Fencing is primarily a martial art . Before it was established as a sport, it was widely used as a duel . The historical origins of this fighting technique go back to the refinement of weapons and the movement sequences compared to sword and saber fighting .
Today fencing is mainly used to describe sport fencing; It is fought with foil , rapier and (light) saber . The official language of competition in fencing ( Escrime in French ) is French . Unlike modern sport fencing , historical fencing refers to earlier styles such as those of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. We try to recreate these styles as faithfully as possible.
History of fencing
Along with boxing and wrestling, fencing was one of the first human competitions. A type of sporting fencing was practiced in ancient times (in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire ) and in Africa . Fencing was originally an armed fight between two people, in which edged weapons with long blades and hand protection were used. These were conducted in such a way that attacks by the enemy could be intercepted. With the development of efficient handguns , edged weapons largely lost their military importance from the 17th century. The sword was only used against civilian opponents, in duels or for self-defense against light or unarmored opponents and was therefore lighter in weight and faster in leadership. Starting in Italy and Spain, rapier fencing experienced its heyday during this time , which was replaced in the 18th century by even lighter forms such as epee fencing.
The European dueling culture goes back to the late Middle Ages, when the bourgeoisie also experienced its first boom. Since at this time both the carrying of a weapon and the right and duty of the honor trade ( duel ) were the privilege of the free (noble) man, the free citizens strived for these rights in order to emancipate themselves from the nobility. This is how the first fencing associations emerged, such as B. the "Vitus fencers" in Prague, who celebrated their federal conventions in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague . The word “Veiterfechter” was transformed into the term “Federfechter”, which was later misunderstood as a reference to the lightness of modern fencing weapons. At the same time, many military fencing teachers lost their wages and bread and looked for new fields of activity as teachers of civil fencers, but also as wage fencers in honorary trades in the military sector because of the spread and easier handling of firearms. They wandered through the cities, knocked on the portals of middle-class houses and palaces and asked if a fencing master was needed: “They went fencing” in order to be able to feed themselves. This expression is still used today, but for direct door-to-door begging. Since the Middle Ages there have also been attempts by both the Church and the legislature to prevent duels or to criminalize them. The German Penal Code of 1871 forbade any kind of duel with deadly weapons . Nevertheless, the social compulsion to trade in honor remained widespread until after the First World War , although duels outside the student body and the cavalry (sabers) have mostly been fought with handguns instead of edged weapons since the late 18th century.
Around 1570, the French Henri Saint Didier coined most of the fencing terms that are still used today. In Germany, fencing was mainly practiced at universities, especially in its student-simplified form of the scale length . Fencing was only promoted again by the gymnastics movement in the 19th century. In 1862 the first German fencing club was established in Hanover ( Fechtklub Hannover from 1862 ), and in 1896 the first German championships took place.
The weapons used in today's sport fencing competition are foil , epee and (light) saber (in contrast to the “heavy” saber suspended in sports in 1955, which was only fought at once). Foil and sword are purely stabbing, the saber is a cutting and stabbing weapon . Fighting takes place on the fencing track (French: piste for track, but also dance floor, as well as the French planche, which is also colloquially used in Germany for plank, floorboard, plank), which is around 14 m long and 1.50–2 m wide. As a result, this sport is mainly characterized by forward and backward movements. Sideways movements are restricted and only allowed on the planche itself.
Fencing as an Olympic discipline
Fencing was one of the founding sports of Athens in 1896 . Three competitions were on the program in Athens: saber, foil and foil for fencing masters. Epee fencing was added in Paris in 1900, team fencing in Antwerp in 1920. In 1920 women in Antwerp fought for the first time for gold in the women's foil. In Rome the team was added, in Atlanta swords, in Athens 2004 sabers. Since the number of fencing competitions at the Olympic Games was limited to ten, two of the six team competitions had to pause from 2004. Due to a resolution of the World Fencing Federation FIE, the team competitions in women's florets and women's sabers were not held in 2004. In 2008, the teams had to take a break in men's florets and women's epee, and in 2012 in men's and women's epee. In 2016, the women's floret and men's saber teams took a break. From the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo , no more team competitions will have to pause, so all 12 disciplines will be represented.
