FENCING TERMS GLOSSARY-
We’ve gathered all the most commonly used modern fencing terms from A-Z. If you’re looking for a specific term, press ctrl+f on your keyboard (or ⌘+f on an apple computer) to search for it. Or click here for another version in which we have separated them into easy to understand categories for your consumption. Enjoy!
- Advance: Basic forward movement from En Garde position.
- Appel: Or Half Advance. Forward movement of only the front leg. Often used to disrupt opponent’s sense of distance.
- Attack: Offensive action made by the extension of the arm and continuous threat of your opponent. Often precedes Lunge or Fleche
- Attack in Preparation: An attack into an opponent’s preparation of the attack.
- Attaque au Fer: An attack on the opponent’s blade, such as a beat.
- Ballestra: French for ‘sudden leap’. A quick jump forward.
- Bayonet: A type of body cord for Foil and Saber characterized by a single electrical connection between the wires and the weapon.
- Beat: Hitting the top two-thirds of your opponent’s blade. Gives Right-of-Way. Hitting the bottom third of the blade allows for a Riposte from your opponent.
- Bell Guard: The metal at the base of a weapon that covers and protects the hand.
- Bind: where the fencer takes control of their opponent’s blade and forces it into another line.
- Black Card: A card (punishment) given for the most serious offense during a competition. A black card means expulsion from one or more tournaments. Spectators can also receive black cards.
- Body Cord: The trio of wires that runs under a fencer’s jacket to be used with a scoring machine.
- Bout: A spar between two fencers, at a competition or at practice.
- Bout Time: Not to be confused with Fencing Time. The time left on the clock until the period or the bout ends.
- Bracket: Also Tableau. Indicates which fencers compete against each other. A tree diagram that shows a series of bouts. Fencing is almost always single elimination (direct elimination).
- Chest Protector: A molded plastic protector that guards a fencer’s chest. Typically used by women.
- Composé Attack (Attack Composé): Also Compound Attack. An attack or riposte that incorporates one or more Feints.
- Compound Attack: Also Composé Attack. An attack or riposte that incorporates one or more Feints.
- Corps-à-Corps: When two fencers come into body contact with one another. Stops and resets the fencing action.
- Counter-Attack: An attack made after and into your opponent’s attack
- Counter Parry: Indicates a circular parry. Also common vernacular to indicate a parry after a riposte. However, the official term is simply Parry.
- Counter Riposte: Indicates a second or further riposte.
- Counter-Time: An attack in response to the opponent’s counter attack.
- Coupé: A specific execution of a Disengage where the fencer avoids the opponent’s blade by moving their blade up and over the opponent’s Parry.
- DE (Direct Elimination): Name given to a bout in which the losing fencer is eliminated from the tournament. Most common in bracket format, and usually fenced to 15 touches.
- Defensive Action: A movement with the hand or feet with the intention of avoiding a hit or stopping an opponent's attack.
- Director: Also Referee. Official that determines the outcome of a touch.
- Disengage: Avoiding blade contact while your opponent is actively seeking it through actions such as a Parry or a Beat.
- Distance Parry: Also Parry with Distance. Defensive Action that stops an offensive action with only spacing, such as moving out of the way of an attacking blade - see also Parry.
- Double Touch: In Epee, when both fencers hit at the same time, both are awarded with a touch.
- Dry Bouting (or Dry): Fencing without the aid of electronic scoring machines.
- En Garde: Ready position for fencing. Also said by directors to indicate they wish the fencers to get ready for the touch.
- En Garde Lines: Lines on the Piste that indicate where to take a ready position
- Epee: One of the three fencing weapons. Epee is characterized by its large bell guard and tapered blade. Largest of the three. Touches in Epee are scored solely based on who hits first. Touches can only be scored with the point of the weapon. Target is anywhere on the body.
- Extension: An attack composed of the extension of the weapon arm.
- Feint: An offensive movement that resembles an attack to draw a reaction from an opponent, usually to open a line for a true attack.
- Fencing Time: The time required to perform one simple fencing action within the bounds of a touch.
