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Fencing 101

FIE, CE and safety guide lines   

Types of Weapons and their differences

Protective Equipment

Tournament requirement

 

FIE and CE

Before we go more in detail into Fencing, there are some terms that need to be explained.

 

FIE FIE stands for Federate International Escrime.  It is a governing board for the fencing sport.  All international tournaments require fencers to use FIE approved equipment.  It is the highest standard in fencing.  FIE approved equipment usually carries an FIE logo.  USA local or national tournament does NOT require FIE fencing equipment.  The following are a main list of items that may have FIE version: masks, jackets, knickers, underarm protectors and blades.  There are no FIE gloves, socks, shoes or electrical jackets (Lames) because they do not protect life threatening part of the body. 

 

CE. This is a standard for anything sold to European Community.  This standard is NOT required in US but it serves as a good reference for safety of your equipment.

 

Please note: fencing is an intensive sport that involves a potential risk of personal injury.  Fencers are responsible to check all fencing equipment for safety every time before using it.  Never fence with or against a broken blade or weapon.  Always wear all protective equipment when you fence. Practice foil or epee MUST carry a protective rubber tip!  We always recommend fencers to wear equipment that meets the highest standard if financially allowed.

 

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Types of Weapons and their differences

There are 3 types of weapons in fencing: Foil, Epee and Saber.

 

Foil This is the smallest weapon of all.  Most fencers start with foil.  The target area for foil is upper body only EXCLUDING arm and neck.  Foil fencers must wear a metallic vest called lame for target area.  Lames do not protect fencers but it serves as a target area.  Some foil blades are FIE approved.  The FIE approved blades are usually made from a type of high-end stainless steel metal called Maragine.  The FIE foil blades are a little heavier and more expensive but it provides substantial longer life span than the non-FIE blades.  Foil masks used to be the same as the epee masks.  As of Aug 1st , 2011, the United States Fencing Association adopted the new rule of having conducting bib on the foil mask for all national level and open ROC tournaments.  However, the local tournaments may or may not require having the conducting bib for foil fencing.   Foil is the most popular fencing sport in US compare to Epee and Saber.   FIE foil blades are NOT required in US local or national tournaments but are required for all international tournaments.

 

Epee Epee has a bigger guard compared to foil.  The blade on the epee weapon is also wider, thicker and heavier.  The target area is from head to toe.  Some epee blades are FIE approved.  The FIE approved blades are usually made from a type of high-end stainless steel metal called Maragine.  The FIE blades are a little heavier and more expensive but it provides substantial longer life span than the non-FIE blades.  Epee blades are usually more expensive than the foil or saber blades.  FIE Epee blades are NOT required in US local or national tournaments but are required for all international tournaments.

 

 

Saber Saber differs from foil and epee in the action of touch.  There are much more slashing in saber while foil and epee fencers mainly pokes the opponents.  The target area for saber is anyplace above the waistline including arms and head.  Saber fencers must wear an electrical jacket (called lame) for target area. Some sabre blades are FIE approved.  The FIE approved blades are usually made from a type of high-end stainless steel metal called Maragine.  The FIE blades are a little heavier and more expensive but it provides substantial longer life span than the non-FIE blades.  Unlike Foil and Epee, Saber FIE blades are NOT required in either domestic or international tournaments.  The replacement blades for saber are also the cheapest among the three.     

 

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Protective Equipment

Regardless of which weapon you practice, the protective equipment for all three weapons are the same.  They are masks, jackets, underarm protectors/plastrons, knickers, gloves, socks and shoes. 

 

Masks In terms of protection, there are two major categories.  FIE and Non-FIE.  FIE masks provide 1600 Newton pressure test protection on the bib (protection for throat).  Non-FIE usually provides 350 Newton.  (Our BG basic masks provide 400-1000 Newton protection).   The mesh for both FIE and non-FIE masks MUST pass the same 12 kg punch test for safety.  The FIE masks mesh are required to use high grade stainless steel.  The non-FIE masks usually use regular steel. 

 

Jackets and Knickers There are FIE and non-FIE jackets and knickers as well.  The FIE jackets and knickers pass 800 Newton pressure test and the non-FIE jackets and knickers are usually 350 Newton.  (BG has a style withstand 512 Newton, which is right in the middle in terms of protection)   The most basic jackets are usually made from thick white cotton.  As a natural fabric, cotton breathes better than synthetics.  However, the cotton may shrink a little after wash and it is less flexible than the synthetic models.  In addition, some jackets are back zippered and some are front zippered (or front zipper).  The back zipper jackets are cheaper but it is harder for one to put on himself.  The front zipper jacket is usually a preferred choice among fencers.

 

Underarm Protector/Plastron This is a half jacket that is worn inside of the regular jacket.  They are either FIE (800 Newton protection) or non-FIE (usually 350 Newton).  This layer of protection is required for all tournaments in USA. 

 

Chest protectors The chest protectors are optional for male but are required for female in all tournaments in USA. They are usually made of hard plastic. 

 

Gloves  All fencing gloves only come with one, which is usually for the hand that holds the weapon.  There are no FIE gloves. 

 

Socks All tournaments require fencers to wear socks that cover up to the knees. 

 

Shoes All sneakers can be used as fencing shoes, however, the fencing shoes usually come with enhancement specifically designed for the movement in fencing. 

 

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Tournament requirement

If you ever plan to compete in a fencing tournament, you should have the following equipment with you.

 

Your protective equipment includes fencing jacket, fencing knickers, fencing underarm protector, fencing mask, chest protector (for female only), fencing glove, fencing socks (long socks).

Your weapon:  2 working weapons and 2 body cord (plus 2 mask cord if you fence saber or foil with conductive bib only)

 

Blade size.  If you are competing 10-year-old tournament, you must use shorter blades on your weapon (#2 blade).  The regular adult blade length is #5.  If you are 11 year old, then you cannot compete in Y10 any more.  The youngest age group you can compete is Y12, which you can use up to #5 blade.

 

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