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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 (a vest, electrically wired to record hits). The foil is the most commonly used weapon in competition.
There are two types of foils that are used in modern fencing. Both types are made with the same basic parts: the pommel, grip, guard, and blade. The difference between them is one is electric, and the other is known as "steam" or "dry". [ citation needed ]) Lacking the button and associated electrical mechanism, a judge is required to determine the scoring and the victor in a tournament with non-electric foils.The blades of both varieties are capped with a plastic or rubber piece, with a button at the tip in electric blades, that provides information when the blade tip touches the opponent. (There are also a range of plastic swords made by varying manufacturers for use by juniors.
Non-electric ones are primarily used for practice.[ citation needed ] The Fédération Internationale d'Escrime and most national organizations require electric scoring apparatus since the 1956 Olympics, although some organizations still fence competitively with non-electric swords.[ citation needed ]
Foils have standardized, tapered, rectangular blades in length and cross-section that are made of tempered and annealed low-carbon steel—or maraging steel as required for international competitions. To prevent the blade from breaking or causing harm to an opponent, the blade is made to bend upon impact with its target. The maximum length of the blade must be 90 cm. The length of the assembled weapon at maximum is 110 cm, and the maximum weight must be less than 500g; however, most competition foils are lighter, closer to 350g.
The blade of a foil has two sections: the forte (strong) which is the one third of the blade near the guard, and the foible (weak) which is the two thirds of the blade near the tip. There is a part of the blade contained within the grip called a tang. It extends past the grip enough to be fastened to the pommel and to hold the rest of the foil together. When an Italian grip is used, see below, a ricasso extends from under the guard, inside of the grip's quillons, into the tang.[ citation needed ]
The guard is fastened to the blade, plug, and grip. Then the pommel, a type of fastener, is attached to the grip and holds the rest together. The type of pommel used depends on the type of grip.Two grips are used in foil: straight traditional grips with external pommels (Italian, French, Spanish, and orthopedic varieties); and the newer design of pistol grips, which fix the hand in a specific, ergonomic position, and which have pommels that fit into a countersink in the grip.
Beginning with the 1956 Olympics, scoring in foil has been accomplished by means of registering the touch with an electric circuit. A switch at the tip of the foil registers the touch, and a metallic foil vest, or lamé, verifies that the touch is on valid target.[ citation needed ]
The cord of any type of electric fencing weapon goes through the fencing gear, coming out behind the fencer. The cord of a foil has one end connecting to the back of the fencing strip, and the other end attaches to the foil. The two ends are not interchangeable with one another.
The electric foil contains a socket underneath the guard that connects to the scoring apparatus via the body cord and a wire that runs down a channel cut into the top of the blade. Electric foil sockets are fixed so that the body cord plugs into the weapon at the fencer's wrist.There are two main sockets in use today: the "bayonette" which has a single prong and twists-locks into the foil, and the two prong, which has different diameters for each prong, held in place by a clip.
The tip of the electric foil terminates in a button assembly that generally consists of a barrel, plunger, spring, and retaining screws.[ citation needed ] The circuit is a "normally closed" one, meaning that at rest there is always a complete power circuit; depressing the tip breaks this circuit, and the scoring apparatus illuminates an appropriate light.[ citation needed ] Color-coding is used: white or yellow indicates hits not on the valid target area, and either red or green indicate hits on the valid target area (red for one fencer, green for the other).[ citation needed ]
The modern foil is the training weapon for the small-sword, the common sidearm of 18th century gentleman. Rapier and even longsword foils are also known to have been used, but their weight and use were very different.[ citation needed ]
Although the foil as a blunted weapon for sword practice goes back to the 16th century (for example, in Hamlet, Shakespeare writes "let the foils be brought" [ citation needed ]), the use as a weapon for sport is more recent. The foil was used in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century in order to practise fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point ("blossom", French fleuret). In addition to practising, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. German students took up that practice in academic fencing and developed the Pariser ("Parisian") thrusting small sword for the Stoßmensur ("thrusting mensur").
The target area for modern foil is said to come from a time when fencing was practised with limited safety equipment. Another factor in the target area is that foil rules are derived from a period when dueling to the death was the norm. Hence, the favoured target area is the torso, where the vital organs are.[ citation needed ]
In 1896, foil (and saber) were included as events in the first Olympic Games in Athens.
Women's foil was first competed at the Olympics in 1924 in Paris,and was the only Olympic fencing event in which women competed until women's epeé was introduced at the 1996 Olympics. Nowadays, women's fencing is just as popular as men's, and consists of all weapons (foil, épée, and sabre).
