Fencing Terms

A glossary of fencing terms will give you a clear understanding of the various terminologies that are peculiar to fencing.
Absence of blade : Absence de fer.
when the blades are not touching; opposite of engagement.
Advance : Marche.
a movement forward by step, cross, or balestra.
Aids : Aides.
the last three fingers of the sword hand.
Assault : Assaut, Combat.
friendly combat between two fencers.
Attack : Attaque.
the initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent.
Attack au Fer : Attaque au fer
an attack that is prepared by deflecting the opponent's blade, eg. beat, froissement, pressure.
Balestra : Balestra
a forward hop or jump, typically followed by an attack such as a lunge or fleche.
Bayonet : Connecteur à baïonnette
a type of electrical connector for weapons.
Beat : Battement
an attempt to knock the opponent's blade aside or out of line by using one's foible or middle against the opponent's foible.
Bind : Liement
an action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the diagonally opposite line.
Black Card : Carton noir
used to indicate the most serious offences in a fencing competition. The offending fencer is usually expelled from the event or tournament.
Bout : Match
an assault at which the score is kept.
Broadsword : Estramaçon
a military sword and fencing weapon popular in the 18th-19th centuries, similar to a heavy sabre; any straight-bladed, double- edged, single- handed cutting sword of the post-medieval period.
Broken Time : Changement de Rythme
a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer's actions, used to fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time.
Button : Mouche; Bouton
the safety tip on the end of practice swords.
Change of Engagement : Changement d'engagement
engagement of the opponent's blade in the opposite line.
Compound : Attaque composée ou parade composée
also composed; an attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints to the opposite line that the action finishes in.
Conversation : Conversation
the back-and-forth play of the blades in a fencing match, composed of phrases (phrases d'armes) punctuated by gaps of no blade action.
Corps-a-corps : Corps à corps
lit. "body-to-body"; physical contact between the two fencers during a bout, illegal in foil and sabre.
Counter-attack : Contre-attaque
an attack made against the right-of-way, or in response to the opponent's attack.
Counter-disengage : Contre-dégagement
a disengage in the opposite direction, to deceive the counter-parry.
Counter-parry : Contre-parade
a parry made in the opposite line to the attack; ie. the defender first comes around to the opposite side of the opponent's blade.
Counter-riposte : Contre-riposte
an attack that follows a parry of the opponent's riposte.
Counter-time : Contre-temps
an attack that responds to the opponent's counter- attack, typically a riposte following the parry of the counter-attack.
Coulé : Coulé
also graze, glise', or glissade; an attack or feint that slides along the opponent's blade.
Coup lancé : See flick ; "Coup déjà lancé" (Art. 32.2; 46; 47) :
a launched hit; an attack that starts before a stop in play but lands after. Valid for normal halts, but not valid at end of time.
Coupé : Coupé
also cut-over; an attack or deception that passes around the opponent's tip.
Croisé : Croisé
also semi-bind; an action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the high or low line on the same side.
Cross : Passe avant, passe arrière
an advance or retreat by crossing one leg over the other; also passe' avant (forward cross), passe' arriere (backwards cross).
Cut : Coup de taille
an attack made with a chopping motion of the blade, landing with the edge or point.
Deception : Dérobement
avoidance of an attempt to engage the blades; see disengage, coupe'
Derobement : Dérobement
deception of the attack au fer or prise de fer.
Direct : Coup droit
an attack or riposte that finishes in the same line in which it was formed, with no feints out of that line.
Disengage : Dégagement
a circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent's parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of engagement.
Displacement : Esquive
moving the target to avoid an attack; dodging.
Double : Coup double
in epee, two attacks that arrive within 40-50 ms of each other.
Doublé : Doublé
an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle around the opponent's blade, and finishes in the opposite line.
Dry : Fleuret (épée, sabre) mécanique
also steam; fencing without electric scoring aids.
Engagement : Engagement
when the blades are in contact with each other, eg. during a parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule'.
En Garde : En garde
also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that fencers assume when preparing to fence.
Envelopment : Enveloppement
an engagement that sweeps the opponent's blade through a full circle.