In addition, epee fencing is one of five disciplines of the modern pentathlon , which was redesigned as an Olympic competition and first played during the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm . Epee fencing was also part of the winter pentathlon , which was held as a demonstration competition at the 1948 Winter Olympics .
Fencing in a wheelchair was developed by the founder of the Paralympic encounter, Ludwig Guttmann, as a sporting rehabilitation measure. Wheelchair fencing was practiced as early as 1960 at the first official Paralympic Games (at that time still the “World Games of the Paralyzed”) in Rome and is one of the oldest Paralympic sports. Guttmann, who had to flee Germany in 1933 because of his Jewish descent, was director of the National Spinal Injuries Center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury .
In Germany, wheelchair fencing was promoted by the former director of the Wildbad professional development organization, Walter Weiß. First, sword fencing was trained under fencing master Richard Heimke with twelve participants. In 1964 the sword and foil were added. Since 1985 fencing has also been practiced by women within the German Wheelchair Sports Association (DRS).
Anyone who has disadvantages in non-disabled fencing due to a permanent restriction may participate in wheelchair fencing, i.e. not only wheelchair users, but also, for example, amputees or people with a stiff knee.
Wheelchair fencing is divided into three categories:
- A: Class A fencers have completely intact back and abdominal muscles. Most of the time they are still able to stand on their feet or even walk.
- B: Fencers of class B no longer have complete back and abdominal muscles, but have no restrictions in the area of arms and hands.
- C: Fencers of class C no longer have complete back and abdominal muscles, nor do their arms and hands fully function.
The classification is not always easy to make. A classification commission has developed a method for classification, based on which the classification is carried out through fencing-specific function tests.
The wheelchair fencers do not move with the wheelchair over the fencing track - as is generally assumed - but the wheelchairs are fixed in a frame so that they cannot tip over during the battles. The frame consists of two platforms and a length-adjustable connecting rod. The distance between the fencers is determined based on arm length. The rules of wheelchair fencing largely correspond to those of fencing for non-disabled people ( FIE rules). It is fought with foil, rapier and saber.
The term foil comes from the French "fleur" (flower), after the shape of the tip protection that is placed on the tip of the weapon. This point is pushed towards the torso or head of the standing opponent with a horizontal movement component. A metal handle of various shapes (see below), coated or wrapped in textile, is closed at the front by a flat, spherical cap-shaped bell (hand guard) with a diameter of 9.5 to 12 cm.
A maximum 90 cm long blade made of resilient steel extends forward. It has a transverse rectangular cross-section and tapers significantly towards the front. According to the regulations, the blade can be bent downwards by up to one centimeter so that it bulges upwards when it is struck, thereby limiting the impact force. In technical terms, the blade is divided into blade strength, middle and weakness from the handle to the tip.
The blade of the electric foil (E-foil) has an axially displaceable and resiliently mounted point - a tip with a diameter of about 8 mm - in a tip sleeve, which, when impacted with a force equivalent to a weight of more than 500 g ( i.e. about 4.9 Newtons ), triggers a hit display. This dome pin moves a few millimeters and activates a switch contact. The 2-pole electrical line runs in a groove on the blade, through the bell and is connected to the body cable via a plug connection in the area of the back of the hand, which runs through the sleeve of the jacket to the back. Together with a contact to the hit area on the torso, a plug connection is made to the cable that, rolled up on a small drum by spring force, is stretched backwards over the track and allows the fencer as much freedom of movement as possible. He is only prevented from turning around the vertical axis. Most important international tournaments like the Olympic Games are now being fought wirelessly. The cable connection between fencer and detector is no longer necessary.
The hit area is the torso including the area of the step. With the 2009/2010 competition season, the under part of the bib of the mask was also introduced as a hit area. As with the saber (unlike with the sword) the right of attack applies . With the introduction of the coupés at the end of the 20th century and the shortening of the electronic display time, foil fencing became more athletic.
The foil handle is available in three different types:
- "Pistol grip" also "Belgian" or "orthopedic" grip (orthopedic, hand-fitted)
- "French" (a stick bent slightly inwards)
- "Italian" (a straight staff with quillons, quart and third bow)
Nowadays, most of the fighting is done with a Belgian grip, less often with a French grip. The Italian grip is almost impossible to find in fencing today.
