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Sport of Fencing

Fencing. London Olympics. Aida Shanaeva
London 2012 Olympic foil comand contest
Aida Shanaeva of Russian team "stabs" her Italian opponent
Photo by Alex Groundwater from his page in "Flickr"
Reprinting by the author's permission



Русская версия


Old fencing training.


Foil


Epee


Sabre




Russian sarbe player Sofia Velikaya, gold medalist of the World University Games in Izmir. 2005
University sports.




Wheelchair fencers battle it out for the women's individual epee as the fencing competition in Athens Paralympics, 2004.
BBC Sport




Sada Jacobson, left, from the USA lunges at Ilaria Bianco from Italy during the women's sabre quarter final of the 2005 Fencing World Championships.
Yahoo Sports.

In the broadest possible sense, fencing is the art and science of armed combat involving cutting, stabbing or bludgeoning weapons directly manipulated by hand, rather than shot or thrown (in other words, swords, knives, pikes, bayonets, batons, clubs, rapiers, sabres, and so on). In contemporary common usage, fencing tends to refer specifically to European schools of swordsmanship and to the modern Olympic sport that has evolved out of them. Sport fencing is a sophisticated combative form, which is dramatic, passionate and often described as a physical chess match.

Athens Olympics (2004)



France's Maureen Nisima, right, scores a point on Canada's Sherraine McKay during the bronze medal bout of the women's team epee competition. France defeated Canada 45 - 37 for the bronze. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
CTV




Hungary's Nagy Timea (right) beat France's Laura Flessel-Colovic to win the women's individual epee final. Englidh People




Battle for the gold in sabre. USA's Mariel Zagunis (right) against Xue Tan (China).
Island Fencing Academy




Germany's Claudia Bokel, left, scores a point on Russia's Tatiana Logunova during the gold medal bout of the women's team epee competition. Russia defeated Germany in the bout.
Salt Lake Tribune. Photo by Michael Conroy/The Associated Press.




France's Laura Flessel-Colovic, left, lunges at Russia's Tatiana Logounova during the women's individual epee bronze medal.
Canoe




Italy's Valentina Vezzali (right) against Poland's Sylwia Gruchala in the semi-final foil competition.
Oxford fencing




Russian epee team - Olymplic champion (Acting team memebers: Tatiana Logunova, Oksana Ermakova and Anna Sivkova).
NewsRu

Fencing can be traced back thousands of years; it has a long and glorious history, dating back to the time when an unknown barbarian found a way to make a longer knife so he would have an easier time killing people. The sword took many forms over time, from the short Roman gladius to the massive two-handed Scottish claymore. Eventually, as the world became more civilized and the technology of killing people became more advanced, the sword lost most of its military significance and became a more private method of settling disputes between noblemen, as dueling became popular. Eventually, since nobles were not anymore fond of dying than ordinary foot soldiers, they developed rules to limit the number of fatalities in fencing duels, and sport fencing, as we know it began to emerge

Definitely, fencing sport is the most exquisite combative sport; unlike other ones, it involves no punches, kicks, grips and no body contacts at all. Being a real combative sport, it does not require brute force and harsh moves. That's why fencing was actually the only combative sport open to women until the latter part of the twentieth century. Women handling plain weapon were known through centuries - warriors, fencers and duelists. As to the official sport of fencing, female athletes were however restricted to competing with the lightest type of weapon, the foil, until the 1970's when women began campaigning to use heavier kinds of swords.

Fencing is one of only four sports that have been featured at every modern Olympic Games. It was the first to include recognized professionals in a medals competition after modern Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin arranged special events for professional fencing "masters" in the original 1896 and 1900 competitions. The first few years of fencing as a sport were chaotic, with important rule disagreements among schools of fencing from different countries, notably the representatives of the French and Italian schools. This state of affairs ended in 1913, with the foundation of the Fйdйration Internationale d'Escrime (FIE - International Fencing Federation) in Paris. The stated purpose of the FIE is to codify and regulate the practice of the sport of fencing, particularly for the purpose of international competition. The foundation of the FIE is a convenient breaking point between the classical and the modern traditions of fencing. The women's foil competition has been on the Olympic program since 1924. For many years, women fenced only with foils; the epee was added to the Olympic program in 1996 and the sabre - in 2004. There are very few specific terms for women; one of them requires all female fencers to wear breast protectors.

Three types of fencing weapons - the foil, epee and sabre - are used at the Olympic Games. Bouts are held on a 14-metre by 1.5-metre "piste", or playing area. Through wires and special clothing, fencers are connected to an electronic scoring system that indicates if a hit has occurred.

