Fencing – Olympic Sport

Fencing was first included in the Olympic programme in 1896. At the time, the sword was still considered an important military weapon and the skill of fighting remained a well-established custom backed by centuries of traditions. As the sword fell into disuse as a weapon of war, its popularity in sports continued. In fact, fencing remains one of just six sports to have appeared in every modern Olympic Games.

Foil, Epee and Sabre are the three disciplines of Olympic fencing. Foil and Epee are point-thrusting weapons, while Sabre is both point-thrusting and cutting. The target areas differ for the three weapons as well.

The modern Olympic fencer trains for years, honing agility, quickness and subtlety of movement. The sport has been described as “chess with muscles”, suggesting the complicated strategy that lies behind the thrusts and parries that punctuate a duel.

While it is not unusual for fencers to compete in all three events, they generally choose to specialize in one weapon only.