Fencing Glossary and Terminology

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!)

Fencing Glossary

Fencing Term

Definition

Absence of Blade When swords are not in contact. The opposite of engagement.
Abstain
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.
Aids
Last three fingers on the fencing hand, used to aid and support when holding a sword.
Allez!
Command used to start a bout. Allez is French for "go". Said as part of the phrase "En garde! PrĂȘts? Allez! (On guard! Ready? Go!")
Analysis
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.
Appel
Stamping the ball of your foot against the ground to distract or intimidate your opponent.
Assault A friendly, non-competitive bout between fencers.
Attack
An offensive action made by threatening the valid target area of the opponent.
Attack on Preparation An attack made during an opponent's preparation.
Avertissement
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.
Beat
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.
Bind
Taking the opponent's foible with the guard or forte of your own blade into the diagonally opposite line.
Black Card
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.
Body Wire
Wire that connects the spool cable of the scoring apparatus to the fencer's sword. Worn underneath fencing clothing.
Bout
A scored competitive match between two fencers, a scored version of an assault.
Breaking Ground Stepping backwards.
Breeches
Knee-length protective trousers worn by fencers, fastened on the non-sword arm side.
Broken Time
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.
Central Guard
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.
Chest Protector
Hard shield worn underneath fencing clothing to protect a fencer's chest area.
Choice Reaction
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.
Circular Parry
A parry preceded by a circular motion with the blade returning to its original position at the start of the action.
Close Quarters
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.
Competition
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.
Coule (Glide/Graze)
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.
Counter Parry
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.
Counter Time
Attacking to intentionally provide an opportunity for an opponent to counter attack, and then defending that reaction or counter-attacking that counter-attack.
Croise
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.
Cut-over (Coupe)
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.
Defence
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.
Diagonal Parry
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.
Direct Elimination
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.
Disengagement
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.
Disqualification
A consequence of breaking the disciplinary code of conduct or rules of a fencing competition.
Distance The space between fencers.
Doublé
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.
Double Defeat
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 Weapons
Electric foils, epees and sabres that can be used with electrical scoring equipment.
Electrical apparatus
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.
En Garde
Command used to start a bout as part of the phrase "En garde! PrĂȘts? 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.
Epee
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.
Feint
An offensive movement intended to draw a reaction from the opponent by its likeness to an attack.
Fencing Line
The theoretical straight line running through the heels and leading feet of both fencers.
Fencing Measure
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.
Fleche
Attack where the fencer leaps off of their leading foot to score a touch, before passing the opponent at running pace.
Flick
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.
Flunge
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.
Foible
The more flexible and bendy upper third part of the blade, furthest away from the hilt or guard and nearer the point.
Foil
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.
Forward Recovery
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.
Guards
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.
High Line
The area above the theoretical horizontal line drawn across the opponent's middle.
Hilt The parts of the sword excluding the blade.
Hit
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.
In-fighting
Closed distance fencing, where the fencer must pull the sword back in order to hit the opponent's valid target area.
indicators
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.
Judges
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.
Lamé
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.
Low Lines
Target below the theoretical horizontal line drawn across the opponent's middle.
Lunge
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.
Manchette
Glove worn by sabreurs on their sword hand so hits on the wrist can be registered on scoring equipment.
Manipulators
Thumb and index finger of the sword hand, the primary manipulators of the blade.
Maraging Steel
The durable steel used for making blades in competition and elite-level fencing.
Martingale
Loop attached to a non-electric foil to assist in retaining the weapon in the event of disarmament.
Mask
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.
Metallic Piste
Conductive flooring so that floor hits do not register as valid on scoring equipment.
Moulinet A circular cut in sabre.
Neuvieme
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.
Open Eyes
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.
Parry
A defensive action to block an attack using the forte of the blade to push and engage the opponent's blade.
Part-whole
Method of teaching whereby constituent parts of a movement are taught then combined into the whole movement.
Pass-backwards
Backwards movement where the front foot moves past the rear foot, and the original rear foot moves backwards into the en garde stance.
Pass-forwards
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.
Patinando
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.
Plastron
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.
Pommel
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.
PrĂȘts
Command used to start a bout as part of the phrase "En garde! PrĂȘts? 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.
Progressive Actions
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.
Red Card
Given for repeated minor rule breaches, or one major rule breach. Results in a point being awarded to the opponent.
Redoublement
An offensive indirect or compound action made following an intial offensive action.
Referee The mediator and core judge of the bout.
Remise
Continuation of an initial attack that did not connect without withdrawing the arm.
Renewal Can be one of three types: Remise, Redoublement or Reprise.
Repechage
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.
Sabre
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.
Salute
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.
Spools
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.
Thrust
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.
Whip-over
A touch made in sabre where the foible whips over the opponent's guard or blade when parried.
Yellow Card
A warning given to a fencer for a minor rule infringement, usually resulting in a yellow card.
Yielding Parry
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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