Fencing Terms

This is a list of terms that we frequently use in Columbia Classical Fencing, LLC (CCF). A few notes about this list is necessary.  First, although it includes some French and Italian fencing terms (indicated by “Fr.” and “It.” respectively), this list does not contain all fencing terminology.  It is selective for CCF’s purposes.
Also, this list provides English translations of some of the more common fencing terms we use. But some terms – such as inquartata, mal paré, or sentiment du fer – are conventionally and best expressed in their original language.
Finally, some fencing terms have historically been used inconsistently.  Accordingly, this list does not purport to be definitive, and non-CCF fencers will likely use some terms differently.  This is merely a list of terms as they are used in CCF.


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A

absence d’épée [Fr.]:  to come on guard or fence without engagement

action in time:  an action taken during the opponent’s attempted action

action of concealment:  generally, any action that a fencer takes to conceal another action, such as using distracting changes of engagement to conceal the fencer’s entrance into medium distance or rapid footwork to conceal the fencer’s use of pressure to open the opponent’s line

action on the blade:  a category of actions that a fencer executes on the adversary’s blade;  in CCF, actions on the blade are divided into (1) attacks on the blade and (2) takings of the steel

advance:  a fencer’s forward step

aides:  the armed hand’s forefinger and thumb

  • see manipulators

Allez! [Fr., “Go!”]:  the command to begin fencing

appel [Fr., a “call”]:  a crisp tap of the front foot against the floor

appuntata:  a stop hit delivered from the lunge against the opponent’s attempted compound riposte

armed hand:  the hand holding the weapon

arrest [Fr., coup d’arrêt; It., colpo di arresto]:  an action in time in which the fencer attacks during the feint of the opponent’s attempted compound attack, stopping the opponent’s attack in its progress  (also, “stop hit”)

arresto [It.]:  an arrest

attack: a general term referring to an offensive action intended to land a valid hit

attack on the blade [Fr., attaque au fer]:  an action that a fencer executes with his blade on the opponent’s blade to displace the latter’s blade; in CCF, attacks on the blade include beats, pressures, froissements (expulsions), and disarms

  • see also, takings of the steel

attack on the pass:  a small-sword attack in which the attacker extends his sword arm and, rather than lunging, steps forward by placing his rear foot in front of his lead foot

attaque au fer [Fr.]:  an attack on the blade

attaque composée [Fr.]:  a composed attack

attaque sur préparation [Fr.]:  a fencer’s attack into the opponent’s preparation on the attack; an action in time


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B

backsword:  a straight-bladed, single-edge sword with a one-handed grip

banderole [Fr., “banner”]:  in French saber fencing, a diagonal cut across the chest or abdomen

battement [Fr.]:a beat

battuta: [It.]:  a beat

beat [Fr., battement; It., battuta]:  an attack on the blade in which the fencer, using the medium to forte of his own blade, crisply beats the weak part of the opponent’s blade

bind: a taking of the steel in which the fencer uses his blade’s forte to manipulate the opponent’s extended blade to the diagonally opposite line

  • cf. transport (acting upon the opponent’s nonextended blade)

blade cover [It., copertino]:  to engage the opponent’s blade, deviating it downward and to your inside line, then extending and gliding along the length of the opponent’s blade to the touch

blade temptation: when feinting, to stop the point about four or five inches from the body in order to make the action more pronounced and better induce the parry

block:  in cane and saber fencing, to stop the attacking weapon in its path with your own weapon (most frequently and loosely called a “parry”)

  • cf. parry

branches:  the two rings mounted underneath a small-sword’s pas d’âne, used for structural support and not intended for one’s fingers

brisé [Fr.]:  in French saber and cane fencing, a downward cut or strike (respectively) to the crown delivered by an outside moulinet

bout:  generally, a contest between two fencers, usually to three or five touches

button:  the rubber tip of a foil, small-sword, or dueling sword


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C

cavazione [It.]:  a disengage

cavazione in tempo [It.]:  a dérobement

cavé [Fr., “caved in, collapsed”]:  in the French school of fencing, to:  (1) thrust with angulation away from the adverse blade, leaving open the line in which the attack is being delivered, or (2) defend against an attempted flanconnade by bending one’s sword-arm elbow, thereby withdrawing the arm and realigning the blades so that the defender’s forte is repositioned on the attacker’s weak

