Advance: Taking a step towards one’s opponent.

Attack: Movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point. In foil and saber, the fencer who attacks first acquires the “right-of-way.” In order to execute a attack properly (i.e. one that the referee will acknowledge), the fencer’s hand must be clearly extending towards their opponent’s valid target in a threatening manner.

Beat: Sharp tap on the opponent’s blade to initiate an attack or provoke a reaction.

Disengage: Evasive action in which the fencer avoids the opponent’s attempt to take their blade.

Engagement:  Contact between the fencers’ blades – often as the prelude to an attack.

En Garde: Position taken before fencing commences.

Feint: A false attack intended to get a defensive reaction from the opposing fencer, thus creating the opportunity for a genuine attack (“feint-disengage attack”)

Flèche: Explosive, running attack (Foil and Epee only)

Flunge: Action unique to saber – a combination of a lunge and a fleche. Evolved recently after the FIE modified saber rules in 1992 to prohibit running attacks.

Guard: Part of the weapon between the blade and handle; protects the hand (also: “bell-guard”)

Parry, Counter-Parry: Defensive action in which a fencer blocks his opponent’s blade.

Lunge: Most common attacking technique, in which the fencer launches themselves at their opponent by pushing off from their back leg (which generally remains stationary).

Opposition: “Thrust with Opposition” – To simultaneously deflect the opponent’s point with one’s guard while making an attack of one’s own. Commonly used in epee to avoid a double touch.

Piste: French term for the fencing strip.

Point-in-Line: Action in which the fencer, who is generally out of attacking range, points their weapon at their opponent with their arm fully extended. A fencer who establishes a point in line has right of way, and their opponent cannot attack until they remove the blade from line by executing a beat.

Recover: The return to the en guarde position after lunging.

Remise: Attacking again immediately after the opponent’s parry of an initial attack.

Riposte: Defender’s offensive action immediately after parrying their opponent’s attack.

Second Intention: A tactic in which a fencer executes a convincing, yet false, action in hopes of drawing a true, committed reaction from their opponent.

Stop Hit: A counter-action made at the moment of an opponent’s hesitation, feint, or poorly executed attack. To be awarded the point, the fencer attempting a stop hit must clearly catch their opponent’s tempo. Hence, if their Stop Hit is not “in time,” the referee may award the touch to their attacker.

Strip: Fencing area, 14 meters long by 2 meters wide.


Information provided by the United States Fencing Association.