fencing is one of the oldest activities in the world that is still practiced, is based on the fight between 2 opponents with a sword, which has changed a lot over time as we will see.
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History of Fencing
From very early on, perhaps from the Egyptians or from Ancient Greece the fencing would already exist, with engravings proving this illustrating sword fights between men.
Fencing is now a sport but in the past, it was much more than that. It was a form of combat, it was not something with rules, it was simply meant to survive.
With the passage of time, the swords themselves were also changing and ended up appearing very different types of swords.
Since the Middle Ages, around the beginning of the fifteenth century, schools began to emerge which taught various techniques and styles to soldiers so that they would become more and more skillful with the sword throughout Europe. Germany, France and Italy.
The sport emerged over time and also due to the abandonment of the swords with the appearance of firearms, and in 1896, in the first modern Olympic Games, fencing was one of the sports that were present.
Since then fencing has been an Olympic modality with the various variations (Foil, Epée and Sabre) being added over time as well as the participation of women in the Olympics.
Fencing Weapons / Swords
The weapons in fencing can vary between three versions, each with different characteristics and also with different rules in the competition itself. Let’s see what they are and the differences between them.
This is the most common weapon for fencing practitioners, and this is the weapon by which beginners learn fencing. It is a versatile weapon because of its flexibility and because it is quite light (more than the Epée). Measure about 90 centimeters with the blade, still having the cup (the part that protects the hand from the blade) and the handle.
Traditionally this weapon was the only weapon used by women in competitions, and that reality has changed over the years.
The only zone valid for the touch is the opponent’s twist.
The sword unlike the Foil and the Sabre, is a stiffer weapon and this brings advantage to higher players and takes that advantage that the most versatile have in the other categories,
This fact is proven, making use of its height to have a greater reach. With the Sword, the whole body is valid for the attack, so the position should be more right and not too flexed because so the knee is far ahead and this would be a visible weakness of the player.
This weapon is the most flexible of all, to the point that it almost looks like a whip when shaken with force and this makes even blocking the blade can bend on your weapon and touch him the same.
The sabre matches are quite fast and that’s why it takes a lot of dexterity and physical ability. Not only for this but also because unlike the others that only counts the touch with the tip, it can touch with any part of the blade.
The valid touch zone is the torso and arms.
The fencing track measures 14 meters in length and varies between 1,5 and 2 meters wide. This same track is divided into several zones as you can see in the image below.
It has a half line dividing the track into two, 7 meters for each side.
Then there are two guard lines, each one 2 meters from the center line.
At the ends of the track, in an area of 2 meters long is an area called Signalis, this is usually another color and serves as a warning to fencers that they are almost out of the valid area of the track.
And finally, after the zone Signals there is the area of Final Retreat, taking it between 1,5 and 2 meters and is made of conductive metal.
This is responsible for seeing if all plays are valid and control all combat, having as main functions:
- Know the basic rules according to the FIE Regulations on the 3 weapons.
- Call the fencers on the track.
- Direct the match.
- Check material, clothing, safety and control marks.
- Supervise your assistants.
- Keep order.
- Punish the faults.
- Give the ringtones.
Modern Fencing Combat
An electrical system is now used to facilitate the referee’s function by pointing out when there is a touch by some of the fencers (especially in the foil and the saber), all running through electric current.
There is an Electronic Device that sits between the referee and the court and indicates the match time, the score and when there is a touch, lighting up different colored lights, thus indicating which was the fencer who made the touch.
This system works because there are some reels, similar to a spool, at the end of each end of the lane, which is stretching the wires that are attached to the fencer and which transmit the electric current.
Because each weapon has different contact zones, the clothing itself also varies slightly, using different types of electrical mesh, if the valid zone includes the legs or arms.
The fencing has several pieces of equipment so that it is possible to be practiced and many of the special because of the electrical system. We will see all the necessary equipment for this.
This is made of a sturdy and reinforced fabric under the armpits so it protects the fencers from touches more violent and thus avoiding any kind of sore. It can be of various colors and have the name of the fencer on the back along with the abbreviation of the country.
This is made of interlocking steel wire in order to protect the face and head of the fencer. It also has a cushioned part, called Bib, which protects the neck area from touch.
The glove is also cushioned and should go up to at least half of the forearm. Only a glove is used in the hand that holds the gun, and the wire connecting the gun to the retractor passes by to signal when there is a touch.
The shoes should be lightweight and have a sole that has good grip and allows quick stops and changes of direction.
Even the socks have rules … They must be long enough to be above the knee.
Basic Fencing Rules
Let’s now list some of the basic rules of fencing:
- Before putting on the masks, the fencers should greet each other using their swords and then greet the referee and the assistants. After that, you can put on the masks.
- In the Foil and Epée, only the touch with the tip of the weapon is valid, but when the Saber is used, the entire blade can be used to achieve a valid touch.
- If a fencer loses the weapon during the confrontation, if it is whoever is attacking the one who loses it, then the other can make a touch (also having some care) and it will be valid. If whoever loses the weapon is the one who is defending it, then as a matter of ethics, the combat is paused and only resumed when the two fencers are back in position to fight.
- In the event of a fencer fleeing the opponent from the side of the lane, he is forced to retreat a meter and the combat resumes. If he fled down the lane, then the point is given to the opponent.