Fencing 101

Weapons and Scoring

The foil and Epée are point-thrusting weapons, while the saber is used for both thrusting and cutting actions. The objective is to be the first to score a prescribed number of points. Points are earned by scoring touches.

The Foil – has a flexible, rectangle blade that is approximately 35 inches long and weighs less than a pound. Points are scored when the tip of the blade lands within the opponent’s torso, from the shoulder to the groin, either front or back. Invalid touches include the arms, neck, head or legs. The foil fencer’s metallic vest, called a lame, covers the target area. The foil’s spring-loaded tip is connected to a wire inside the blade. The fencer is equipped with a body cord inside his uniform that is connected to a reel wire, that in turn, is connected to the scoring machine. The scoring machine lights green when a fencer is hit, and lights red when his opponent is hit. A white bulb lights on if an invalid touch is made.

The Epée (pronounced EPP-pay) is the descendant of the dueling sword. It is similar in length to the foil but is heavier, approximately 27 ounces. It has a larger guard and a stiffer blade. Touches are awarded only with the point of the blade, but the entire body is a valid target. 

The epée’s spring-loaded tip sends a charge that lights the bulb on the scoring machine. There is no lamé worn since the entire body is a valid target area. 

The Saber is the contemporary version of the cavalry and is similar in length and weight to the foil. The target area in saber is from the bend of the hips (both front and back), to the top of the head, simulating a soldier on horseback. The saber fencer’s uniform comes with a metallic jacket lame. The scoring machine includes a red and green light, though there is no white light to signal off-target hits.