Although fencing over the
centuries has changed from a deadly combat to a complex game,
the speed of movement and intricate strategy of duelling are
still very much part of the modern day sport.
Today's is a modern combative
sport. It's a challenge both physically and tactically between
two opponents. A game that's extremely fast requiring both
cunning and a high degree of fitness. Fencing resembles squash
in its athletic demands and approaches chess in its tactical
The object of the game is to
score touches on your opponent. They are scored only when they
land on the target, which is the opponent's torso. Off-target
touches stop the bout but are not scored. Usually the first to
score five touches, wins the bout.
Due to the speed of fencing,
touches are registered electronically. When a valid touch is
scored, on comes a coloured light on the side of the fencer who
made the touch. When a touch is registered off-target, a white
light is shown on the side of the fencer who scored that touch.
The game is played by a system of
priority. To score, you must first obtain priority. The first
fencer to start extending the arm straight, while threatening
his target, has the priority. When two touches are scored at the
same time, regardless of who's touched first, only the fencer
with the priority scores the touch.
When you are attacked, you must
defend or parry the attack. This parry gives you the priority to
hit back, called the riposte. It's this priority system that
gives fencing its sequences of attack and defence is practiced over and over again, so that the
fencer is constantly aware of the changing priority, and can
eventually achieve split-second control of his/her reactions.
With such a well-designed system
of defence, you need more than just physical speed to score
touches. By bluffing and faking, you have to somehow provoke and
deceive this system of defence. You have to fake, to convince
your opponent you intend to attack, and when he/she attempts to
parry, you deceive to score.
Scoring touches in fencing is
more than just a matter of physical speed, its a matter of
tactics. Tactics are based on the fact that every attack can be
parried, but every parry can be deceived! Fencing is a sport
that not only physically taxes the body for split-second control
of attack and defence, but also incorporates tactical cunning,
to fake and mislead, in an attempt to outsmart your opponent.
Tactics are as simple or as complex as each opponent, and those
tactics can change in the course of a bout. It's this
uncertainty that creates the challenge and the excitement of
this combative, modern Olympic sport.
Fencing, a match
of mind and body.
It's a game !
It's a sport !
It's a challenge