Fencing is a versatile sport where body and mind are used intensively. Speed, reflexes and tactics are more important than strength and endurance. It is a graceful sport where your are physically and mentally challenging yourself and your opponent. In fencing no physical contact is allowed. It is an exciting and fun sport for all ages and can be practiced by young and old. Because you are wearing proctective gear, a vest, a mask, breeches and a glove, the sport is relatively harmless.
Fencing is divided into three weapon categories: foil, épée and sabre. Each weapon is different and is handled differently, which means each weapon has its own rules and fencing style. Foil and sabre are conventional weapons, which means that in a match you are required to have 'the right of way' to make a valid hit.
Starting with épée in 1936 the hits are scored with an electrical apparatus. An audible tone will be heared and a red or green light can be seen to indicate when a touch has landed.
Foil is a thrusting weapon that targets the torso, but not the arms or legs. Touches are scored only with the tip. Touches that land outside of the target area (called an off-target touch) stop the action, but are not scored. Only a single touch can be scored by either fencer at one time. If both fencers land valid touches at the same time, the referee uses the rules of "right of way" to determine which fencer gets the point. If both fencers begin their attack at the same time, or the referee is unable to determine who was first, neither fencer scores a point. Foil is the lightest of the three weapons.
The sabre is a cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. The hand guard on the saber extends from pommel to the base of where the blade connects to the hilt. Hits with the edges of the blade or the point are valid. As in foil, touches that land outside of the target area are not scored. However, unlike foil, these off-target touches do not stop the action, and the fencing continues. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of "right of way".
Épée is a thrusting weapon like the foil. In épée, the entire body is valid target. The hand guard on the épée is a large circle that extends towards the pommel, effectively covering the hand, which is a valid target in épée. Like foil, all hits must be with the tip and not the sides of the blade. Hits with the side of the blade do not halt the action. As the entire body is legal target, there is not the concept of an off-target touch, except if the fencer accidentally strikes the floor, setting off the electric tone. Unlike foil and sabre, épée does not use "right of way", and allows simultaneous hits by both fencers. However, if the score is tied in a match at the last point and a double touch is scored, nobody is awarded the point. Épée is the heaviest of the three weapons.