Flèche (fencing)

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Ruben Limardo attacks Ulrich Robeiri (left) with a fleche, Masters epee 2012 Quarter-finals Limardo-Robeiri Masters epee 2012 n05.jpg
Rubén Limardo attacks Ulrich Robeiri (left) with a flèche, Masters épée 2012
Fabian Kauter (right) hits Diego Confalonieri (left) with a fleche attack, Trophee Monal 2012 (epee) Final Trophee Monal 2012 n08.jpg
Fabian Kauter (right) hits Diego Confalonieri (left) with a flèche attack, Trophée Monal 2012 (épée)

The flèche /ˈflɛʃ/ is an aggressive offensive fencing technique used with foil and épée.



In a flèche, a fencer transfers their weight onto their front foot and starts to extend the arm. The rear leg initiates the attack, but the ball of the leading foot provides the explosive impulse that is needed to drive the fencer toward the opponent. [1] Continuing to bring the weapon, arm, and front shoulder forward, the fencer picks up their back foot, crossing their front leg, and landing it in front of the other foot - as if taking an exaggerated walking stride. It is at this point, when the back foot lands and just after that arm has become fully extended, that the hit should be made. In foil, the attack is considered over when the back foot lands, and the opponent can seize right-of-way by initiating an attack.

After attempting the hit, the fencer continues to move forward, running past their opponent, to avoid the riposte if he or she was parried, or a counterattack. If the fencer moves past as quickly as possible, the opponent generally only has one chance to hit the fleching fencer as they pass. Rules prevent body contact with the opponent in foil. Infraction of the rule may result in a warning, awarding a touch to the opponent, and/or expulsion from the competition. [2] In épée, contact merely results in a stopping of play without penalty, unless it was done with jostling, brutality, or to avoid being hit.

The flèche involves speed and an element of surprise. The flèche is absolutely not a charge down the piste at an opponent at distance. The flèche utilizes timing, not distance, so the distance shouldn't be greater than a step-lunge.

The flèche is only used in foil and épée. In sabre, it is forbidden for the back foot to pass in front of the front foot, outlawing the flèche.

The flèche is not allowed in some types of tournaments, especially in high school fencing. For example, the flèche is forbidden in New Jersey interscholastic fencing.[ citation needed ]


The term flèche is a French term meaning "arrow," referring to the surprising style of the attack. Under FIE rules it is illegal for a sabreur to cross his or her legs, making the flèche illegal. Sabreurs can instead use a flunge - a portmanteau of flying and lunge - where a lunge (generally cutting to head) is made with a leap to give speed and close the extra distance.

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Fencing Type of armed combat sport

Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the foil, the épée, and the sabre ; winning points are made through the weapon's contact with an opponent. A fourth discipline, singlestick, appeared in the 1904 Olympics but was dropped after that, and is not a part of modern fencing. Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport arose at the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the historical European martial art of classical fencing, and the French school later refining the Italian system. There are three forms of modern fencing, each of which uses a different kind of weapon and has different rules; thus the sport itself is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, épée, and sabre. Most competitive fencers choose to specialize in one weapon only.

Parry (fencing)

A parry is a fencing bladework maneuver intended to deflect or block an incoming attack.

Foil (fencing)

A foil is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. It is flexible, rectangular in cross section, and weighs under a pound. As with the épée, points are only scored by contact with the tip, which, in electrically scored tournaments, is capped with a spring-loaded button to signal a touch. A foil fencer's uniform features the lamé. The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.


The épée is the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing. The modern épée derives from the 19th-century Épée de Combat, a weapon which itself derives from the French small sword.

The remise is a renewal of an attack in fencing. It is performed when one fencer's attack has failed, either because their opponent has parried or they missed. If the attacker immediately continues their attack in the same line, they have executed a remise. The name also is applied to repetitions of other actions which did not initially succeed. The remise is at the bottom of actions in taking priority.