The sword was the weapon used in the duel. It has a larger, more hemispherical bell with a diameter of 13.5 cm and a stronger blade with a V-shaped cross-section. A "large" rapier is 110 cm long according to guidelines, a "small" rapier (children's rapier) is 90 cm according to guidelines. The hit area is the entire body. Rapiers equipped to indicate an electrical hit have a spring-loaded point in a point sleeve, which triggers a hit in the event of an impact with a force of more than 750 g (approx. 7.36 N ).
For the handle of a sword there are the following two ways:
- "Pistol grip" also "Belgian" or "orthopedic" grip (orthopedic, hand-fitted)
- "French" (a long smooth stick)
The saber has a flat, flexible blade. The blade has an approximately rectangular cross-section and a maximum total length of 88 cm. The blade becomes narrower towards the tip. The hit area is the entire torso including the head and arms. Lashes also count as hits. Saber fencing is usually faster than foil fencing. As with foil, there is a right of attack . The saber bell is cut differently and drawn around the hand in a hemispherical shape.
Actions and technology
The fencing position is the starting position for movements on the fencing lane, position of the feet, position of the body's center of gravity and rotation of the shoulder and pelvis. The feet are at right angles to each other, the tips of the feet should be roughly below the knees and the distance between the heels is 1.5–2 foot lengths. The upper arm on the weapon side is angled slightly from the body, while the forearm is parallel to the ground. The knees are slightly bent, slightly lower in foil fencing than in the other weapons. The distance to the opposing fencer is called the scale length .
- Lunge, approaching the opponent, by putting the front leg forward while stretching the rear leg
- Ballestra (jump with the following dropout)
- Flèche ( French : "arrow", "bullet") - fall attack in which the rear leg is brought forward with momentum and the attacker runs / flies towards the opponent. (not allowed in the saber)
- Cross step forwards and backwards (cross step forwards in the saber not permitted)
- Patinando (step forward with the following dropout)
- Radoppio (failure with subsequent pulling of the back leg to repeat the failure to prolong the attack)
- Step forwards and backwards, double step forwards and backwards, jump (the leg that is closest to the jump direction lifts off first, the other follows. However, legs land at the same time.)
- Appeal step (a kind of stamping without actually moving forward, usually to simulate a jump or step or attack)
- Locking push (intermediate push into an opposing attack)
- Battuta (blade strike, which removes them from their threatening direction or increases the nakedness offered by the opponent (free hit surface) or a reflex movement of the opponent is intended)
- Binding (fixing the opponent's blade by your own)
- Cavation (circular bypassing the opponent's blade)
- Coupé (sudden retraction of one's own blade in the vertical and falling thrust in a significantly smaller scale to the opponent)
- Filo (attack along the opponent's blade, binding it at the same time)
- Feint (mock attack to make the opponent make a hasty false parade)
- straight thrust
- Counter-parade with counter-riposte (a riposte is parried, and a counter-attack follows)
- Ligade (fake)
- Parade with riposte (defense with an immediate counterattack)
- Sforza (sling filo, catapults the blade out of the opponent's hand) (no longer permitted these days)
- Blocking push (attack push with simultaneous binding of the opponent's blade)
- Transport binding (binding the opponent's blade, transport movement to another position in order to be able to push out of this more effectively)
- Bingo (rapid movement in the direction of the opponent's hit area. Abruptly stopping above the target before touching it, causing the blade to swing and bend so that hard-to-reach targets - for example the wrist behind the bell or the back - have to be hit.)
The amount of time it takes to perform a simple leg or blade action (such as a simple step forward or a straight push) is called the tempo or fencing tempo. Compound actions, on the other hand, are actions that require more than one speed (for example step forward and failure).
