Aim of the game
A form of combat sport between two fencers in which the aim is to land blows on the opponent’s target area body with a blunt-ended blade as many times as possible during a match
Why should you watch this?
The artistry of real-life duels brings a taste of medieval combat to the Games, with the top athletes deploying rapid, precision moves that can be almost too quick for the human eye
Footwork move comprising a jump towards the adversary
Rapid attack to surprise the opponent
The referee’s words to start the bout
Impress your friends
Fencing originated from epée fights and became a sport in the fifteenth century, when duels were bloody and occasionally fatal
It is one of the longest-running sports in the Olympics, and has featured in the programme since the Athens 1896 Games, the first of the Modern Olympic Era
At Tokyo 1964, Hungary’s Ildiko Ujlaki-Rejto won two gold medals, a feat all the more remarkable because she was born deaf and learned to fence by reading instructions
At the London 2012, Venezuelan Rubén Limardo won South America’s first fencing gold, and was rewarded with a replica of Simon Bolivar’s epée
Italian Nedo Nadi is the only fencer in over 100 years of Olympic history to win gold in all three disciplines at the same Games, in Antwerp in 1920
Hungary’s Aladár Gerevich is the record-holder for Olympic fencing gold medals, winning seven between 1932 and 1960
Fencing was one of the sports practised by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Era of the Olympic Games
Before the electronic scoring system was introduced, predominantly white clothing, still a feature of Olympic fencing, was used to confirm when points were landed
Fencers must greet each other before every bout, and a failure to do so can lead to disqualification
- 110 cm, 770 g
- Rigid and heavy
- A point is scored when the tip touches any part of the opponent’s body
- 90 cm, 500 g
- Lightweight blade
- A point is scored when the tip touches the opponent’s torso or groin
- 88 cm, 500 g
- Shorter, more flexible blade, allowing very swift moves
- A point is scored when the opponent is hit above the belt
An automated scoring system is connected to the tip of each fencer’s weapon and detects when the opponent is touched in a valid area. As soon as contact is made, a red or green light comes on to clarify who scored the point, and if both light up at the same time, the referee’s decision is final. A white light indicates invalid contact, and no point is scored.
Individual bouts consist of three 3-minute rounds, or until one of the competitors scores 15 points. Team competitions last nine 3-minute rounds, or until one of the teams scores 45 points.
Fencers move on a metal piste 14m long and 1.5m-2m wide.
Fencers must wear masks, gloves and impenetrable body protection