back of the head


For the Olympic Channel Quick Guide to fencing click here.

BF and our family of partners look forward to sharing your fencing journey with you! Join BF to gain insurance and members benefits including the Sword Magazine, all about fencing. Membership is free for the first 90 days.


More Information

What is a bib? breeches? balestra? See our glossary on common terms here.

Acronyms – every sport is full of acronyms, fencing is no different! For a list of common acronyms click here.



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