Fencing is one of just four sports to have featured at every modern Olympic Games.

Did you know?

After the Paris 1924 Games, the Italian and Hungarian teams settled a scoring controversy with a real-life duel.
French has been the language of fencing since 1570 when Henri Saint-Didier, a pioneer of the sport, came up with most of the terms for the moves that fencers still use today.
Originally, there was no time limit for a fencing contest. This was changed after one match lasted seven hours in the 1930s.
The fencing ‘piste’ is designed to look like a castle hallway – the setting for many real sword fights in medieval times.

Key facts

Venue: ExCeL
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 5 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 10
Athletes: 212

Fencing: a history of the sport

Fencing has its roots in ancient sword fighting. As a sport, it began in the 17th century when the ‘foil’ – a sword with a flattened tip  – was invented as a practice weapon to help duellers prepare for their deadly contests. A set of rules was soon developed, followed by wire-mesh face masks, which made it a safe activity.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Fencing at the Games

Fencing was the first Olympic sport to include professionals in medal competition, after Games founder Pierre de Coubertin arranged special ‘masters’ events in Athens 1896 and Paris 1900.

Women’s Fencing first appeared at the Paris 1924 Games, while women’s Epée was added to the programme in Atlanta 1996. Sabre is the newest addition – it joined in Athens 2004.

How to play – and win

A Fencing bout lasts for three three-minute rounds. It takes place on a ‘piste’ – a narrow strip that is 14 metres in length. There are three types of weapon used – foil, epée and sabre – with a separate competition for each.

Fencers score points by touching their opponent’s body with the tip of their sword, or often with the edge of the blade in sabre. Each competitor is wired up to a system that records when they’ve been hit.

In team events, three fencers face each member of the other team. The bout is decided by the combined total of hits at the end.

Jargon buster

  • En garde: French for ‘on guard’ – the position that fencers take before a bout begins.
  • Bout: A Fencing match
  • Fleche: A running attack
  • Lunge: The basic attack in Fencing where a fencer moves his front leg forward while keeping his back leg still.
  • Parry: A defensive action used to block an opponent’s blade

Get involved

Fencing is great way to improve your balance and coordination – useful skills for any sport. If you’re interested in taking part, you can get started at a local club. Visit British Fencing and the International Fencing Federation for more informaiton.

Li Guojie of China jumps up for a touch against Radoslaw Zawrotniak of Poland at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

~ by superbowlnyc on February 17, 2011.

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