ceding parry [Fr., parade en cedant]: in the French school of fencing, a defensive action against an attempted flanconnade executed by (1) bending the wrist and elbow, (2) sliding the bound blade to the other side of the opponent’s blade, and thereby redirecting the opponent’s incoming blade to the laterally-opposite and closed line

center-line:  in martial-arts theory, a hypothetical line running vertically down your body’s front plane, establishing certain offensive and defensive principles

center of percussion:  that part of the cane or saber that, when striking, delivers the least shock to the hand

central position:  an en garde position that places the weapon at the center junction of the four lines (also, “center position”)

chamber:  in cane fencing, to pull the cane back into a position of readiness to strike

change beat:  a beat that is performed by laterally changing lines and then immediately beating the opponent’s blade on that side

change of engagement [Fr., changement d’engagement]:  to change the blades’ engagement into the laterally opposite line, such as from sixte to quarte, or septime to octave

changement d’engagement [Fr.]:  a change of engagement

changement de rhythme [Fr.]:  a sudden change in fencing tempo or rhythm for a strategic purpose

chasser les mouches [ Fr., “to chase flies”]:  an old French fencing phrase pejoratively referring to frantic parrying, thereby resembling swatting at flies

circular parry [Fr., contre-parade]:  a parry in which the defending blade moves in a circular motion

classical fencing:  fencing as it was practiced in the West during roughly the late 1700s and into the 1800s

close distance:  term used to describe the distance between two onguard fencers when at least one of the fencers can validly touch the other by extending the sword arm

  • see also, distance; long distance; &medium distance

close the line: to defend a line by positioning the blade and arm such that an attack into that line will not land on a valid target

  • see also, opposition

colpo di arresto [It.]:  a stop hit

compassing: to move left or right as on the circumference on a circle, around the opponent

composed attack [Fr., attaque composée]:  an attack from long distance and composed of a single feint and an attack

contracted parry:  a parry that travels an inefficient path in deviating the incoming steel (e.g., using a demicircle parry to parry a lateral disengage from the outside-high line)

contrary parry: a parry that defends the wrong line, i.e., the one in which the attack is not occurring

contratempo [It., “counter-time”]:  an attack delivered against an attempted counter-attack

contre-dégagement [Fr.]: a counter-disengagement

contre-parade [Fr.]:  a circular parry

controazione [It.]:  a counter-time action

controcavazione [It.]:  a counter-disengagement

copertino [It.]:  blade cover

coquille [Fr., “shell”]: the guard on the handle of a small-sword, foil, or dueling sword (sometimes called the “bell” or “bell guard”)

correct measure:  the distance one must travel to lunge and validly strike one’s opponent

  • see also, distance, measure, medium distance

coulé [Fr., a “gliding” or “sinking”]:  a glide

counter-attack:  an attack against an incoming attack

counter-disengagement [Fr., contredégagement]:  a disengagement executed upon the opponent’s attempted change of engagement

counter-time action [It., controazione]:  an action taken during the opponent’s attempted action in time

coup [Fr.]: a hit

coup d’arrêt [Fr.]:  a stop hit, an arrest

coup de flanc [Fr., “flank hit”]:  in cane fencing, a horizontal strike delivered to the opponent’s trunk on the outside line

coup de temps [Fr.]:  a time-thrust

coup de ventre [Fr., “abdominal hit”]:  in cane fencing, a horizontal strike delivered to the opponent’s trunk on the inside line

coup droit [Fr.]:  a straight thrust

coup droit d’autorité [Fr.]:  a valid hit that, due to its force, lands despite the attempted parry

