Fencing Terms

attack au fer: an attack that is prepared by deflecting an opponents blade

bout: one single fight ,usually lasting around six minutes, stopped each time a hit is made so point can be awarded and then restarted.

compound attack: an attack executed in two or more movements

corps-à-corps: (fencing) literally body-to-body – physical contact between fencers during a bout (illegal in sabre)

disengagement: a way to continue attacking after being parried.

En Garde: the fencing position, the “ready” position fencers take before play is called.

flèche: a way of delivering an attack. Literally means arrow. The attacker leaps to make the attack and then passes the opponent at a run.

flunge: an attack specific to sabre. The type of fleche attack used in sabre in which the legs don’t cross.

Lame: a woven wire cloth jacket to detect hits on the electric recording device.

parry: defensive move, a block. Parry of quinte: in sabre, a parry where the blade is held above the head to protect from head cuts.

piste: a fourteen meter long combat area on which a bout is fought. Opponents are hooked up to an electrical apparatus which enables valid hits to be recorded.

plastron: a padded under-jacket to protect the area of the torso where most hits land.

point: the tip of a weapons blade.

president: the referee or arbiter of the bout – in the case of school matches, one of the fencing masters.

pool: in competition fencers are divided into equal groups, called pools, each fencer meeting someone from an opposing pool until half remain. This is called seeding.

retire: retreat.

riposte: an offensive action made immediately after a parry of the opponent’s attack

sabre: One of the three fencing weapons. It is the only cutting. Points are scored both by hits made with the point of the blade and cuts made with the blade, but most commonly by cuts – for this reason the entire weapon including the guard registers hits even though hitting someone on the weapon’s guard is not legal. This means the sabreur is totally wired – unlike the other fencing weapons. The sabre target is everything above the leg including the head and arms. The mask is made of metal, while the mask’s bib and the jacket (including sleeves) down to the hips is made of woven metal so that only valid hits are recorded on the electrical apparatus. Before play begins the sabreurs must check that all parts of their electric kit is working, this is done by the sabreurs tapping their opponents on the mask, the sabre, the guard and the metal jacket so that all hits will be recorded – this takes place before the salute.

salle: fencing hall or club

salute: once formal and involving the kissing of the blade, now a casual acknowledgement of one’s opponent and president at the start of a bout.

seeding: see pool.

supermans: an exercise to warm up before combat, a holding stance used for warming up – so called because the fist is raised in the attitude of superman before he flies.

trompement: deception of the parry.

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