SO WHAT IS FENCING?
Fencing takes place on a 14 metre long by 1.5 - 2 metre wide piste. The sport is extremely fast and making refereeing decisions can be very difficult.
Whether hits land is judged by the electric scoring equipment but the referee makes the decisions on who, if either, scores.
At major events, such as World Championships and the Olympics, to aid both the spectators & the referee, floor or large panel lights behind the pistes show the hits.
Video replays have also been introduced at major events. Fencers can ask for a decision to be reviewed or the referee can now check the video himself before giving a decision.
At these events, fencers no longer trail wires behind them, wearing a wifi transmitter pack instead. The system is currently extremely expensive, so restricted to the very top events, but cheaper versions are likely soon to be available.
Bouts are first to 5 hits in the early part of individual competitions, where a poule of fencers all fight each other.
This becomes 15 hits in the later, knockout stages.
Team matches are now normally run on a relay system with each bout picking up the score where the last on left off.
For teams of 3 the winner is the first team to reach 45 hits or be leading if time runs out.
Let's look at each weapon and its rules in turn............
Sabre derives from the cavalry weapon - in particular the Hungarian version. It is mainly a cutting weapon, although the point can be, and is, used to score. The reason for the upper body target is unclear, perhaps being the whim of an influential Italian fencing professor at the turn of the last century.
Target area :
All of the body above the waist, which is covered with a lamé jacket, except hands (for technical reasons) but including the head, so the mask is also conductive.
A cutting weapon - i.e. hit with any part of the blade (Cut or point hits - but mainly cuts).
Attacker has 'Right of Way' - i.e. if the attacker hits, without the defender avoiding the attack or clearing it with a parry or beat, he scores if the opponent simply counter-attacks. Once an action is parried, the right of way changes over. However, counter-attacks are more likely to be "in time" than at foil because the attacker might need an extra step to hit to body whilst himself being hit on the arm. Hits off the target area count as not landing at all.