The fencing clothing is often made of Dyneema , cotton and / or nylon (the numbers in brackets indicate the minimum force in Newtons per square centimeter of a special test object that the corresponding part can withstand in international competitions, in Germany also in all competitions from the age group U13 got to):
- Chest protection (mandatory for women)
- Fencing mask with wire mesh made of V4A steel (3000 N) and neck protection (1600 N)
- Glove with padding (only for weapon arm)
- Pants (800 N)
- Jacket with fixation / blade catch protection (800 N)
- knee socks
- optional groin guard (jockstrap)
- Under vest (plastron) made of aramid (800 N)
The fencing track (international name: piste, but colloquially also called Planche in Germany) is 14 m long and 1.50–2 m wide. It is made of a conductive material that prevents the electrical hit indicator from showing hits on the floor as hits. Lanes made of a copper alloy are common, more modern fencing lanes consist of the lighter aluminum or a rubber fabric with a conductive surface. In training halls, metal plates are sometimes installed directly in the floor.
Markings on the fencing piste:
- Center line
- Two starting lines (each 2 m from the center line)
- Two rear border lines (each 7 m from the center line)
- the last 2 m before the rear border lines are marked in color.
Electronic hit display
The electric hit display was introduced in 1936 during the competition with epee, foil in 1957 and with saber in 1988. With foil and saber, fencers must wear special electronic equipment (foil: e-vest made of brocade and mask with electrically conductive mask bib, saber: e-vest, e-glove, e-mask) in order to get valid hits.
The hit display includes a green light on the right and a red light on the left, from the point of view of the referee. (This orientation coincides with the light display on ships for port and starboard ). This will display valid hits. The light is currently on on the side of the fencer who hit. (In the past, it was indicated which fencer was hit. Occasionally old devices can still be found in clubs, which are then simply connected crosswise.) There is also a white light on each side. This is only required for foil to display an invalid hit.
This is the minimum equipment for a hit display. Modern devices can also display additional information such as the current hit status or the remaining time.
The referee decides whether a displayed hit is actually valid according to the rules.
In the foil, the weapon is connected to the signaling device by two lines, one line is connected to the blade and the second to an insulated wire in a groove in the blade . In addition, there is a button on the tip of the blade which, when idle, connects the wire and the blade and thus closes a circuit. The button opens with a pressure that corresponds to a mass of at least 500 g (approx. 4.9 Newtons ) and interrupts this circuit.
- As long as the circuit between the wire and the blade remains closed, no hit is displayed.
- To trigger a hit, the circuit must be interrupted for at least 14 ± 1 ms, otherwise it will be ignored by the signaling device.
- In the event of a hit outside the permitted hit area (i.e. torso including crotch area), the button at the tip only interrupts the circuit, the hit is displayed as invalid.
- If there is a hit within the hit area, the button also disconnects the connection between the wire and the blade. However, the tip of the blade is in contact with the opponent's e-vest, so a new circuit is closed via the opponent's e-vest and the hit is displayed as valid.
- If hits from the two fencers are not more than 300 ms apart, a simultaneous hit is displayed; if there is a longer time interval, the detector is blocked for the second hit and only the first hit is counted.
In the sword there are two insulated strands in a groove on the blade. There is also a button at the tip of the blade, but unlike the foil, this is open in the idle state and the circuit is thus interrupted. Since every part of the body belongs to the hit area, no e-vest is necessary to distinguish between valid and invalid hits. However, a third line is used to prevent hits on the bell of the opposing weapon or on the piste from triggering a hit.
- A push with at least 750 g pressure closes the button and thus the circuit, a hit is displayed.
- If two hits are not more than 40–50 ms apart, the detector indicates a double hit. A double hit must be displayed for less than 40 ms and a single hit for more than 50 ms. Accordingly, the tolerance of the electrical alarm systems is 10 ms.
With the saber, blows and not just blows are counted as hits, so there is no need for a button in the tip of the blade.
- Invalid hits are not displayed in saber fencing.
- Touching the saber blade with the opponent's e-vest, e-mask or e-glove closes a circuit and thus indicates a valid hit.
- A double hit is only displayed if both hits occur within a period of 120 ms.
Fencing tournament: rules
Betting rounds are fought in tournaments, followed by a direct elimination. The participants are initially divided into rounds, with championships etc. directly qualified can join later.
