States Fencing Coaches Association
Académie Royale d'Armes de Belgique
Absence of blade: when the blades are not touching; opposite of engagement.
Advance: a movement forward by step, cross, or balestra.
Aids: the last three fingers of the sword hand.
Analysis: reconstruction of the fencing phrase to determine priority of
Assault: friendly combat between two fencers.
Attack: the initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and
continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent.
Attack au Fer: an attack that is prepared by deflecting the opponent's
blade, eg. beat, press, froissement.
Backsword: an archaic, edged, unpointed sword used in prizefighting; also
Balestra: a forward hop or jump, typically followed by an attack such as a
lunge or fleche.
Bayonet: a type of electrical connector for foil and sabre.
Beat: 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.
Baudry point: a safety collar placed around a live epee point to prevent
Bind: an action in which the opponent's blade is forced into the diagonally
Black Card: used to indicate the most serious offences in a fencing
competition. The offending fencer is usually expelled from the event or
Bout: an assault at which the score is kept.
Broadsword: any sword intended for cutting instead of thrusting; sabre.
Broken Time: a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer's actions, used to
fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time.
Button: the safety tip on the end of practice and sporting swords.
Change of Engagement: engagement of the opponent's blade in the opposite
Commanding the blade: grabbing the opponent's blade with the off-hand,
illegal in sport fencing.
Compound: also composed; an action executed in two or more movements; an
attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints.
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.
Counter-attack: an offensive action made against the right-of-way, or in
response to the opponent's attack.
Counter-disengage: a disengage in the opposite direction, to deceive the
Counter-parry: 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: an attack that follows a parry of the opponent's riposte.
Counter-time: an attack that responds to the opponent's counter-attack,
typically a riposte following the parry of the counter-attack.
Corps-a-corps: lit. "body-to-body"; physical contact between the two fencers
during a bout, illegal in foil and sabre.
Coule': also graze, glise', or glissade; an attack or feint that slides
along the opponent's blade.
Coup lance': 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.
Coupe': also cut-over; an attack or deception that passes around the
Croise: also semi-bind; an action in which the opponent's blade is forced
into the high or low line on the same side.
Cross: an advance or retreat by crossing one leg over the other; also passe'
avant (forward cross), passe' arriere (backwards cross).
Cut: an attack made with a chopping motion of the blade, normally landing
with the edge.
Deception: avoidance of an attempt to engage the blades; see disengage,
Derobement: deception of the attack au fer or prise de fer.
Direct: a simple attack or riposte that finishes in the same line in which
it was formed, with no feints out of that line.
Disengage: a circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent's
parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of
Displacement: moving the target to avoid an attack; dodging.
Double: in epee, two attacks that arrive within 40-50 ms of each other.
Double-time: also "dui tempo"; parry-riposte as two distinct actions.
Double': an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle around the
opponent's blade, and finishes in the opposite line.
Dry: also steam; fencing without electric judging aids.
Engagement: when the blades are in contact with each other, eg. during a
parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule'.
En Garde: also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that fencers
assume when preparing to fence.
Envelopment: an engagement that sweeps the opponent's blade through a full
Epee: 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; epee de terrain; duelling sword.
False: an action that is intended to fail, but draw a predicted reaction
from the opponent; also, the back edge of a sabre blade.
Feint: an attack into one line with the intention of switching to another
line before the attack is completed.
Fencing Time: also temps d'escrime; the time required to complete a single,
simple fencing action.
FIE: Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the world governing body of
Finta in tempo: lit. "feint in time"; a feint of counter-attack that draws a
counter-time parry, which is decieved; a compound counter-attack.
Fleche: 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: 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
Florentine: an antiquated 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
Foible: the upper, weak part of the blade.
Foil: 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
Forte: the lower, strong part of the blade.
French Grip: A traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large
Froissement: an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a strong
Fuller: the groove that runs down a sword blade to reduce weight.
Glide: see coule'.
Guard: the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit. Also, the
defensive position assumed when not attacking.
Hilt: the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip, and pommel.
Homologated: certified for use in FIE competitions, eg. 800N clothing and
In Quartata: a counter-attack made with a quarter turn to the inside,
concealing the front but exposing the back.
In Time: at least one fencing time before the opposing action, especially
with regards to a stop-hit.