Epee : Épée
a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light duelling sword of similar design, popular in the mid-19th century.
False : Fausse attaque
an action that is intended to fail, but draw a predicted reaction from the opponent; also, the back edge of a sabre blade.
Feint : Feinte
attacking into one line with the intention of switching to another line before the attack is completed.
Fencing Time : Temps d'escrime
also temps d'escrime; the time required to complete a single, simple fencing action.
FIE : FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime)
Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.
Finta in tempo : Finta in tempo
lit. "feint in time"; a feint of counter-attack that draws a counter-time parry, which is decieved.
Fleche : Flèche
lit. "arrow"; an attack in which the aggressor leaps off his leading foot, attempts to make the hit, and then passes the opponent at a run.
Flick : Coup lancé, "Bingo"
a cut-like action that lands with the point, often involving some whip of the foible of the blade to "throw" the point around a block or other obstruction.
Florentine : Combat à la florentine
a fencing style where a secondary weapon or other instrument is used in the off hand.
Flying Parry or Riposte :
a parry with a backwards glide and riposte by cut-over.
Foible : Le faible de la lame
the upper, weak part of the blade.
Foil : Fleuret
a fencing weapon with rectangular cross-section blade and a small bell guard; any sword that has been buttoned to render it less dangerous for practice.
Forte : Le fort de la lame
the lower, strong part of the blade.
French Grip : Poignée droite
a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel.
Froissement : Froissement
an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a strong grazing action.
Glide : Coulé
see coule'.
Guard : Coquille
the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit. Also, the defensive position assumed when not attacking.
Hilt : Garde
the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip, and pommel.
Homologated : Homologué
certified for use in FIE competitions, eg. 800N clothing and maraging blades.
In Quartata : In quartata
an attack made with a quarter turn to the inside, concealing the front but exposing the back.
In Time : Coup de temps
when a stop-hit arrives at least one fencing time before the original attack.
Indirect : Attaque indirecte
an attack or riposte that finishes in the opposite line to which it was formed, by means of a disengage or coupe'.
Insistence : Coup droit d'autorité
forcing an attack through the parry.
Interception :
a counter-attack that intercepts and checks an indirect attack or other disengagement.
Invitation : Invite
a line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent to attack.
Italian Grip : Poignée italienne
a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.
Jury : Jury
the 4 officials who watch for hits in a dry fencing bout.
Lamé : Plastron électrique
a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil and sabre.
Line : Ligne
the main direction of an attack (eg., high/low, inside/outside), often equated to the parry that must be made to deflect the attack; also point in line.
Lunge : Fente
an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent front leg.
Mal-parry :
Parade insuffisante
also mal-paré; a parry that fails to prevent the attack from landing.
Manipulators : Manipulateurs
the thumb and index finger of the sword hand.
Maraging : Maraging
a special steel used for making blades; said to be stronger and break more cleanly than conventional steels.
Marker Points :
an old method of detecting hits using inked points.
Martingale : Martingale
a strap that binds the grip to the wrist/forearm.
Match : Match
the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.
Measure : Mesure
the distance between the fencers.
Middle : Milieu de la lame
the middle third of the blade, between foible and forte.
Neuvieme : "Septime haute"
an unconventional parry (#9) sometimes described as blade behind the back, pointing down (a variant of octave), other times similar to elevated sixte.
Octave : Octave
parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Opposition : Opposition
holding the opponent's blade in a non-threatening line; a time- hit; any attack or counter-attack with opposition.
Parry : Parade
a block of the attack, made with the forte of one's own blade.
Pass : Dépassement
an attack made with a cross; eg. fleche, "Russian lunge". Also, the act of moving past the opponent.
Passata-sotto : Passata Sotto
a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.
Passé : Coup passé
an attack that passes the target without hitting; also a cross- step (see cross).
Phrase : Phrases d'armes
a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.
Piste : Piste
the linear strip on which a fencing bout is fought; approx. 2m wide and 14m long.
Pistol Grip : Crosse; poignée orthopédique
a modern, orthopaedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol; varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.
Plaqué : Coup plaqué
a point attack that lands flat.