The competitions are held in different age groups. The age groups of the German Fencing Association were set in 2019:
- U11 - under 11-year-olds (only eligible to compete in their own age group)
- U13 - 12 to 13 year olds (also eligible to start with U15)
- U15 - under 15-year-olds (until U20)
- U17 / Cadets - under 17 years of age
- U20 / Juniors - under 20 years of age
- U23 - under 23-year-olds (special ranking in the senior class)
- Seniors (General Class) (General Age Group)
- Veterans - from 40 years
Younger fencers may fencing in special ratings (U9), but not hold championships. The age groups of the under 17-year-olds were less subdivided before 2019. The veterans were also previously called "seniors", the current seniors were called "active". The term was thus adapted to international standards (French: sénior and vétéran or English: senior and veteran ). There are no internationally standardized age groups below the Cadets (U17).
At many tournaments the veteran age group is further divided:
- "Special class" - 30 to 39 year olds (no official class, but sometimes advertised at tournaments)
- Age group 0 - 35 to 39 year olds
- Age group 1 - 40 to 49 year olds
- Age group 2 - 50 to 59 year olds
- Age group 3 - 60 to 69 year olds
- Age group 4 - 70 year olds and older
In addition to the official world championships and the Olympic Games, youth world championships are held for the U17s (international name “Cadet”, German: cadets) and the U20s (“junior”). There are also special championships for seniors ("Veterans") and the U23.
A battle lasts a maximum of three minutes of pure fighting time in the preliminary and intermediate rounds. In direct eliminations up to three times three minutes with a one-minute break. Fighting is on five, in direct eliminations on up to 15 hits. If there is a tie after the time has elapsed, the advantage is drawn, then (max. One minute) until the "decisive" hit is fought ( sudden death ); If there is no hit, the fencer who has the advantage wins. Any double hits in the epee that occur during the additional minute of fighting time are not counted.
A team consists of three fencers plus a substitute fencer who can be substituted in during the team fight. Every fencer of a team fights against every fencer of the opposing team, so that a team fight consists of nine individual fights, each lasting a maximum of three minutes. The order is specified in the regulations. Team fights are carried out in relay mode, i.e. the fencers take over the score from the previous battle. In the first battle, five hits are fought, in the second, ten, etc. In the last battle, the fights continue until a team has 45 hits or the three minutes have expired. In the event of a tie, the procedure is the same as in a single match.
Right of attack
The right of attack (convention) applies to foil and saber. This means that the hit who started the attack is counted (initiative). If the attack is interrupted / parried, the right to attack changes. There is no convention in the epee, even double hits (mutual hits) are scored if the opponent places his "Tempo - commune" hit within a twenty-fifth to twentieth of a second (40–50 ms).
Rule violations and punishments
In fencing there are three sanctions which the referee (internationally this is carried out by an umpire) pronounces against a fencer using colored signal cards if he has violated a rule. The following sanctions apply to fencing:
- The Warning: A warning is valid during the battle. A warning is issued by the referee by showing the yellow card.
- The penalty hit: If the penalty hit, the opponent gets one hit point. A penalty hit is pronounced by the referee by showing the red card.
- The disqualification . Disqualification is the highest punishment in fencing, as the fencer who is guilty is excluded from the competition and tournament and is suspended for at least two months in the current or the following season. In the competition records, the fencer's name will be replaced by "FENCER EXCLUDED". The opponent has automatically won. A disqualification is pronounced by the referee by showing the black card.
In addition to punishment, the guilty fencer may have his hit canceled for some offenses. However, the cancellation is not a sanction.
The rule violations are divided into four groups. The higher the group, the more severe the offenses and the more severely they are punished. There is also administrative group 0, which punishes technical offenses.
Group 0 offenses
Organizational offenses belong to group 0. Here the fencer or even the team is immediately excluded from the competition if:
- the name and no nationality is carried on the back or the national color is missing,
- the name is missing due to changing a jacket or vest that is not compliant with the rules,
- at the first call by the referee 10 minutes before the start of the round, the team fight or a direct elimination bout, no competitions are made.
