All You Need to Know About Fencing

Sports come and go and we are familiar with some of them, but others remain something of a myth, especially if all we do is hear about them here and there, without actually looking them up. Take cricket, for instance. Many people from countries that do not practice playing this sport have either not heard of it at all, or heard about it via news of cricket betting. The same goes for fencing. It is because of the lack of popularity that fencing is still somewhat of an enigma. Fencing is an interesting sport that started off as something else entirely.

If you wanted to learn about fencing and didn’t know where to start, here are the things that you should know.

Ancient Sword Fighting, But Medieval Roots

Fencing, or rather, sword fighting, is an old sport. There are signs and traces of sword fighting that date back to ancient Egypt. Duels were actually a thing and were legal up until the 18th century. 

Fencing, as a sport and hobby, can be traced back to the 14th and 15th century, to Italy and Germany. Notably, German masters started organizing guilds, which would nowadays be schools. The first notable one is the one organized by Maxbrueder of Frankfurt, circa 1478. 

Fencing was a popular hobby and pastime, but it had its boom in the 18th century, after a book called L’Ecole des Armes or The School of Fencing, was written, by Domenico Angelo. It depicts basic stances. It is to this day used as a guide on how to fence.

The Gear – Every Sport Has Some

Fencing has its gear, which is something we know as white suits and a mesh covering a person’s face, to protect it from a blunt, but still dangerous sword. Then, there are the swords. 

The masks and the swords were redesigned thoroughly after 1982, due to an accident when Matthias Herr’s sword broke and it went through the mask of one Vladimir Smirnov, and straight through his brain. 

Masks and swords were changed entirely, masks to stainless steel and swords to a steel alloy which is very unlikely to break. Neck bibs were made out of kevlar, to protect from any potential sword injuries.

There are Multiple Types of Fencing

Fencing is not just one sport, as some might expect. Just like there isn’t one type of skiing, there isn’t a single type of fencing. There are three competitive types of fencing, foil, sabre and epee. 

How they differ is in the weapons they use and the legality of the hits. Epee, for example, allows points to be scored anywhere on the body. Foil fencing allows only points to be scored by hitting the chest. Sabre allows the entirety of the upper body to be a valid target.

Foil and epee use the tip as a valid scoring option, while sabre can use the sword body as well.

Aside from the competitive types of fencing, there are others, which are either specific to a certain region in the world, or are simply not accepted as competitive events.

Fencing is a rather popular sport in some parts of the world, that originated from sword duels and guids in the 14th and 15th century, founded by sword masters. It grew into an Olympic sport and one that viewers greatly enjoy.