Plastron : Plastron
a partial jacket worn for extra protection; typically a half- jacket worn under the main jacket on the weapon-arm side of the body.
Point : Touche
a valid touch; the tip of the sword; an attack made with the point (ie. a thrust)
Point in Line : Menace
also line; an extended arm and blade that threatens the opponent.
Pommel : Pommeau
a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.
Preparation : Préparation
the initial phase of an attack, before right-of-way is established.
Presentation :
offering one's blade for engagement by the opponent.
Press : Presser v. pression
an attempt to push the opponent's blade aside or out of line; depending on the opponent's response, the press is followed by a direct or indirect attack.
Prime : Prime
parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.
Principle of Defence : Principe de défense
the use of forte against foible when parrying.
Priority : Priorité
in sabre, the now-superceded rules that decide which fencer will be awarded the touch in the event that they both attack simultaneously; also used synonymously with right-of-way.
Prise de Fer : Prise de fer
also taking the blade; an engagement of the blades that forces the opponent's weapon into a new line. See : bind, croise, envelopment, opposition.
Quarte : Quarte
parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.
Quinte : Quinte
parry #5; blade up and to the inside, wrist pronated. In sabre, the blade is held above the head to protect from head cuts.
Rapier : Rapière
a long, double-edged thrusting sword popular in the 16th- 17th centuries.
Red Card : Carton rouge
used to indicate repeated minor rule infractions or a major rule infraction by one of the fencers; results in a point being given to the other fencer.
Redoublement : Redoublement
a new action that follows an attack that missed or was parried; see also Reprise.
Referee : Arbitre, Président
also director, president; the mediator of the fencing bout.
Remise : Remise
immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried, without withdrawing the arm.
Reprise : Reprise
renewal of an attack that missed or was parried, after a return to en-garde; see also Redoublement.
Retreat : Retraite
step back; opposite of advance.
Right-of-way : Raison, Priorité
rules for awarding the point in the event of a double touch in foil or sabre.
Riposte : Riposte
an attack made immediately after a parry of the opponent's attack.
Sabre : Sabre
a fencing weapon with a flat blade and knuckle guard, used with cutting or thrusting actions; a military sword popular in the 18th to 20th centuries; any cutting sword used by cavalry.
Salle : Salle d'armes
a fencing hall or club.
Salute : Salut
with the weapon, a customary acknowledgement of one's opponent and referee at the start and end of the bout.
Second Intention : Seconde intention
a false action used to draw a response from the opponent, which will open the opportunity for the intended action that follows, typically a counter-riposte.
Seconde : Seconde
parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Septime : Septime
parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.
Simple : Attaque simple
an attack (or riposte) that involves no feints.
Simultaneous : Attaques simultanées
in foil and sabre, two attacks for which the right-of- way is too close to determine.
Single Stick : Canne
a form of fencing with basket-hilted wooden sticks.
Sixte : Sixte
parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Small Sword : Dague
a light duelling sword popular in the 18th century, precursor to the foil.
Stop Hit : Coup d'arrêt
a counter-attack that hits; also a counter-attack whose touch is valid by virtue of it's timing.
Stop Cut : Coup d'arrêt
a stop-hit with the edge in sabre, typically to the cuff.
Three Prong : "Fil de corps épée"
a type of epee body wire/connector; also an old- fashioned tip that would snag clothing, to make it easier to detect hits in the pre-electric era.
Thrown Point : Coup lancé, "bingo"
a "flick".
Thrust : Coup de pointe, coup d'estoc
an attack made by moving the sword parallel to its length and landing with the point.
Tierce : Tierce
parry #3; blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Time Hit : Coup de temps
also time-thrust; old name for stop hit with opposition.
Trompement : Trompement
deception of the parry.
Two Prong : "Fil de corps fleuret / sabre"
a type of body-wire/connector, used in foil and sabre.
Whip-over : Coup fouetté
in sabre, a touch that results from the foible of the blade whipping over the opponent's guard or blade when parried.
Whites : "Tenue"
fencing clothing.
Yellow Card : Carton jaune
also advertissement, warning; used to indicate a minor rule infraction by one of the fencers.