If the team has started but is not ready to fight, the fencer is called by the referee. The fencer has 1 minute, otherwise he will be called again. The following penalties are imposed on calls:
|1st call||2nd call||3rd call|
|warning||Penalty hit||Exclusion from competition|
The penalty for passive behavior during a fight has been in place since January 1, 2019. If no valid hit is scored within one minute or if no hit falls outside the valid target area or if one or both fencers express their lack of willingness to fight, the referee must immediately interrupt the fight with a "stop". The referee then punishes one or both fencers with a "P-card". These are independent of the normal punishment according to group 1 to 4 and therefore also to be noted separately on the combat slip. The punishments for passivity are as follows:
|1. Passivity||2nd and 3rd passivity||from the 4th passivity|
|warning||Penalty hit||Disqualification if the fencer has already received 2 red "P-cards"|
The number of hits plays a major role in the allocation of “P cards”. If the number of hits is undecided when the yellow or red "P-card" is issued (ie the same number), both fencers will be penalized. Otherwise the referee will only penalize the fencer who has a low number of hits during the round. A yellow or red “P-Card” is only valid for the fight where it was imposed. It will be canceled in the next fight.
If both fencers are disqualified in the individual competition because of a black "P-Card", the fencer with the higher FIE ranking wins the battle. In a team fight, the disqualified fencer will be replaced by a substitute fencer. However, this is only possible if there has not yet been a change for tactical or medical reasons. Once the substitute fencer has changed, there can be no further change, not even for tactical or medical reasons. If this substitute fencer is disqualified because of passivity with the black "P-Card" or if the team cannot change (for example because they do not have a substitute fencer) they have lost the battle.
A fencer or the team that has been disqualified by a "P-Card" is excluded from the further competition. Further fights will be counted as lost. However, the fencer or the team retains their position and points that were obtained before the disqualification. Disqualification for passive behavior can never result in a 60 day ban.
Group 1 offense
A minor violation of the rules by the fencer who is guilty is classified in the 1st group of the sanctions catalog. These are usually technical offenses. The 1st violation in this group means a warning for the fencer who is guilty. If the guilty fencer commits further violations in this group, he will be punished with a penalty hit.
|1. Violation||Any further violation|
|A fencer will be punished if he:
||In addition, the fencer will lose his hit if he:
If the fencer has already received a red card for an offense from the 2nd or 3rd group, he must see the red card here too despite the 1st offense and receive a penalty hit.
Group 2 offense
Intentional violations of the rules by the guilty fencer, which are not yet regarded as serious, are sorted into the 2nd group of the violation catalog. Any violation of the fencer in this group will be punished with a penalty hit for the opponent.
|The guilty fencer receives a penalty if he:
In addition to the penalty hit, the guilty fencer will have the hit canceled if he:
Group 3 offense
Serious violations of the fencing rules by fencers or outside persons are sorted into the third group of the catalog of violations. As in group 2, the first offense will immediately result in a penalty hit against the fencer. The guilty fencer should be careful that he does not commit another offense in this group, otherwise he will be disqualified by the referee. A disqualification for offenses against group 3 will be imposed in the event of a further offense after a penalty hit. However, if the fencer disturbs the order through a particularly serious violation, the referee can immediately expel him with the black card or even expel him from the competition area.
|1. Violation||2. Violation|
|A fencer will be punished if he:
However, there are three exceptions where a warning is issued instead of a penalty hit.
|1. Violation||2. Violation|
|Instead of a penalty hit, there is a warning if:
If the fencer or any other person who has received a warning for a Group 3 violation commits another Group 3 violation, he will be disqualified with the black card. If a fencer on the lane or anyone on the lane disturbs order through a particularly serious violation, the referee can immediately expel him with the black card or even expel him from the competition area.
Group 4 offense
Extremely serious violations by fencers are classified in the 4th and highest group. Since these are the worst listed violations of the sport of fencing, the guilty fencer will be immediately punished with a disqualification. Since the fencer is excluded from the competition, the opponent wins automatically. At the same time, the fencer is suspended from the tournament and is banned for two months in the current season or thereafter (the season change is on October 1st for the Junior World Championships and on January 1st for the Active World Championship).
|The guilty fencer will be immediately disqualified if he:
The international umbrella organization has been the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) since 1913 . The national sports associations in the German-speaking area are the German Fencing Federation (DFB), the Austrian Fencing Association (ÖFV) and the Fédération Suisse d'Escrime .
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