  • cf. mal paré
  • see also, enter through the weak

coup jugé [Fr.]:  an attack that the defender correctly anticipates, facilitating his defensive response

coupé [Fr.]:  a cut over

croisé [Fr., “crossed”]:  a taking of the steel in which the fencer uses his blade to manipulate the opponent’s extended blade vertically (either from the high line to the low line, or vice versa) on the same side

croisé  jambe [Fr.]:  in cane fencing, a strike delivered to the outside line of the opponent’s lead-leg tibia by lunging

croisé tête [Fr.]:  in cane fencing, a vertical strike delivered to the opponent’s crown, executed by a rising moulinet from the inside line

cross-over retreat:  a retreat in which an en garde fencer places his lead foot behind the rear foot and then replaces the latter behind the lead foot, returning to the en garde position

cut:  a hit delivered with a saber’s cutting edge

cut over [Fr., coupé]:  a simple attack in which the attacker raises his blade over the tip of the defender’s blade, brings it down in the laterally-opposite line, and immediately extends

  • see simple attack

 


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D

deceive [Fr., trompement]:  a blade movement that the attacker executes in order to evade the defender’s attempt to parry or engage the attacker’s extended blade or incoming attack

  • cf. dérobement

dégagement [Fr.]: a disengagement

demicounter parry:  in the French school, a parry in which the point describes a half-circle, sweeping the defender’s body to deflect the incoming blade (sometimes called a “demicircle parry”)

demilunge:  a lunge that is executed at more or less half the fencer’s usual lunge length

dérobement [Fr.]:  a defensive and evasive blade movement—such as a change of engagement—that a fencer makes to defeat the opponent’s attempt to take or dominate the fencer’s blade. Example:  A derobes B’s attempted taking of A’s steel when A changes engagement upon B’s attempt to press A’s blade.  Comparatively, A deceives B’s parry when A disengages to the inside-high line, and, upon B’s attempted quarte parry, A moves his attacking blade under—i.e., deceives—B’s parry and back into the outside-high line to land the touch.

  • cf. deceive

direct riposte:  a riposte that lands in the same line in which the parry was made

disarmament: an especially vigorous attack on the weapon—usually a beat or froissement—which forces the opponent’s weapon from the opponent’s hand, whether accidentally or deliberately

  • see attacks on the blade

disengagement [Fr., dégagement]:  a simple attack in which the fencer detaches his blade from the engagement and extends his arm while passing his blade’s tip into a laterally or vertically opposite line

distance:  the space between two on guard fencers; in fencing, there are at least three distances:  close, correct measure (sometimes “medium distance,” or simply “measure”), out-of-measure (sometimes “long distance”)

  • see also, measure

droitier [Fr.]:  a right-handed fencer

  • cf. gaucher

dueling sword:  a single-handed thrusting weapon developed in the 19th century with an enlarged coquille and stiffer blade, used primarily for dueling during that period

 


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E

edge, false:  the non-cutting edge of a weapon, such as a knife or saber (sometimes called the “spine”)

edge, true:  the cutting edge of a weapon (sometimes called the “mechanical edge”)

eight: see octave

engagement:  (1) generally, a description of fencers’ blades being in contact; (2)  in French small-sword, to “engage” is to, after finding the opponent’s blade, to deviate it from your target area

  • cf. absence d’épée

engarde [Fr.]:  (1) a command to come on guard; (2) to be in the on-guard position

enlevé [Fr., “subtracted,” “taken away”]:  in cane fencing, a horizontal strike delivered to the  inside of the opponent’s lead-leg tibia by lunging

enter through the weak:  to penetrate a defender’s guard by opposing the stronger part (forte) of the attacker’s blade against the weaker part (foible) of the defender’s blade

envelopment:  a taking of the steel in which the defender engages the opponent’s extended, uses his own blade to quickly move the defender’s blade in a circle, returning the opponent’s blade back to the original line, frequently gliding along the blade to land a valid hit

enveloppement [Fr.]:  an envelopment

escrime [Fr.]:  fencing

esquive [Fr.]:  generally to dodge, duck, or sidestep the attacker’s attack

  • see also, volte, inquartata, intagliata, & passata sotto

expulsion [Fr., froissement; It., sforza]:  an attack on the blade in which the fencer forcefully slides his blade down and out against the opponent’s blade, displacing the opponent’s blade

  • see also, attack on the blade; froissement; & scrape

extension:  the full extension of the sword arm which establishes a foilist’s or sabreist’s priority


