Modern fencing consists of three weapons:

  • Foil
  • Epee (French for sword)
  • Sabre

The protective equipment for each weapon is the same:

Jacket. Padded in the chest area with a high collar and a zip fastener on the side opposite the weapon hand.

Jackets for foil and epee extend below the groin and have a strap between the legs to the back of the jacket. Sabre jackets are flat down to the waist.

Plastron (breast plate) an additional layer protecting the weapon arm side of the body

Women’s jackets have pockets inside the jackets for round, plastic breast protectors: .

Glove: The glove covers half the forearm with extra padding on the backhand to protect the weapon hand; the opposing hand is bare.

The mask protects the head and face. It has a padded bib, which covers the neck and an extremely strong wire mesh.

White trousers, knee length, worn with above-the-knee white socks.

Shoes ideally offer extra support to the inside of the sole. Specific fencing shoes are available but standard indoor trainers such as squash shoes will suffice

The Weapons

A foil is the modern version of a rapier. It is a point weapon, so only the point of the blade can score a valid touch. The target area is the torso (the area covered by the jacket), not including the head or arms. Any touch scored outside of the target area (off-target) is not valid. Foil is also a “right-of-way” weapon, which means:
One fencer makes a threatening move, usually a straight arm toward the other fencer within striking distance. This makes him the attacker and gives his actions priority (right of way). The defender must remove that threat by a block or parry (remove the right of way) before he can counterattack. The counterattack then has right of way until the initial attacker defends himself. The cycle continues until a touch is recorded. The point is awarded by the ‘referee’ in charge of the bout only if: the touch landed on-target and the attacker had right of way

Epee is the modern version of the dueling sword; it is similar to a foil, but it has a stiffer blade, has a larger bell guard, and is heavier. Like foil, epee is a point weapon, but the entire body is a valid target from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. There is no right of way in epee so fencers can score simultaneous touches.

A sabre is the modern version of a cavalry sword and is similar to a foil in length and weight. It is a point weapon and a slashing or cutting weapon; therefore, the side of the blade can make a valid hit. The target area for a sabre is the everything above the waist including the head and arms. Because the hand and arms are valid targets for a cut, the bell guard of the sabre is also curved to protect the fingers. Sabre is also a right-of-way weapon.

Fencing in Gravesham, Kent