There are different sets of rules for the three weapons, reflecting the differences in technique that grew out of their historical background. In foils and epee, a touch can be made only with the point of the weapon. In sabre fencing, a hit may be made with the point, the cutting edge, or the forward third of the back edge. The entire body is a valid target for the epee, but in foils and sabre a touch can be scored only on a limited target area.

Fencing is a difficult sport to judge, since it's necessary to determine, first, whether a hit was made and, second, which came first when the two fencers score hits almost simultaneously. The electrical epee was introduced at the 1936 to score hits automatically. Electrical scoring for the foil was added at the 1956 Olympics and for the sabre at the 1992 Olympics.

There are two forms of fencing competitions - individual and team. Teams consist of three fencers, and each duels each member of the opposing team. Fencing is also a part of modern pentathlon

Fencing is an official sport of the Paralympic Games (Olympic competitions for disabled people). Events are contested only for wheelchair users.

The modern foil is descended from the training weapon for the small-sword, the common sidearm of the eighteenth-century gentleman. However, it has long since been altered to be similar in length to the йpйe (averaging 35" or 890 mm). It is a light weapon, with a tapered, flexible, quadrangular blade, that scores only with the point. In modern sport fencing, which makes use of electrical scoring apparatus, one must hit the opponent with the tip of the blade, with a force of at least 500 grams-force.

The valid target area at foil is limited, due to its origins in a time when fencing was practised with limited safety equipment. Hits to the face were dangerous, so the head was removed from valid target. The target was then further reduced to only the trunk of the body, where the vitals are located. A touch which lands on an invalid target stops the bout, but no point is scored.

Foil is often seen as the most "mental" of the three weapons. Its limited target area makes it difficult for the attacking fencer to score, so complicated attacks (or defenses against the same) must often be planned well in advance of the attack's actual delivery. Thus, many people compare foil fencing (or fencing generally) to a sort of physical chess match.

The modern epee is the closest weapon to an actual classical duelling weapon that is used in modern fencing, descended from the French duelling sword of the 19th and 20th centuries. The йpйe is a long, straight and relatively heavy sword as compared to the foil, with a triangular or V-shaped, less flexible blade and a large, round, bell-shaped guard. Like the foil, the йpйe is a point weapon - the reason for the large guard is that the hand is a valid target, as is the rest of the body.

Double-touches are a possibility and there is no right-of-way. In electric fencing, in order for a point to register, one must hit the opponent with the point, registering at least 7.35 newtons (750 grams-force) of force.

The modern sabre is descended from the classical northern Italian duelling sabre, a far lighter weapon than the cavalry sabre. The method and practice of sabre fencing is somewhat different from the other weapons, in that the sabre is an edged weapon. In modern electric scoring, a touch with the sabre, point, flat or edge, to any part of the opponent's valid target will register a hit. The target area is from the waist up excluding the hands.

There are several fencing forms different from Olympic sport of fencing, such as historical and classical fencing. Historical fencing is a type of reconstruction of historical martial arts and warrioor traditions based on the work of historical texts and traditions. Classical fencing is a sort of the historical one. Enthusiasts of the historical fencing more care about precise reconstruction of all historical details (including weapons, armor, attire) rather than a martial art, whereas classical fencing practicioners consider it as a martial art above all and concentrate on physical and technica; training.

Three types of weapon are used in Olympic fencing: the foil, epee and sabre.
Point scoring varies from weapon to weapon but all 10 fencing competitions use a knock-out format. Individual fencing bouts last for three rounds of three minutes each, or until one fencer has scored 15 hits against their opponent. In the team events, teams of three fencers compete against their opponents over a series of nine bouts, with the aim of accumulating a maximum of 45 hits. Between 1932 and 1960, Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich won a phenomenal six consecutive gold medals - a feat no other Olympian has managed.

As for any other sport, women colors sport fencing, which is somehow related to impromptu dancing. Fencing women look as graceful as dancers.



Medalists of Athens Olympics in 2004


Foil


Epee


Sabre


Valentina
Vezzali
(Italy)


Giovanna
Trillini
(Italy)


Sylwia
Gruchala
(Poland)


Timea
Nagy
(Hungary)


Laura
Flessel-Colovic
(France)


Maureen
Nisima
(France)


Mariel
Zagunis
(USA)


Xue
Tan
(China)


Sada
Jacobson
(USA)


Photos from London 2012 Olympics made by Alex Groundwater
Reprinted from his page in "Flickr" with the author's permission

Female foil contests


Final bout between Aida Shanaeva and Elisa DiFrancisca. DiFransisca won gold.



Larisa Korobeynikova of Russia fences against an Italian in the team competition.



Ina Deriglazova of Russia fences against an Italian in the team competition.


Videoclip: London's Paralympics, 2012. Wheelchair Fencing
Team tournament in the Open category: Hong Kong vs China.


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