200+ Fencing Terms Explained
When learning to fence, it's hard to enough developing and refining physical technique, let alone remembering fencing terminology.
That's why we at FencerTips have created the largest fencing glossary online so you can brush up on your fencing vocabulary all in one place.
Whether you are brand new to fencing and want to get a sense of the language of fencing, or you need to revise for grade-work, our glossary is here to make the learning process easier.
See our list of over 220 fencing terms and their definitions below.
(A handy tip if you are looking for a particular definition is to use Ctrl or Cmd + F to search the page!)
|Absence of Blade||When swords are not in contact. The opposite of engagement.|
Answer given by a judge when they cannot or are unable to make a judgement on the touch.
|Academic Assault||A display bout.|
|Advance||Forward movement made by the fencer.|
|Advance-lunge||An advance followed right away by a lunge.|
Last three fingers on the fencing hand, used to aid and support when holding a sword.
Command used to start a bout. Allez is French for "go". Said as part of the phrase "En garde! Prêts? Allez! (On guard! Ready? Go!")
The process of assessing the actions within a phrase that preceded a touch or potential touch.
|Angulation||Creating an angle between the sword and the sword arm.|
|Annulment of Hit||
When a touch previously assessed as valid, is reassessed as invalid due to a rule infringement.
Stamping the ball of your foot against the ground to distract or intimidate your opponent.
|Assault||A friendly, non-competitive bout between fencers.|
An offensive action made by threatening the valid target area of the opponent.
|Attack on Preparation||An attack made during an opponent's preparation.|
A warning given to a fencer for a minor rule infringement, usually resulting in a yellow card.
|Avoidance||Ducking or sideways movement to avoid an opponent's attack.|
|Back Edge||The rear edge of a sabre blade, opposite to the cutting edge.|
|Backward Spring||Backwards leap to avoid an opponent's attack.|
|Balestra||Short, fast jump forwards, normally followed by a lunge.|
|Barrage||A tie-breaker bout used between tied fencers.|
|Baudry Point||Safety collar placed around an epee point to prevent penetration.|
A strike to the middle of the opponent's blade to knock it out of line to create an opening. Used as a preparation for an attack.
|Bib||Padded attachment on the mask to protect the throat and neck.|
Taking the opponent's foible with the guard or forte of your own blade into the diagonally opposite line.
The most serious card given to a fencer or third party for the most serious breach of the rules. Results in the fencer being expelled.
|Blade||The main part of the sword, fixed to the hilt.|
Wire that connects the spool cable of the scoring apparatus to the fencer's sword. Worn underneath fencing clothing.
A scored competitive match between two fencers, a scored version of an assault.
|Breaking Ground||Stepping backwards.|
Knee-length protective trousers worn by fencers, fastened on the non-sword arm side.
When an action that would normally be performed in one movement is paused. Used to disrupt tempo and to deceive the opponent.
|Brutality||Actions that are unacceptably violent towards the opponent.|
|Button||Rubber tip on the end of a non-electric fencing sword.|
|Cadence||The tempo or rhythm of a series of movements within a fencing period.|
|Ceding Parry||A parry that gives way to the opponent taking the blade.|
A guard where the hand and sword is between the inside and outside fencing lines.
|Change Beat||Beat made after change of engagement.|
|Change of Engagement||Engagement of the opponent's blade in a new, desired line.|
Hard shield worn underneath fencing clothing to protect a fencer's chest area.
The time taken between the presentation of a new stimulus and the response to that stimulus.
|Circle Beat||A beat preceded by a circular motion.|
A parry preceded by a circular motion with the blade returning to its original position at the start of the action.
Fencing at a close distance, usually judged by fencer's being unable to lunch, but still being able to fence without body contact.
|Commanding the Blade||The illegal grabbing of the opponent's blade with your non-sword hand.|
A number of bouts between individuals or teams which are used to determine the overall winner.
|Compound Actions||Two or more actions performed together in continuous motion.|
|Compound Attack||An attack that includes one or multiple feints.|
|Compound Prises de Fer||Two or more takes of the blade without breaking contact.|
|Compound Riposte||A riposte that includes one or multiple feints.|
|Conventions||The rules that govern the method of fencing with each weapon.|
|Conversation||The back-and-forth of blades within a fencing match.|
|Coquille||The bell-shaped guards on foils and epees.|
|Corps a Corps||Body contact between fencers in a bout.|
Grazing or gliding against the opponent's blade with maintained contact as part of an attack.
|Counter Attack||Offensive action made in response to the opponent's attack.|
|Counter Disengagement||Indirect action that deceives a change of engagement.|
A parry subsequent to the first parry within the same phrase, to counter a riposte or counter-riposte.
|Counter Riposte||A riposte subsequent to the first riposte within the same phrase.|
Attacking to intentionally provide an opportunity for an opponent to counter attack, and then defending that reaction or counter-attacking that counter-attack.
