Blades of Fire

Absence of blade
when the swords are not in contact

step forward by moving the front foot, followed by the rear foot.  The rear foot does not pass the front foot.

the last three fingers of the sword hand

exaggerated displacement of the hand in the line between the weapon and the sword arm by flexing the wrist 

Annulment of hit
when a valid hit is disallowed due to a rule infringement / technical fault

beating the ground with the ball of the foot, either front foot or rear foot

friendly combat between two fencers


Position of the fencer after having straightened both arms and legs, and
joined the feet.  Used in the Salut des Armes or at the end of a fencing lesson

an initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and carrying on with a progressive movement (linge, fleche, etc)

Attack on the blade

Executed on the opposing blade

ducking / moving to avoid being hit

Back edgeBout : Match where the result counts.

the edge of a sabre blade opposite the cutting edge.  Also called “contre taille”
counter-cutting edge

a short, forward bound, usually folled by a lunge.

a fight-off in the event of a tie

crisp striking movement of the opponent's blade to create a deflection or obtain a reactionused


The lower left part of the target (Sabre.)

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

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

Body wire
wire worn under a fencer's clothing to connect the sword to the electrical apparatus

a fight for a specific number of hits

Breaking ground
stepping back

white, knee-length trousersl with side fastening on the non-sword-arm side, and leg fastenings below the knees

Broken time
when a pause is introduced into an action which is normally performed in one movement

actions performed with unacceptable force which causes discomfort to the opponent

soft point cover on a non-electric foil / epee

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.  Consisting of turning aside the opposing blade and directing it in a line (without leaving it) differing from the line the attacker intended.

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 protectors
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

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 of attack

Compound prises de fer
two or more consecutive takings of the blade, alike or different, with no loss of blade contact

Compound parry

a term used by some to define a succession of parries used against compound offensive actions

Compound riposte
riposte comprising one or more feints


Imprecise term sometimes used to designate a prolonged offensive action

fencing rules

Conversion of the weapon hand

action of turning the hand

bell-shaped guard of a foil or epee

Corner judge

assistant of the referee

Corps à corps
bodily contact between the fencers in a bout

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.  It is sometimes executed while stepping forward, sometimes by retreating or by ducking, sometimes with a half-lunge or an extension of the guard.

an indirect action which deceives a change of engagement.  Dérobement (escape) from a change of engagement of the opponent by a disengagement or evasion from a circular parry by a disengagement. 

Counter-offensive action
action carried out on the opponent’s offensive

seecircular parry

hit carried out after having parried the opponent’s riposte or counter-riposte

parrying an opponent’s counter-attack and then taking the offensive.

see cut-over


to protect oneself from the point of from the opposing weapon (sabre) with
the aid of the blade

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


taking of the blade in which one carries the opponent’s balde in a high line
in order to bring it down to a low line of the same side. It can also be executed from a
low line to a high line.

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.  From a high line to a high line, it is a simple offensive action carried out by parrying over and in front the opponent’s point.  It is executed either by sliding on the opponent’s blade up to the point by a backward motion or without blade contact.  From the lower line, it is executed by passing below
and in front of the opponent’s point.


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

actions made after a pause; usually attacks or ripostes

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

when both blades break contact

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

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

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

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

to be eliminated from a competition due to cheating or bad behavior, or by default, eg late arrival

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 prises de fer loss of contact between the first and second prise de fer

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

when both blades are in contact

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


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

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

the flexible half of the blade further away from the hilt

the half of the blade nearer to the hilt

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

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

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 


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

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

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

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


the index finger and thumb of the sword hand

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 

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

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 


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

the teaching of a movement in parts, ie isolating the parts of the movement demanding most skill and practising them in isolation; then putting the parts together to make a whole movement

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

a sequence of fencing movements performed without a break

the field of play on which a bout takes place

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

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

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

Principle of defence
the execution of a parry by the defencer's forte opposing the attacking foible, ie 'opposition of forte to foible'

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

the position of the sword hand with the knuckles uppermost 

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

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

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

the return to the On guard position

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

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

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

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

an offensive action following a successful parry of an attack 


low line, pronated guard on the sword-arm side

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

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

two or more consecutive parries made to defend against compound attacks

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

the part of the blade on which the hilt is mounted

high line, pronated guard on the sword-arm side