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Fencing Glossary



    Absence of blade - Any time when the blades of two competing fencers are not touching; the opposite of engagement.

    Advance - A motion forward by step, cross, or ballestra.

    Aids - The last three fingers of the sword hand which help control direction of the weapon.

    Analysis - In refereeing a bout, the reconstruction of the fencing phrase to determine priority of touches.

    Assault - A friendly bout between two fencers.

    Attack - An offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent.


    Ballestra - A forward hop or jump, which is usually followed by an attack such as a lunge or fleche.

    Bayonet - A type of electrical connector between the foil and sabre.

    Beat - An attempt motion which knocks the opponent's blade aside or out of line.

    Bind - An action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the diagonally opposite line.

    Black card - A referee issued card used to signal the most serious offences in a fencing competition; once issued, the fencer is usually escorted out of the building.

    Bout - An assault in which the score is kept.

    Broken time - A sudden change in the tempo of a fencer's actions, used to lure an opponent into responding at the wrong time.

    Button - The safety tip on the end of a practice weapon, usually made of rubber or hard plastic.


    Commanding the blade - Grabbing or blocking the opponent's blade with the off-hand. The move is illegal in sport fencing but legal in Lancet fencing.

    Compound - An action executed in two or more movements; an attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints.

    Conversation - The back-and-forth interaction between two blades in a fencing match. Theatrical fencing is characterized with abundant conversation.

    Corps-a-corps - Translated as "body-to-body." Term used to describe physical contact between the fencers during a bout. It is illegal in foil and sabre.

    Coule’ - An attack that starts before a stop in play but lands afterwards.

    Counter-attack - An offensive action made against the right-of-way or in response to the opponent's attack.

    Counter-disengage - A disengage in the opposite line of the attack which attempts to deceive the counter-parry.

    Counter-parry - A parry made in the opposite line to the attack.

    Counter-riposte - An attack that follows a parry of the opponent's riposte.

    Counter-time - An attack that responds to the opponent's counter-attack.

    Coup lance' - An attack that starts before a stop in play but lands afterwards.

    Coupe' - An attack or deception that passes around the opponent's tip. Also called a cut-over.

    Croise - An upward or downward beat of one’s weapon which forces the opponent's blade into the high or low line on the same side. Also called a semi-bind.

    Cross - An advance or retreat which is performed by crossing one leg over the other.

    Cut - An attack made with a hard striking motion of the blade.


    Deception - Evading an attack by disengaging to avoid the blades from making contact.

    Direct - An attack or riposte that terminated in the same line in which it was formed.

    Disengage - A clockwise or counter-clockwise circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent's parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of engagement.

    Double - Two attacks that arrive within milliseconds of each other.

    Double-time - When a parry and riposte are performed as two distinct actions.

    Dry - Fencing without electric scoring equipment.


    En Garde - The position assumed by the fencers in preparation for an attack. Also called On Guard.

    Engagement - Any time the blades are in contact during an assault.

    Epee - A fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard. Also one of the three weapons used in modern sport fencing.


    Feint - An act of trickery; To attack into one line with the intention of switching to another line before the attack is completed.

    Fencing time - The time required to complete a single fencing action.

    FIE - Federation Internationale d'Escrime; the governing body of modern sport fencing.

    Fleche - French word for "arrow;"describes an attack in which the attacking fencer advances swiftly from the leading foot with the weapon point in line towards the target and then runs past the opponent.

    Flick - A swift cut-like action that lands with the point. For example, Zoro made three swift flicks to cut a “Z” onto his opponents.

    Foible - The top portion of a blade which is weaker due to the steel not being hardened.

    Foil - A fencing weapon with a rectangular cross-section and a small bell guard. It is one of three weapons used in modern sport fencing.

    Forte - The cutting side of a blade which is manufactured to be stronger than the foible.

    French grip - A traditional hilt with a slightly curved bat-like grip.

    Fuller - The groove carved lengthwise along the blade with the purpose of reducing the weight of the weapon.


    Glide - See Coule.

    Guard - The metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit.


    Hilt - The grip of a sword, consisting of a guard, grip, and pommel.

    Homologated - The term used to describe a piece of equipment that has been certified for use in FIE competitions.


    Indirect - An attack or riposte that terminates in the opposite line in which it was initiated.