Classical fencing is the style of fencing as it existed during the 19th and early 20th century. According to the 19th-century fencing master Louis Rondelle,

A classical fencer is supposed to be one who observes a fine position, whose attacks are fully developed, whose hits are marvelously accurate, his parries firm and his ripostes executed with precision. One must not forget that this regularity is not possible unless the adversary is a party to it. It is a conventional bout, which consists of parries, attacks, and returns, all rhyming together.

Sabre (fencing)

The sabre is one of the three disciplines of modern fencing. The sabre weapon is for thrusting and cutting with both the cutting edge and the back of the blade.

Outline of fencing Overview of and topical guide to fencing

Fencing – family of combat sports using bladed weapons. Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games. Also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing.

Attack (fencing)

In fencing, an attack is "the initial offensive action made by extending the arm and continuously threatening the opponent's target". In order for an attack to be awarded successfully, the fencer must accelerate their hand and feet towards the target. If the fencer does not accelerate the hand or foot, this is a preparation.

Rapier Combat is a style of historical fencing practiced in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). The primary focus is to study, replicate and compete with styles of rapier sword-fighting found in Europe during the Renaissance period, using blunted steel swords and a variety of off-hand defensive items. Participants wear period clothing while competing, along with or incorporating protective equipment for safety. In the April 2020 update of the rules, the sport was renamed 'Fencing Combat'.

Flick (fencing)

The flick is a technique used in modern fencing. It is used in foil and to a lesser extent, épée.

In fencing, a body cord serves as the connection between a fencer and a reel of wire that is part of a system for electrically detecting that the weapon has touched the opponent. There are two types: one for epee, and one for foil and sabre.

In fencing, the grip is the part of the weapon which is gripped by the fencer's hand.

Lunge (fencing)

The lunge is the fundamental footwork technique used with all three fencing weapons: foil, épée and sabre. It is common to all contemporary fencing styles.

Priority or right of way is the decision criterion used in foil and sabre fencing to determine which fencer receives the touch, or point, when both fencers land a hit within the same short time-frame. After this window, if one fencer had already landed a hit, the electrical scoring apparatus would "lock-out," or fail to record, an opponent's subsequent hit, and thus the one fencer to land a hit is awarded the touch. In épée fencing, if both fencers land valid hits at the same time, they each receive a point. Because of this foil and sabre are considered conventional weapons.

Fencing practice and techniques of modern competitive fencing are governed by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), though they developed from conventions developed in 18th- and 19th-century Europe to govern fencing as a martial art and a gentlemanly pursuit. The modern weapons for sport fencing are the foil, épée, and sabre.

Anja Fichtel German fencer

Anja Fichtel-Mauritz is a German fencer. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, she won in the individual and team competitions, and she won the individual competition of the World Championship in 1986 and 1990. She was winner of the World Championships in 1985, 1989, 1993 as a member of the national German team and second in team competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics. From 1986 until 1996 Fichtel held the title of German champion.

Prise de fer is a movement used in fencing in which a fencer takes the opponent's blade into a line and holds it there in preparation to attack. Translated from French, the phrase prise de fer means "taking-the-blade" or "taking-the-steel". Alternate spellings include the plural Prises de Fer or "Les Prises de Fer", and (incorrectly) Praise de Fer. There are four prise de fer actions: opposition, croisè, bind, and envelopment. However, each fencing master and fencing doctrine has a separate view of prise de fer. William Gaugler lists all four actions under Prise de Fer in his dictionary of fencing terminology, while Roger Crosnier in his book Fencing with the Foil only mentions the croisé, the bind, and the envelopment as prise de fer actions. Any prise de fer action requires that the blades be engaged, and it works best against an opponent who uses and maintains a straight arm. Additionally, a successful action demands surprise, precise timing, and control.

Fencing tactics

Tactics are very important to playing well in modern fencing and although technique is important in the sport, using an array of tactics will help fencers make the most of that technique.

This is a glossary of terms used in fencing.


  1. Garret, Maxwell R. and Mary Heinecke Poulson. Foil Fencing. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1981, p. 49.
  2. Garret