Rules of Fencing | How it is Played?

If you have seen movies depicting ancient fights, you must have glimpses of this game. Two fighters from each side trying to get their head chopped off with the help of a sword, their moves are so fast that even a blink of an eye can cost you your life.

Rules of Fencing

I didn’t mean to scare you, and you shouldn’t be because Fencing is fought with a less sharp sword barely capable of causing any harm to any of your body parts. Fencing has a long history and it is one of those 5 sports which have featured in every modern Olympic game.

Surprisingly, it maintains an elitist reputation in the UK, despite the fact it looks more like a game driven from Chinese Kung Fu or Karate. In the Olympics, it is known as Olympics fencing, the Olympics fencing is slightly different from the older version.

Object of the Fencing

The object of the game is to hit your opponent with your weapon and protect yourself from being hit. Every hit gives you a point and in the end the player with the most number of points is declared winner.

How to Play?

Fencing is an ancient sport in which two players fight each other not physically but with the help of swords. Players earn points by hitting the permitted areas of the body with the given weapon.

There are three different disciplines of fencing and it varies from discipline to discipline which part of the sword can be used to hit what areas of the body.

Moreover, swords used in each discipline are also different from others. Find out more about it in the rules discussed below.

General Rules of Fencing

  • Both fencers must salute each other at the beginning and end of the bout, if you don’t abide, you lose a point.
  • Points are scored by hitting your opponent in accordance with the requirements of the weapon in your hand.
  • Baring the opponent from hitting your target by covering the area with any means can lead to a points penalty, whatever the referee decides.
  • If two opponents hit together in the target area, then only the first to hit will get a point.
  • Today, modern technology is used to keep the game fair. Once a player hits his opponent in the strike zone, a light of certain colour is illuminated and thus, judges give points without any ambiguity.

Time Duration of Fencing

The game of Fencing is played in 3 bouts, each of 9 minutes.

Playing Field

The playing field is called “Piste”. A Piste is 46 feet long and 6 feet wide. It has a center line with on-guard lines stretched six feet across the width of the piste.

Playing Equipment

The most important piece of equipment required for Fencing it the weapon itself which is used to strike your opponent. There are three kinds of weapons used:

  • Epee: the heaviest sword,
  • The foil: which is a lighter thrusting weapon,
  • Sabre: Sabre is derived from the Cavalry sword.

Fencers wear different protective attire to minimise any such chances of injury. These equipment are usually a mask, helmet and gloves. Pads can also be worn in sensitive parts of the body if a player wishes to.

3 Different Disciplines of Fencing

The game of Fencing has three different forms.

Foil: The foil is fought with a foil weapon mentioned above, and the target area in this discipline is anywhere on the torso or back. Points are scored by hitting with the tip of the weapon, the side blade can’t be used.

Sabre: Sabre is fought with a weapon with the same name, the target area in this game is anywhere above waste. In sabre, fencers can use both tips and side blades.

Epee: Epee is the biggest and heaviest of three swords. In this form of the Fencing, you can target the entire body of your opponent. In Epee, only the tip of the sword can be used to hit your opponent.


A Fencing referee is supposed to maintain order in the game, make sure players don’t hit each other on sensitive parts of the body and in case of foul, he can take points from the players. Also, the referee is called the director and he has 1½ votes, so he can overrule one judge, but can’t out vote both judges.


The role of judges is to determine the validity of touches. The judges panel consists of 4 judges who make the call.

Famous Fencing Events

Perhaps the most followed and famous event of Fencing is the Olympics where separate contests are held for all 3 disciplines of Fencing.

Moreover, the World Fencing Championship is held every year under the banner of the international governing body. Here too, all 3 disciplines of Fencing are practiced.

Governing Body

The Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (English: International Fencing Federation), commonly known by the acronym FIE is the governing body for the sport. The federation is composed of 157 national federations belonging to different countries. The current headquarters of the federation are located in Switzerland.