Glossary of terms:
Assault: friendly combat between two fencers.
Attack: an offensive action that includes extension of the arm, a
forward moving blade, and the threatening of the target with the
scoring part of the weapon.
Attack au Fer: an attack on the opponent's blade, eg. beat,
Balestra: a forward hop or jump, typically followed by an attack
such as a lunge or fleche.
Bayonet: a type of electrical connector for weapons.
Beat: an attempt to knock the opponent's blade aside or out of line.
Bind: an action in which one fencer forces the opponent's blade into
the diagonally opposite line, by taking it with the guard and fort
of his own blade.
Black Card: used to indicate the most serious offences in a fencing
competition. The offending fencer is usually expelled from the
event or tournament.
Bout: an assault at which the score is kept.
Broadsword: a military sword and fencing weapon popular in the
centuries, similar to a heavy sabre; any straight-bladed, double-
edged, single-handed cutting sword of the post-medieval period.
Broken Time: a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer's actions,
to fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time.
Compound: an attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints to
opposite line that the action finishes in.
Conversation: the back-and-forth play of the blades in a fencing
composed of phrases (phrases d'armes) punctuated by gaps of no
Counter-attack: an attack made against the right-of-way, or in
response to the opponent's attack.
Counter-parry: a parry made in the opposite line to the attack; ie.
the defender first comes around to the opposite side of the
Counter-riposte: an attack that follows a parry of the opponent's
Counter-time: an attack that responds to the opponent's
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
along the opponent's blade.
Coupe': also cut-over; an attack that passes around the opponent's
Croise: also semi-bind; an action in which one fencer forces the
opponent's blade into the high or low line on the same side, by
taking it with the guard and fort of his own blade.
Cut: an attack made with a chopping motion of the blade, landing with
the edge or point (see Flick).
Derobement: avoidance of an attempt to take the blade.
Direct: an attack or riposte that finishes in the same line in which
was formed, with no feints out of that line.
Disengage: a circular movement of the blade that avoids the
Double': an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle
around the opponent's blade, and finishes in the opposite line.
En Garde: also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that
fencers assume when preparing to fence.
Envelopment: an action that sweeps the opponent's blade through a full
Epee: a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a
bell guard; also a light duelling sword of similar design,
in the mid-19th century.
False attack: an attack that is intended to miss or fall short,
intended to produce a reaction from the opponent.
Feint: attacking 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.
Finta in tempo: an attack that responds to the opponent's
Fleche: lit. "arrow"; an attack in which the aggressor leaps off his
leading foot, attempts to make the hit, and then passes the
at a run.
Flick: a cut that lands with the point, often involving some whip of
the foible of the blade.
Florentine: a fencing style where a secondary weapon or other
is used in the opposite hand.
Foible: the upper, weak part of the blade.
Foil: a fencing weapon with rectangular cross-section blade and a
bell guard; any sword that has been buttoned to render it less
dangerous for practice.
Fort: the lower, strong part of the blade.
French Grip: a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a
Froissement: an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a
strong grazing action.
Guard: the metal cup that protects the hand from being hit. Foils
use small bell guards, epees use large bell guards, and sabres
have a knuckle guard that wraps around the hilt to protect from
cuts to the hand.
Hilt: the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip, and pommel.
Homologated: certified for use in FIE competitions, eg. 800N clothing
and maraging blades.
In Quartata: an attack made with a quarter turn to the inside,
concealing the front but exposing the back.
In Time: when a stop-hit arrives at least one fencing time before
the original attack.
Indirect: an attack or riposte that finishes in the opposite line to
which it was formed.
Insistence: forcing an attack through the parry, using strength.
Italian Grip: a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.
Lame': a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil
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.
Lunge: an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the
bent front leg.
Mal-parry: a parry that fails to prevent the attack from landing.
Maraging: a special steel used for making blades; tends to be
and break more cleanly than conventional steels.
Match: the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.
Neunte: parry #9; blade behind the back, pointing down.
Octave: parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Opposition: an attack or counter-attack in the same line as the
opponent's blade; a combined parry and riposte.
Parry: a block of the attack, made with one's own blade.
Passata-sotto: a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.
Phrase: a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing
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.
Plastron: a partial jacket worn for extra protection; typically a
half-jacket worn under the main jacket on the weapon-arm side of
Point in Line: also line; an extended arm and blade that threatens
Pommel: a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.
Preparation: the initial phase of an attack, before right-of-way is
Pressure: an attempt to push the opponent's blade aside or out of
depending on the opponent's response, the pressure is followed by
direct or indirect attack.
Prime: parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.
Priority: in sabre, the now-superceded rules that decide which fencer
will be awarded the touch in the event that they both attack
Prise de Fer: also taking the blade; an engagement of the blades
that attempts to control the opponent's weapon. See: bind,
croise, envelopment, opposition.
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
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 other fencer.
Redoublement: a new action that follows an attack that missed or
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.
Right-of-way: rules for awarding the point in the event of a double
touch in foil or sabre. (see question 11)
Riposte: an attack made immediately after a parry of the opponent's
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 single-edged cutting sword used by cavalry.
Salle: a fencing hall or club.
Second Intention: a false action used to draw a response from the
opponent, which will open the opportunity for the intended
action that follows.
Seconde: parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Septime: parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.
Simple: an attack or riposte that involves no feints.
Simultaneous: in epee, two hits that arrive within 1/20 - 1/25 s of
each other. In foil and sabre, two attacks for which the
right-of-way is too close to determine.
Sixte: parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Small Sword: also court sword; a light duelling sword popular in the
Stop Hit: a counter-attack that hits.
Three Prong: a type of epee body wire/connector; also an
tip that would snag clothing, to make it easier to detect hits in
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: old name for stop hit with opposition.
Two Prong: a type of body-wire/connector, used in foil and sabre.
Whip-over: in sabre, a touch that results from the foible of the
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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