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F

false attack: a probing action

  • Fr., fausse attaque

feint:  a faked attack designed to provoke the defender’s response, either as a probing action or to allow for the attacker’s deceive

fencing time:  the time it takes to execute a single fencing action (such as an advance or simple attack)

fendente [It.]:  in saber, a descending cut

feinte simple [Fr.]:  a single feint

fianconata [It.]:  a flanconade

filo [It.]:  (1) the cutting edge of a blade; (2) a glide

finding the blade:  to make contact with the opponent’s blade with your own blade, absent considerations of pressing or deviating the blade

  • see also, engagement; sentiment du fer; & trouver d’épée:

first intention:  a description of an attack that is not predicated upon the defender’s parry-riposte

  • cf. second intention

five [Fr., quinte]:  see quinte

flanconnade [Fr.]:an attack in which the attacker first binds the opponent’s blade then glides along the bound blade to deliver a hit to one of the low lines, depending on how the opponent’s blade was taken

flying parry:  a parry-riposte in which a defender parries the incoming blade by striking, thereby deviating, and then continuing over the tip of the attacker’s blade, and immediately extending into the laterally-opposite line and readying the blade for the ensuing lunge

foist:  in knife fighting, to pass the knife from one hand to another

free fencing: informal, nonjudged fencing against a noninstructor and outside of a given drill

free-fencing privileges:  the privilege to free fence given by the CCF head instructor to a fencer

froissement [Fr.]:  an expulsion

  • see also, attack on the blade & scrape

foible:  the distal, weakest part of a blade (the third of the blade closest to the tip)

forte [Fr., “strong”]:  the proximal, strongest part of the blade (the third of the blade closest to the coquille)

four [Fr., quarte]:  in French fencing, a guard which protects the inside-high line


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G

gain measure:  to come within measure

gain on the lunge:  to bring the rear foot up against or close to the lead foot’s heel just before lunging in order to lengthen the lunge

gain the weak:  when engaging, parrying, executing a prise de fer, or entering through the weak, to place your blade’s strong against the opponent’s weak, so as to better dominate the opponent’s blade (sometimes, “gain the blade”)

gaucher [Fr.]:  a left-handed fencer

glide [Fr., coulé]:  a simple attack in which the incoming blade runs down the length of the defender’s blade, landing a hit to the target area

glissade:  a compound attack in which the attacker feints a glide and, upon the defender’s parry, disengages into an open line

guard:  the position of a fencer’s weapon used to defend the lines

 


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H

having the engagement:  in CCF, a phrase used to describe a fencer whose blade is engaged in such a way that his line is closed but his opponent’s is open (e.g., A would “have the engagement” when (1) A is in a sixte guard, (2) B’s foil is to the outside of A’s blade, and (3) B is in a quarte guard)

high line:  the two quadrants above the armed hand, i.e., the inside-high line and the outside-high line

  • cf. low line

historical fencing:  fencing as it was practiced in the West during roughly the 1600’s and 1700’s

horizontal plane:  in saber and cane fencing, the planes on which one delivers horizontally-directed strikes or cuts

  • cf. vertical plane


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I

in measure:  to be at one’s lunging distance against an opponent

in time:  a description of a fencing action taken at the appropriate moment, e.g., an attack launched when the defending blade is moving away from the line where the attack is occurring

indirect riposte:  a riposte that lands in a line other than the one in which the parry was made

imbrocatta [It.]:  a time thrust delivered against an attempted flanconnade to the outside-low line

in measure:  to be at one’s lunging distance against an opponent

infighting:  fencing at close distance

inquartata [It.]:a counter-attack in which, from the perspective of a right-handed en garde fencer, (1) the fencer reverse lunges obliquely to the right, (2) simultaneously extends the sword arm, timing the reverse lunge to evade the incoming thrust but land a touch against the opponent

inside-high line:  from the perspective of an en-garde, right-handed fencer, that part of the fencer’s target area to the left of the fencer’s weapon and above the fencer’s armed hand (for a left-hander fencer, the inside-high line is right of the weapon)

inside-low line:  from the perspective of an en-garde, right-handed fencer, that part of the fencer’s target area to the left of the fencer’s weapon and below the fencer’s blade hand (for a left-hander fencer, the inside-high line is right of the weapon)

inside line:  from the perspective of an en-garde, right-handed fencer, that part of the fencer’s target area to the left of the fencer’s weapon (for a left-hander fencer, the inside line is right of the weapon)

inside moulinet:  in saber and cane fencing, a moulinet executed in the inside line (i.e., from a right-handed fencer’s perspective, on the left side of the fencer’s body)

insistence:  delivering a valid touch with sufficient opposition that it lands despite an attempted parry

