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The Fencing History

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What’s meant by fencing?

In the combat sport of fencing, two competitors engage in swordplay to strike and block one another in an effort to score points.

The foil, épée, and sabre (also known as saber) are the three disciplines of modern fencing. Every discipline has different rules and uses a different type of blade (all with the same name).

Fencing
Fencing

Who invented fencing, where did it happen, and when?

There is evidence of sword fights dating back to 1190 BC in Ancient Egypt, and these contests and duels persisted until the 18th century.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, fencing began to take on a sporting character in Germany and Italy after initially serving as a means of military training.

The first guilds in Germany were founded by masters of fencing, the most famous of which was the Marxbrueder of Frankfurt in 1478.

The development of a weapon with a flattened tip called the foil, regulations governing the target area, and a wire-mesh mask contributed to the rise in popularity of the sport in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Sixteen years after the Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms, the first official fencing competition took place in London in 1880, the Amateur Gymnastic and Fencing Association (now British Gymnastics) drew up official rules for the sport, and in 1896 fencing made its debut at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens.

What are the fencing regulations?

There are two fencers and a referee in a fencing bout. In order to score points, an athlete must strike or “touch” specific parts of their opponent’s body with their sword. A 14-meter-long by 1.5- to 2-meter-wide piste is used for all three disciplines. If you retreat off the end of the piste, your opponent scores a point. Every touch is worth one point, and each bout consists of three three-minute periods interspersed with one-minute breaks. The athlete leading at the end of the third period, or the first competitor to reach 15 points, is deemed the winner.

In team competition, each competitor on one team squares off against every competitor on the opposing team once, for a total of nine bouts. Every bout lasts three minutes or five points, and the score is carried over to the next round. In the event that both teams have 45 points after the ninth round, the team with the most points wins.

Which kinds of fencing are there?

Fencing is divided into three categories: épée, sabre, and foil. The weapons used in the three disciplines are different: the foil uses a lighter weapon for thrusting, the épée uses a heavier weapon for thrusting, and the sabre uses a lighter weapon for both cutting and thrusting.

The Olympics and fencing
Since the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, fencing has been a permanent feature of the Olympic Games, just one of five sports. The number of events has increased to 12, with men’s and women’s individual and team competitions for each discipline, from the three that were contested at the 1896 Games in Athens (men’s individual foil, men’s individual sabre, and masters foil).

Top fencers to observe
Since most contemporary fencers focus on just one discipline, there are several elite competitors to watch in the sport.

Two of the top athletes in the sport who will probably compete in Paris 2024 are Romain Cannone (France), who won gold in both individual and team épée at the world championships in 2022, in addition to the gold he won in individual épée at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, and Sun Yiwen (People’s Republic of China), a three-time Olympic medallist and 2019 world champion.

The rules and format of the fencing competition in Paris in 2024
The fencing competitions in Paris 2024 are scheduled for July 27–August 4, 2024.

Each gender will use the same weapons in the twelve medal events:

  • Individual Epée (women’s / men’s)
  • Individual Foil (women’s / men’s)
  • Individual Sabre (women’s / men’s)
  • Team Epée (women’s / men’s)
  • Team Foil (women’s / men’s)
  • Team Sabre (women’s / men’s)

There is only one round in the Olympic fencing competition, and competitors go straight to the next round if they win each bout as a team or individual. A loss results in elimination from the competition for the individual or team, with the exception of the semi-finals, where the winners proceed to the gold-medal match and the two losers compete for the bronze medal.

Fencers who meet the requirements will be grouped according to their discipline in a drawing. According to their standings from the international fencing federation, the Federation Internationale d’Escrime, competitors are seeded individually and as a team.

 

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