The history of fencing can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and Japan. Modern swordsmanship became popular in late medieval Europe and is intimately linked with the practice of duelling. By the late 1800s, fencing had become a widely popular and established part of the education of gentlemen. These origins can still be seen today in the rules and conventions of the sport. For example, it is mandatory to salute an opponent before and after a bout.
One of the original sports to be included in the modern Olympic Games, fencing has adapted accordingly throughout the changing fashions while at the same time upholding all of the romance and tradition of its medieval origins. Today, fencing is performed with electrical equipment for the recording of touches and enjoyed by both men and women.
The three weapons used are Foil, Epee and Sabre. Each weapon has its own history, tradition and fencing style. Whilst the aim in each is to hit the opponent without getting hit, the conventions differ. Each weapon possesses its own particular character and personality.
Foil is a point sword providing a reduced target and a ‘priority’ of attack. Foil was based on the court sword, and rules were developed to teach sound sword fighting principles. The target area is the torso excluding the head and arms.
Sabre is a cutting sword using the edge of the blade as well as the tip. Its origins can be traced to the cavalry sword and the naval cutlass. Like foil, right-of-way rules give priority to attacks. The target area is everything from the waist up, excluding the hands.
Epee is a point sword and has the fewest rule constraints. Epee is based on the practice of duelling, where the aim was simply to hit first. The full body is target from head to toe.
Fencing is among the world’s safest sports. Specially designed masks and padded clothing provide the protection required to render the sport suitable for all ages.
For safety reasons, and to ensure everyone enjoys their experience, plastic swords are used to deliver classes to younger children.
In Western Australia you will find an opportunity to participate in fencing as a keen competitor or for its social enjoyment. See the Where to Fence page for information about contacting a club where you can get started.