Forcing the opponent's blade into a high or low line on the same side with the forte of the blade.
|Cross over||Advancing by crossing one foot past the other.|
|Cut||An attack made with the edge of the blade, only valid in sabre.|
An indirect action made by passing the blade up and over the point of the opponent's blade.
|Deception||Avoiding an opponent's attempt to engage blades.|
Dealing with an opponent's offensive action by either parrying, retreating or avoidance.
|Delayed||Offensive actions resumed after a pause.|
|Derobement||Evasion of the opponent's attempt to take the blade.|
|Detachment||When engaged blades break contact.|
|Development||Extension of the sword arm, normally followed by a lunge.|
Engaging the opponent's blade and moving it from a high line on one side to the low side on another, and vice versa.
|Direct||Actions made without passing under or over the opponent's blade.|
Competition format where winners move onto the next round and losers are immediately eliminated.
|Disciplinary Code||The rules that govern the behaviour and conduct of fencers.|
Indirect action made by passing the blade over or under the opponent's blade.
|Displacement||Moving the target to avoid an attack. Also known as dodging.|
A consequence of breaking the disciplinary code of conduct or rules of a fencing competition.
|Distance||The space between fencers.|
Compound attack that circles the opponent's blade and finishes in the opposing line.
|Double Action||When fencers begin an offensive action at the same time.|
Both epee competitors have received the same number of hits, and these are the maximum number of hits possible, defeat is recorded for both fencers.
|Double Hits||When both epee fencers score a hit at the same time.|
|Double Prise de Fer||Loss of contact between the first and second prise de fer.|
|Double Time||Parry riposte as two separate actions.|
|Draw||Seeding of competitors to determine bouts.|
|Dry||Also known as 'steam', fencing without electrical or scoring equipment.|
|Duration of Bout||The set time of a bout.|
|Earthing of Guard||
Earthing of electric sword guards so that touches on them do not register as valid.
|Earthing of Piste||Earthing of metal pistes so that touches on them do not register as valid.|
|Elbow Guard||A pad worn optionally on a fencer's sword arm for added protection.|
Electric foils, epees and sabres that can be used with electrical scoring equipment.
Scoring equipment that is placed centrally alongside the piste and registers valid and invalid touches with green and red lights and displays the bout duration.
Command used to start a bout as part of the phrase "En garde! Prêts? Allez! (On guard! Ready? Go!").
|Engagement||When blades are in contact.|
|Envelopment||When an engaged blade takes the opponent's blade in a complete circle.|
One of the three fencing swords, along with foil and sabre. The heaviest of fencing weapons, with a bell guard and a triangular cross-section.
|Extension||Extending the sword arm forwards towards the target.|
|False Attack||An attack that is intended to miss to provoke a reaction from the opponent.|
An offensive movement intended to draw a reaction from the opponent by its likeness to an attack.
The theoretical straight line running through the heels and leading feet of both fencers.
Distance between two fencers whereby they must lunge in order to record a valid touch.
|Fencing Position||The position chosen by a fencer to maintain a guard.|
|Fencing Time||Time required to complete a simple, individual fencing action.|
|FIE||Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.|
|Finger Play||Moving the sword by manipulating the fingers at the grip.|
|Finta in Tempo||
A feint of a counter attack that draws a counter time parry, which is then deceived.
|Flank||Sword-arm side of the body.|
Attack where the fencer leaps off of their leading foot to score a touch, before passing the opponent at running pace.
