Saturday, November 4, 2017

Glossary of Modern Fencing Terms

If you need a basic glossary of modern fencing terms for yourself or your class, here it is! Feel free to reprint it, but please include the copyright info. (There's a downloadable PDF attached to the end of this post).

Basic Fencing Terminology
En Guarde
–the “On Guard” stance
Advance –A step forward
Retreat –A step back
Lunge –A “long,” explosive forward action. The principle attacking action
Balestra –A hop forward, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time
Fleche –An “Arrow.” A rapid, flying attack made by pitching the body weight forward leg and launching off the front leg. No longer legal in saber

–A forceful extension of the arm from en guarde to full extension
Cut –The principal attack in Saber. An attack with the edge of the sword
Parry –A “blocking” action against an attack
     Lateral Parry –Blocking an attack by moving the blade from one line to the other
     Circular Parry –Blocking an attack by a circular blade action
     Beat parry –“Tapping” the blade out of the way
Riposte –A return thrust after a parry. Every attack leave the attacker open, a riposte takes advantage of that
Engagement –When the blades meet. It may be a feeling action, or a parry, or the start of a Pris du Fer
Disengage –To escape an engagement by shifting your point to the other side of the opponent’s blade
Coupe –“Cutover” to escape an engagement by cutting over the opponent’s blade
Beat –A versatile “tapping” action against the oppt’s blade. It may be used as a parry, an attack or a feint
Feint –A “False” action designed to get the opponent to open his guard
Invitation –To open your guard to “invite an attack”
Simple Attack –An attack using a simple action in a single tempo of fencing time
Compound Attack –An attack made up of several actions. These include the DoublĂ© and the One-Two
Preparation –The initial actions of a compound attack
Stop-hit –To attack into the opponent’s preparation
Remise –To attempt  to hit your opponent a second time without withdrawing after failing the first time. A remise does not have Right of Way
Pris De Fer –“Taking of the blade.” Any of several kinds of binding controlling actions that move the opponent’s blade. Pris de Fer include the bind, croisĂ©, envelopment, thrust with opposition, etc.

Right of Way
A set of rules used in Foil and Saber. The essence of ROW is that you may not attack an opponent at the when he is attacking you, or leave yourself vulnerable while trying to hit him. If your opponent attacks, you must parry or nullify that attack before hitting back. Epee does not follow right of way. An attack without ROW may occasionally be successful
Tempo –The flexible unit of time that fencing is measured in. A tempo is the time it takes to perform a single, simple action
Lines of Attack –Foil and Epee acknowledge 8 lines of attack, by dividing the torso into quarters, with two lines of attack in each quarter, and two parries in each quarter.
Sentiment De Fer –“Sensitivity for the steel.” A sense of touch with the blade, sensing what the opponent is planning
Distance –Also called Fencing Measure. There is a particular distance from your opponent at which you are best positioned to both attack and defend. It is cultivated through practice. Additionally, some blade actions may require slightly longer distances than others.
Displacement –Moving the torso out of the way of the attack. Usually a retreat, but can be to the side as well.

The Weapons
All weapons have a few parts in common:
The Blade –The part you hit with. Epee and Foil hit exclusively with the point, while saber allows you to cut with the leading edge and upper part of the back edge. The Epee blade is heavier and thicker.
The Guard –The part that protects the hand. The Epee guard is larger than the foil guard (both are round). The Saber guard includes knuckle protection.
The Handle –Also called the “grip.” There are a few different types. Sabers use a straight handle. French foils also use a fairly straight handle. “Orthopedic” handles are more common now for foil and epee, as they give a better grip. There are different types, depending on personal preference. The most common are Belgian, Russian, German and Visconti. Occasionally, you may see an Italian foil, featuring a short handle and two rings, but they are no longer common.
Pommel –The weight at the rear end of the sword. It counterbalances the weapon, and also holds all the parts together. Most orthopedic handles do not have a pommel, but a nut inside the handle to hold it all together.

There Are Three Weapons Used in Modern Fencing:
The Foil
–The most common fencing weapon. Used for thrusting attacks only. Follows the rules of Right of Way. The target is the torso (including groin). Originally a training weapon for the epee, but developed into an art of its own.
The Epee –“The Dueling Sword” Also used only for thrusting attacks. No Right of Way is followed, and the entire body is target. The blade has the same dimensions at those used for duels in the 19th century.
The Saber –Fashioned after the cavalry cutting weapon, it allows attacks with the entire leading edge and upper part of the back edge of the blade.  It follows the rules of right of way, and the target area is all of the body above the waist, including arms and head.

©Jeff Sauber 2017

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