Ratings exist in order to separate different level fencers from each other in order to create an even-playing field. A higher ranking is earned by performing well at competitions (and thus, presumably beating higher-rated individuals). The rankings are as following (from lowest to highest: U (unranked), E, D, C, B, A. The ranking is followed by the year earned (e.g. A2017, for individuals who earned their A ranking in the year 2017).
Age groups are necessary to separate skill and body maturity levels in order to create a level playing field. The current age groups for foil (and also épée and sabré) are Y10 (age 10 and under), Y12 (age 12 and under), Y14 (age 14 and under), cadet (age 16 and under), junior (age 19 and under), and senior (anything over 19). While an older competitor cannot compete in a younger category, the contrary is allowed and encouraged, in order to expedite learning.
Other notable groupings are Div 1 (generally consisting of the best fencers), Div 1A (the level right under Div 1), Div 2 (B-rated fencers and below), Div 3 (open to all lower-ranked fencers), and veteran. The veteran age group consists of 40 and over, 60 and over, and 70 and over sub-groups.
The rules for the sport of fencing are regulated by national sporting associations—in the United States, the United States Fencing Association (USFA)[ citation needed ] and internationally by the International Fencing Federation, or Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE).[ citation needed ]
The detailed rules for foil are listed in the USFA Rulebook.
Rules for the sport of fencing date back to the 19th century.The current international rules for foil were adopted by the FIE Committee for Foil on 12 June 1914. They are based on previous sets of rules adopted by national associations. The rules governing the use of electrical judging apparatus were adopted in 1957 and have been amended several times.
The foil is used as a thrusting (or point) weapon only. Contact with the side of the blade (a slap or slash) does not result in a score. The tip of the foil must be depressed for at least 15 (± .5) milliseconds while in contact with the opponent's lamé (wire-mesh jacket which covers valid target area) to score a touch. The foil lamé only covers the torso while in saber it covers the whole upper body. The tip must be able to support a minimum force of 4.90 newtons (500 grams-force) without the circuit breaking. This is tested with a 500g (± 3g) weight.
In foil the valid target area includes the torso (including the lower part of the bib of the mask) and the groin. The head (except the lower part of the bib of the mask), arms, and legs are considered off target. Touches made off target do not count for points, but do stop play.[ citation needed ] The target area has been changed multiple times, with the latest change consisting of adding the bottom half of the bib to the target zone.[ citation needed ]
Foil competition and scoring is governed by the rules of priority, also known as right of way.[ citation needed ] Originally meant to indicate which competitor would have scored the touch (or lethally injured the other), it is now a main contributor to the appeal of the sport of fencing. In essence, they decide who receives the point (there can only be one competitor that receives a point per engagement) when both competitors hit.
The basic rules (the full list is extensive) are whoever attacks first wins. This basic rule is far extended by saying that if the defender parries (meets the attacker's blade midair), he now has priority, and thus generally wins the point (touché).
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.
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 Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, commonly known by the acronym FIE, is the international governing body of Olympic fencing. Today, its head office is at the Maison du Sport International in Lausanne, Switzerland. The FIE is composed of 157 national federations, each of which is recognized by its country's Olympic Committee as the sole representative of Olympic-style fencing in that country.
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.
The British Fencing Association (BFA), often referred to as British Fencing, is the national governing body (NGB) for the Olympic sport of Fencing in the British Isles.
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.
Fencing has been contested at every Summer Olympic Games since the birth of the modern Olympic movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. Women's foil made its Olympic debut in Paris, during the 1924 Olympic Games. There are three forms of Olympic 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.
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'.
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.
The Amateur Fencers League of America (AFLA) was founded on April 22, 1891, in New York City by a group of fencers seeking independence from the Amateur Athletic Union. As early as 1940, the AFLA was recognized by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) and the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body for fencing in the United States.
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.
The World Fencing Championships is an annual competition in fencing organized by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime or FIE,. The world championships are, after the Olympic Games, the most prominent international competition in the sport of fencing. Contestants may participate in foil, épée, and sabre events.
The oldest surviving manual on western swordsmanship dates to around 1300, although historical references date fencing schools back to the 12th century.
The FIE Fencing World Cup is an international fencing competition held by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime. In each weapon, three Grand Prix, five World Cup events and several satellite events are contested each season. The five top results as well as the Olympic Games or World Fencing Championships and zonal championships results are taken into account for each fencer's rankings. For teams, up to five World Cup events are held each year. The four top results as well as the Olympic Games or World Fencing Championships and zonal championships are taken into account for each country's rankings.
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.