A touch that involves a cutting action and whipping of the foible of the blade to avoid a defensive action or invalid target.
|Floor Judges||Judges that assist the referee in looking for touches that hit the piste.|
Portmanteau of "flying", "fleche" and "lunge". Unlike a fleche, where you land on your leading leg before passing the opponent, you instead leap towards the opponent to score a touch, landing on your feet at the last moment.
|Flying Parry||Parry with backwards glide.|
The more flexible and bendy upper third part of the blade, furthest away from the hilt or guard and nearer the point.
One of the three fencing swords, along with epee and sabre. Rectangular cross section with a small bell guard.
|Forte||The lower third of the blade, nearest the hilt or guard.|
Recovery from a lunge, by pulling the extended back leg towards the front leg into an en garde position, rather than the opposite.
|French Grip||Mostly straight grip, with a slight curve and pommel.|
|Froissement||Attack that displaces the opponent's blade with a strong grazing action.|
|Fuller||The groove in the middle of a blade for weight reduction.|
|Gaining Ground||Advancing forwards towards your opponent.|
|Grip||The handle of the sword.|
|Guard||The metal bell or shield that protects the sword-hand from the opponent.|
The 8 fencing positions (prime, seconde, tierce, quarte, quinte, sixte, seconde, octave).
|Halt||Order spoken by the referee of the bout to tell both fencers to stop fencing.|
The area above the theoretical horizontal line drawn across the opponent's middle.
|Hilt||The parts of the sword excluding the blade.|
To touch the opponent clearly in a thrusting action with the point of the sword, or with the edge of the sword in sabre.
|Immediate||Action made without pause.|
|In Time||Minimum one fencing time before an opposing action.|
Closed distance fencing, where the fencer must pull the sword back in order to hit the opponent's valid target area.
Competition system that determines the seeding of fencers. First indicator is a ratio of victories to fights and second indicator is touches scored minus touches received.
|Indirect||Offensive action that first passes over or under the opponent's blade.|
|Inside||Direction to the front of the body.|
|Insistence||Forcing an attack through an opponent's defensive action.|
|Interception||Counter attack that intercepts a disengagement.|
|Invitation||A deliberate opening of the target to provoke the opponent to attack.|
Officials that assist the referee in judging the bout. These can have specialist roles, such as hand or floor judging.
|Jury||Non-electric fencing officials that watch for touches in non-wired bouts.|
Metallic jacket worn over the white fencing jacket that allows for valid touches to be registered. The lamé target differs according to the rules of each weapon.
|Lines||Main direction of the attack. Can be inside or outside, or high or low.|
Target below the theoretical horizontal line drawn across the opponent's middle.
Extension of the sword arm followed by simultaneous extension of the rear leg and forward movement, before landing on the bent front leg.
|Mal Parry||Parry that fails to stop an offensive action from landing.|
Glove worn by sabreurs on their sword hand so hits on the wrist can be registered on scoring equipment.
Thumb and index finger of the sword hand, the primary manipulators of the blade.
The durable steel used for making blades in competition and elite-level fencing.
Loop attached to a non-electric foil to assist in retaining the weapon in the event of disarmament.
The head protection worn by fencers, conventionally a wire mesh dome to cover the head, with a lower attachment of soft material to protect the neck.
|Match||Aggregate of bouts between fencing teams.|
Conductive flooring so that floor hits do not register as valid on scoring equipment.
|Moulinet||A circular cut in sabre.|
Behind the back downward-pointing parry to defend the back against an overtaking opponent.
|Octave||Guard - Blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.|
|One-two Attack||Compound attack of two disengagements in order to deceive a parry.|
Starting an action with no knowledge or planning and reacting to subsequent events to encourage a positive conclusion.
|Opposition||Holding the opponent's blade in a non-threatening line of engagement.|
|Orthopaedic Grip||Molded grips that contour to the fencer's hand.|
A defensive action to block an attack using the forte of the blade to push and engage the opponent's blade.
Method of teaching whereby constituent parts of a movement are taught then combined into the whole movement.
Backwards movement where the front foot moves past the rear foot, and the original rear foot moves backwards into the en garde stance.