    Insistence - Forcing an attack through the parry.

    Invitation - A line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent to attack.


    Judges - Officials who assist the referee in detecting illegal or invalid actions.

    Jury - The four officials who watch for hits in a dry fencing bout.


    Kendo - Traditional Japanese style of fencing.


    Lame' - A metallic vest (foil) or jacket (sabre); part of the electronic scoring equipment used to detect touches.

    Line - The main direction of an attack.

    Lunge - An attack made by stretching the rear leg without moving the rear foot by landing on the heel of the bent front leg with the sword arm extended to quickly close the distance between two fencers.


    Manipulators - The thumb and index finger of the sword hand.

    Match - The combined bouts between two fencing teams.

    Measure - The distance between the fencers.

    Moulinet - A whipping cut, executed from the wrist or elbow.


    Opposition - Holding the opponent's blade away from a threatening line.


    Parry - A defensive measure to block an attack, made with the forte of one’s blade.

    Pass - An attack made with a cross such as a fleche.

    Phrase - A set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.

    Piste - The “playing field” of modern sport fencing. It consists of a linear approximately 2 meters wide and 14m long.

    Pistol Grip - An ergonomic grip shaped like a small hand gun. Pistol grip styles include: Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.

    Plaque’ - An attack where the point does not land straight which causes the blade to bend rather than trigger the electronic scoring equipment.

    Plastron - A partial jacket (sleeve and sword arm chest) worn under the jacket for extra protection.

    Point - A touch made when the tip of the sword makes contact with a valid target. The touch is permissible anytime in epee, but only when right-of-way is obtained in foil and sabre.

    Point in Line - When the weapon arm is extended to threaten the opponent. Also called a line.

    Pommel - A fastener that secures the grip to the blade.

    Preparation - A non-threatening action intended to draw an opening for an attack.

    Presentation - Offering one's blade for engagement by the opponent.

    Press - An attempt to push the opponent's blade out of line.

    Prime - A parry at first position (blade down and to the inside with wrist pronated).

    Priority - In sabre, the rules of right-of-way that govern which fencer is awarded a touch when both attack at the same time. See also Right-of-way.


    Quarte - Parry in the fourth position (blade up and to the inside with wrist supinated).

    Quinte - Parry in the fifth position (blade up and to the inside with wrist pronated); in sabre, the blade is held above the head to protect from downward head cuts.


    Rapier - A long, double-edged thrusting sword made popular in the Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries. Lancet fencing utilizes modern rapiers.

    Red Card - A warning card given out by a referee for repeated minor rule infractions or a single major rule infraction by one of the fencers; results in a point being given to the other fencer.

    Referee - The mediator of the fencing bout. Also called a director.

    Remise - The immediate and swift reattempt of an attack that initially missed or was parried; made without withdrawing the arm.

    Retreat - A step back. The opposite of advance.

    Right-of-way - Rules for awarding the point in the event of a double touch in foil or sabre. See also Priority.

    Riposte - An offensive action made immediately after one parries an opponent's attack.


    Sabre - One of the three weapons of modern sport fencing.

    Salle - Literally, “room;” a fencing hall or club.

    Salute - The customary action used to acknowledge an opponent before and concluding a bout; performed with the weapon hand with the weapon pointed above.

    Second intention - A false action used to draw a response from the opponent to create an opening for attack.

    Seconde - Parry in the second position (blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated).

    Septime - Parry in seventh position (blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated).

    Simple - An attack or riposte performed in one movement.

    Simultaneous - In foil and sabre, two attacks in which the right-of-way is too close to determine.

    Single-time - A parry and riposte in a single action.

    Sixte - Parry in the sixth position (blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated).

    Stop Cut - A stop-hit with the cutting edge in sabre, usually a hit to the cuff.

    Stop Hit - A counter-attack that lands on target


    Three Prong - A type of epee body wire connection assembly.

    Thrust - An attack made by moving the sword forward and landing with the point; can be performed with all three weapons in modern sport fencing.

    Tierce - Parry at the third position (blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated).

    Two Prong - A type of body wire assembly used in foil and sabre.


    Yellow Card - A card displayed by the referee to an offending fencer for minor rule infractions.

Check out this Fencing glossary to find the sport-specific definitions for which you have been looking. From A to Z, we've got all the words covered.
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