Indirect: a simple attack or riposte that finishes in the opposite line to
which it was formed.
Insistence: forcing an attack through the parry.
Interception: a counter-attack that intercepts and checks an indirect attack
or other disengagement.
Invitation: a line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent
Italian Grip: a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.
Judges: additional officials who assist the referee in detecting illegal or
invalid actions, such as floor judges or hand judges.
Jury: the 4 officials who watch for hits in a dry fencing bout.
Kendo: Japanese fencing, with two-handed swords.
Lame': a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil and sabre.
Line: 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
Lunge: an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent
Mal-parry: also mal-pare'; a parry that fails to prevent the attack from
Manipulators: the thumb and index finger of the sword hand.
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: a strap that binds the grip to the wrist/forearm.
Match: the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.
Measure: the distance between the fencers.
Middle: the middle third of the blade, between foible and forte.
Moulinet: a whirling cut, executed from the wrist or elbow.
Neuvieme: an unconventional parry (#9) sometimes described as blade behind
the back, pointing down (a variant of octave), other times similar to
Octave: parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.
pposition: holding the opponent's blade in a non-threatening line; a
time-hit; any attack or counter-attack with opposition.
Parry: a block of the attack, made with the forte of one's own blade; also
Pass: an attack made with a cross; eg. fleche. Also, the act of moving past
Passata-sotto: a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.
Passe': an attack that passes the target without hitting; also a cross-step
Phrase: a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.
Pineapple tip: a serrated epee point used prior to electric judging.
Piste: the linear strip on which a fencing bout is fought; approx. 2m wide
and 14m long.
Pistol Grip: a modern, orthopaedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol;
varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.
Plaque': a point attack that lands flat.
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: a valid touch; the tip of the sword; the mechanical assembly that
makes up the point of an electric weapon; an attack made with the point (ie.
Point in Line: also line; an extended arm and blade that threatens the
Pommel: a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.
Preparation: a non-threatening action intended to create the opening for an
attack; the initial phase of an attack, before right-of-way is established.
Presentation: offering one's blade for engagement by the opponent.
Press: 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
Prime: parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.
Principle of Defence: the use of forte against foible when parrying.
Priority: 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: also taking the blade; an engagement of the blades that forces
the opponent's weapon into a new line. See: bind, croise, envelopment,
Quarte: parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.
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: a long, double-edged thrusting sword popular in the 16th-17th
Red Card: 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
Redoublement: a new action that follows an attack that missed or was
parried; renewal of a failed attack in the opposite line; alternatively see
Referee: also director, president; the mediator of the fencing bout.
Remise: immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried,
without withdrawing the arm.
Reprise: renewal of an attack that missed or was parried, after a return to
en-garde; alternatively see Redoublement.
Retreat: step back; opposite of advance.
Ricasso: the portion of the tang between the grip and the blade, present on
Italian hilts and most rapiers.
Right-of-way: rules for awarding the point in the event of a double touch in
foil or sabre.
Riposte: an offensive action made immediately after a parry of the
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: a fencing hall or club.
Salute: with the weapon, a customary acknowledgement of one's opponent and
referee at the start and end of the bout.
Schlager: German fraternity duelling sword, used with cuts to the face and
Second 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: parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Septime: parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.
Simple: executed in one movement; an attack or riposte that involves no
Simultaneous: in foil and sabre, two attacks for which the right-of-way is
too close to determine.
Single Stick: an archaic form of fencing with basket-hilted wooden sticks.
Single-time: also "stesso tempo"; parry-riposte as a single action.
Sixte parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Small Sword: a light duelling sword popular in the 17th-18th centuries,
precursor to the foil.
Stop Hit: a counter-attack that hits; also a counter-attack whose touch is
valid by virtue of its timing.
Stop Cut: a stop-hit with the edge in sabre, typically to the cuff.
Three Prong: 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
Thrown Point: a "flick".
Thrust: an attack made by moving the sword parallel to its length and
landing with the point.
Tierce: parry #3; blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Time Hit: also time-thrust; old name for stop hit with opposition.
Trompement: deception of the parry. Whip-over: in sabre, a touch that
results from the foible of the blade whipping over the opponent's guard or
blade when parried.
Whites: fencing clothing.
Yellow Card: also advertissement, warning; used to indicate a minor rule
infraction by one of the fencers.
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