Forwards movement where the rear foot moves past the front foot, and the original front foot moves forwards into the en garde stance.
|Passata-sotto||Lunge where one hand is dropped to the floor.|
|Passe||Attack that passes the target without touching.|
Step forward with the back foot appelling as the front foot lands. Intended to distract or intimidate the opponent.
|Phrase||Set of related actions and reactions within a conversation.|
|Piste||The strip of floor on which the bout is conducted.|
|Pistol Grip||An orthopaedic grip with many variants for enhanced control of the blade.|
|Plaque||A point attack that lands flat and does not register a touch.|
An underarm protector warn underneath a fencing jacket for additional protection on the sword arm side.
|Point||The tip of a blade.|
|Point-in-line||A threat made by extending the sword arm.|
|Pointe d'arret||The spring loaded component of an electric fencing sword.|
A fastener fixed to the sword grip to connect the grip and guard to the blade tang.
|Pommeling||Gripping a weapon closer to the pommel to gain a reach advantage.|
|Pool (Poule)||A group of fencers or fencing teams in a competition setting.|
|Preparation of Attack||
An action that precedes an attack, including actions against the opponent's blade, and in foil and sabre, an action that precedes the change of right of way.
|Presentation||Offering the blade for engagement by the opponent.|
|Press||A push on the opponent's blade out of the line of engagement.|
Command used to start a bout as part of the phrase "En garde! Prêts? Allez! (On guard! Ready? Go!").
|Prime||Guard - Blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.|
|Principle of Defence||Use of forte against foible during a parry.|
|Priority||The rules that decide right of way for foil and sabre.|
|Prises De Fer||An engagement with the intention to control the opponent's blade.|
Actions made with the sword continually moving towards the valid target area.
|Pronation||The position of the sword hand, with knuckles facing up.|
|Quarte||Guard - Blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.|
|Quinte||Guard - Blade up and to the inside, wrist pronated.|
|Rassemblement||Bringing of feet together, with heels touching, feet at a right angle.|
|Recovery||A movement to return the fencer to the en garde position.|
Given for repeated minor rule breaches, or one major rule breach. Results in a point being awarded to the opponent.
An offensive indirect or compound action made following an intial offensive action.
|Referee||The mediator and core judge of the bout.|
Continuation of an initial attack that did not connect without withdrawing the arm.
|Renewal||Can be one of three types: Remise, Redoublement or Reprise.|
A means of giving losers of a direct elimination competition a chance to stay in the competition.
|Reprise||Continuation of a lunge attack by returning to guard forwards or backwards.|
|Retreat||Basic backwards movement.|
|Right of Way||
Gained by the fencer in foil and sabre by extending the arm and threatening the target.
|Riposte||An offensive action that follows a parry of an opponent's attack.|
One of the three fencing swords, along with foil and epee. Attacks are made with cutting or thruting actions, with a distinct knuckle or hand guard to protect the fencer's hand.
|Salle||A fencing hall or club.|
|Salut Des Armes||
A choreographed, ceremonial demonstration of fencing technique and movements.
An action performed with the blade before beginning a lesson, assault or bout to indicate respect for your opponent or your instructor.
|Second Intention||False action to provoke a response from the opponent.|
|Seconde||Guard - Blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated|
|Semicircular Parry||Parry that moves from the high line to low, and vice versa.|
|Septime||Guard - Blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.|
|Simple Attack||A direct offensive movement without pauses or feints.|
|Simultaneous Attack||In foil and sabre, where it is not possible to determine right of way.|
|Sixte||Guard - Blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.|
The housing of the extendable and retractable wire that connects the fencer to the electric scoring equipment.
|Steam||Fencing without scoring aids, also known as "Dry" fencing.|
|Stop Hit||A counter attacking touch that is valid.|
|Strip||Another name for Piste.|
|Successive Parries||Multiple successive parries that defend against an opponent's attacks.|
|Supination||Position of the sword hand with the fingernails facing upwards.|
|Tang||Part of the blade connected to the hilt.|
|Target Area||The area for each sword where valid touches may be recorded.|
|Third Intention||Two or more actions intended to deceive the opponent.|
Attack made by pushing the point towards the opponent with the blade parallel to the floor.
|Tierce||Guard - Blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.|
|Touché||Spoken by the referee to announce that a touch has been seen or recorded.|
|Volt||A leap made to avoid an opponent's offensive thrust.|
A touch made in sabre where the foible whips over the opponent's guard or blade when parried.
A warning given to a fencer for a minor rule infringement, usually resulting in a yellow card.
Maintaining contact with the opponent's blade and shifting the point of contact to one that is more favourable, for example moving from connecting with the foible to the forte.
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