Since ancient times, the sport of fencing has been part of many different cultures. According to “A Brief History of Fencing,” fencing has evolved from dueling combat among civilians using it for self-defense, to a competitive sport. Though there have been a variety of styles and weaponry used throughout the ages, modern fencing utilizes basic tools and equipment essential to the sport.
Fencing requires specific equipment and clothing to ensure safety for the participant as well as comfort and ability to move freely. According to ntlworld.com, basic fencing equipment includes:
—Wire mesh mask for facial protection
—The jacket with lining to provide double thickness in the sleeve and the flank area up to the armpit
—The plastron which is worn under the jacket to cover and protect the upper body
—The breeches which are worn to protect the legs. They are fastened below the knees, similar to shin guards
—The glove which is padded and long enough to protect the hand, wrist and half the forearm
—The foil, saber or epee; practice weapons with a blunt point. The point can be covered with a plastic tip as protection against injury
Types of Weapons
According to wasatchfencing.org, the foil is the most modern version of the sword; however, there are other types of weaponry used in competitive fencing. In competition, the tip of the foil's blade is connected to an electrical circuit which helps to score points when the target of the blade has been reached.
The epee is derived from the dueling sword and is heavier than the foil. The blade is more triangular and the guard is larger than the foil in order to protect the hand from a hit. In competition, points are given only when the tip of the blade is used. As with the foil, points are registered electronically when the target is hit.
The sabre is similar to the foil in weight and length; however, the blade is more triangular and the guard covers the side of the hand. In addition to scoring with the tip of the blade, points are given for cuts as well. Because the saber is derived from the thrusting cavalry sword, cuts and thrusts made by the saber must land above the top of the legs with the exception of the back of the hand and the fingers of the hand holding the sword.
According to wasatchfencing.org, there are three basic fundamentals in fencing. These include blade work, footwork, and tactics. Blade work is an essential skill that allows the fencer to reach the target area of his opponent, while the opponent is attempting to block and defend himself. Footwork is physically demanding. The fencer must utilize and master footwork skills in order to move into appropriate positions to reach the target area, while applying necessary blade work in order to defend himself from his opponent. Tactics enable the individual to apply strategy to his fencing. Tactics are a necessary and essential element in fencing, since they must incorporate both blade work and footwork as the fencer maps out his plans for attack and defense.
According to ntlworld.org, there are six basic stances in fencing. These include the grip, the salute, on guard, guards, stepping and the lunge.
The key to holding or gripping the sword is to grasp the foil by placing the hilt of the sword between the thumb and forefinger. The remaining fingers are used to control the movement of the blade.
In competition, the salute is required between two fencers. The salute involves lifting the sword up to the chin and then dipping toward the opponent before returning the weapon to the chin with a final flourish.
The on guard position is the ready position where the feet are placed shoulder width apart and the leading foot is pointed toward the opponent. The feet should be equally balanced and flat on the ground. The arm holding the weapon should have the blade pointed straight out toward the shoulder of the opponent. The other arm is bent and guarding the other arm.
The fencer will step forward or backward either shifting the balance to the front leg or rear leg. The fencer will always come back to the basic on guard position. To attack his opponent, the fencer will lunge with his front leg and extending his sword arm as he points the blade toward his opponent’s target area. To recover from a lunge, the fencer will always return to the basic on guard position.
- Photo Credit sword fight image by Slobodan Djajic from Fotolia.com
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