- FIE: Federation Internationale d'Escrime; French acronym that translates to International Fencing Federation
- Fleche: An aggressive action in which the fencer launches themselves at their opponent, often breaking footwork for a running motion.
- Flick: In Foil and Epee, a cutting motion that causes the blade to bend and ‘flick’ the point towards the target.
- Flunge: Or “Saber Fleche”. A leaping attack that starts similarly to a Fleche, but avoids crossing the feet to retain legality in Saber.
- Foil: One of the three fencing weapons. Foil is characterized by its light weight and circular hand guard. Touches are scored only with the tip, and right of way is in place to determine who is awarded a point. Target is the torso, including the groin but excluding the arms and head.
- Foot Judge: Additional referees that will be brought in specifically to determine if a fencer is out of bounds, or in the case of Saber, is crossing their feet.
- French Grip: A grip characterized by its slight bend.
- Half Advance: Also Appel. Forward movement of only the front leg. Often used to disrupt opponent’s sense of distance.
- Hand Judge: Additional referees that will be brought in specifically to determine if a fencer is covering target.
- Handle: The grip of the weapon.
- Head Cord: Also Mask Clip. Wire that connects the Lamé to the Mask.
- In-fighting: Fencing at a distance closer than the length of the weapons. The weapon has to be withdrawn to score a touch with the tip.
- Knickers: White pants required in most fencing competitions.
- Lamé: Conductive jacket used to indicate and score with electric machines.
- Line: Used to describe the direction of the attack. Often used “high-line”, and “low-line” to indicate attacks in that direction. See Point-in-Line
- Lunge: Most common attack finisher. Performed by pushing the front leg forward from an En Garde position. The fencer lands, legs apart, with the front leg bent and the back leg straight.
- Mal-Parry: French for “bad parry”. A parry that does not block the opponent’s attack. Not performed intentionally.
- Maraging Steel: A steel alloy used for making blades for the three weapons. Blades made out of this alloy is required for FIE tournaments.
- Mask Clip: Also Head Cord. Wire that connects the Lamé to the Mask.
- Match: Refers to a group of bouts between two fencing teams. Used vernacularly to refer to a Bout.
- Offensive Action: A movement with the hand or feet with the intention of striking your opponent.
- Opposition: The term given to controlling the opponent’s blade to perform an action without risk of counter-attack.
- Parry: Defensive Action that stops an offensive action, such as blocking an attacking blade with your own - see also Parry with Distance or Distance Parry.
- Parry with Distance: Also Distance Parry. Defensive Action that stops an offensive action with only spacing, such as moving out of the way of an attacking blade - see also Parry .
- Pass: When two fencers move past each other.
- Passé: An attack that passes the target without hitting.
- Piste: Also Strip. Court on which fencing action takes place. A strip is 14 meters long and at least 1.5 meters wide. Moving off the back end of a strip awards a point for the opponent. Going off either side of the strip stops the fencing action and penalizes the fencer distance. If this causes them to go off the end of the strip, a point is awarded.
- Pistol Grip: A grip used in Foil and Epee, characterized by its similarity in shape to that of a pistol.
- Plastron: Also Underarm Protector. A garment worn under the jacket for additional safety. Covers part of the fencing arm, and about half of the torso.
- Pod: Most common in USFA tournaments to refer to the group of 4 strips that a particular part of a bracket takes place on.
- Point-in-line: Where the fencer’s sword arm is held straight and the point of the fencer’s arm continuously threatens your opponent. Gives Right-of-Way
- Pommel: The fastener that attached the grip and the guard to the tang of the blade.
- Pools: A term given to the round-robin format that gives initial placements into a Direct Elimination tableau.
- Preparation: Any action that precedes the actual beginning of the attack. See Attack in Preparation.
- Pret Allez: Pronounced “pray allay”. Used by the referee to indicate the start of the point.
- Priority (overtime): When the time runs out in a bout with a tied score, the referee flips a coin to determine Priority (overtime). On the event that overtime finishes without a touch scored, the fencer with Priority wins.
- Priority (Right-of-Way): Less common synonym of Right-of-Way. Not to be confused with Priority (overtime).
- Prise de Fer: A Beat that deflects the blade. Often used synonymously with Beat.
- Recover: Moving from an extended lunge back into En Garde.
- Red Card: For moderate offenses or repeated small offenses. A red card awards a point for the fencer’s opponent.
- Red Card (Group III): For serious offenses. A group III red card awards a point for the opponent. A second group III red card is converted into a black card.
- Redoublement: An additional offensive action made after a previous offensive action has failed. A redoublement is an indirect attack. See also Renewal, Remise, Reprise.
- Reel: The part of the scoring machine that connects the fencer to the machine.
- Referee: Also Director. Official that determines the outcome of a touch.
- Remise: An additional offensive action made after a previous offensive action has failed. A remise is a direct attack. See also Renewal, Reprise, Redoublement.
- Renewal: An additional offensive action made after a previous offensive action has failed. There are three types of renewal: Remise, Reprise, Redoublement.
- Reprise: An additional offensive action made after a previous offensive action has failed. A reprise takes place immediately after a recover into the En Garde position. See also Renewal, Remise, Redoublement.
- Retreat: Basic backward movement from the En Garde position.
- Right-of-Way: Right-of-Way is given to the fencer that initiates their attack first. Right-of-Way can be given for a successful stopping of the attack as well.
- Riposte: Offensive Action made after successfully parrying.
- Saber: One of the three fencing weapons. The only weapon that can score with a cut as well as a thrust. Target is the entire body above the waist. Touches are scored with Right-of-Way. Saber fencers are not allowed to cross over their feet moving forward.
- Salle: Fencing club; room in which fencing takes place.
- Salute: A gesture of respect in which the fencer flourishes the blade before and after a bout. Salutes vary by discipline, but the most common acknowledges the opponent, the referee, and the crowd.
- Scoring Box: An electric box that indicates which fencer hits their opponent. Some models come with score-keeping as well.
- Second-intention: Used to indicate a compound action. The first action performed by the fencer is not the one intended to score the touch. Usually a move will be initiated to draw a desired reaction out of the opponent, which the fencer will be ready to counter.
- Shims: Device to test the proper separation of tip from barrel.
- Simultaneous: In Foil and Saber, Simultaneous is two attack for which the right of way is too close to determine by the referee.
- Stop Cut: A counter-attack that allows the fencer to hit his opponent and still parry the oncoming attack (either with distance or blade).
- Strip: Also Piste. Court on which fencing action takes place. A strip is 14 meters long and at least 1.5 meters wide. Moving off the back end of a strip awards a point for the opponent. Going off either side of the strip stops the fencing action and penalizes the fencer distance. If this causes them to go off the end of the strip, a point is awarded.
- Tableau: Also Bracket. Indicates which fencers compete against each other. A tree diagram that shows a series of bouts. Fencing is almost always single elimination (direct elimination).
- Test Weights: A cylinder-shaped weight to test depression force of the tips in Foil and Epee. The weight for foil is 500g. The weight for epee is 750g.
- Two Meter Warning Lines: Lines on the Piste that indicates only two meters left until the end of the strip. The area between the two meter warning lines and the end of the strip are often hash-marked.
- Two-pronged Cord: A type of body cord for Foil and Saber characterized by two electrical connections between the wires and the weapon.
- USFA: US Fencing Association. The organization responsible for the highest level of US competitions.
- Warning: The smallest infraction. Two warnings will grant a Yellow Card to the fencer.
- Whites: The non-electrical ‘white’ fencing clothing.
- Wire (Blade): The wire that runs the length of the blade in Epee or Foil. This wire needs to be unbroken for electric scoring to register properly.
- Wire (Cord): One of the three wires that runs inside a body cord. These wires need to be unbroken for electric scoring to register properly. Also commonly used to refer to Body Cords.
- Yellow Card: A small rule violation. Two yellow cards will grant a Red Card to the fencer.