  • see coup droit d’autorité & entering through the weak

intagliata [It.]:  a counter-attack in which, from the perspective of a right-handed en garde fencer, the fencer (1) steps forward and obliquely left while (2) extending the sword arm, timing the step such that the fencer’s blade both opposes the opponent’s incoming thrust and lands on the opponent’s target area

intercepting parry:  a defensive action against an attempted bind that combines a dérobement with a change beat

invalid touch:  a touch outside of the target area

inverted disengage:  a vertical disengage in which the attacker’s hand shifts from a pronated position to a supinated position (or vice versa) when disengaging

inverted septime:  a vertical disengage in which the attacker’s hand shifts to a septime position with extreme opposition to the attacker’s left, aiming for the defender’s inside-low line

invitation:  a deliberate exposure of a line in order to induce the opponent’s attack


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J

judge:  an official observer in a judged bout who answers to the president’s questions regarding the validity of touches

judged bout: a bout which is officiated by a president and four judges


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K

knuckle guard:  the curved part of a small-sword or saber that protects the armed hand (sometimes, “knuckle bow”)

 


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L

la belle [Fr., “the beauty” or “the beautiful (one)”]:  the tie-breaking point in a bout

la canne [Fr., “the cane”]:  French cane fencing as practiced in the 19th century

La parata non esiste [It.]:  The parry does not exist, meaning that your defense should be your simultaneous attack.

lateral exterior: in cane fencing, a horizontal strike delivered to opponent’s cheek on his outside line

lateral interior:  in cane fencing, a horizontal strike delivered to the opponent’s cheek on his inside line

legamento [It.]:  in the Northern Italian School of fencing, a transport; elsewhere, the legamento is recognized as a bind

liement [Fr.]:  a bind

line: as determined by the position of the opponent’s armed hand, one of the four quadrants on a fencer’s target area—i.e., outside-high, outside-low, inside-high, and inside-low—into which we attack

line of direction:  the hypothetical line connecting two fencers’ front feet

long distance:  the distance between you and your opponent, when, in order to strike, you must advance and then lunge (sometimes “out-of-measure”)

  • see also, close distance, distance, and medium distance

low line:  the two quadrants below the armed hand, i.e., the inside-low line and the outside-low line

  • cf. high line

lunge:  the fundamental, offensive movement that a fencer uses to make a valid hit from measure, conducted with rapidity and in the following order:  (1) extension of the armed hand, (2) extension of the rear leg, thrusting the body forward, (3) lowering of the rear arm, and (4) landing on the front foot, knee over the ankle


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M

mal paré [Fr.,  lit. “badly parried”]:  a parry that insufficiently deviates or blocks the attacker’s weapon, allowing the attacker to validly hit the defender

  • cf. coup droit d’autorité

manchette [Fr., “cuff,” or “oversleeve”]:a saber cut or cane hit to the opponent’s arm

manipulators:  the armed hand’s middle, ring, and pinkie fingers

  • see also, aides

measure [Fr., mesure; It., misura]:  the distance one must travel to lunge and validly hit one’s opponent; sometimes a synonym for “distance”

mechanical edge:  the cutting edge of a weapon, such as a knife or saber (sometimes called the “true edge”)

Mediterranean cut:  in knife fighting, a thrust that enters the defender’s abdomen around the navel with the true edge upwards and is then pulled upward

medium distance:  the distance between  a fencer and an opponent when,  in order to land a valid touch, the fencer must lunge

  • see also, correct measure; distance; & measure

misura [It.]:  measure

modern fencing:  fencing as it was practiced during roughly the first half of the 20th century before the introduction of the electronic scoring machines

moulinet [Fr.]:  a strike in cane or sabre fencing executed by rotating the lead forearm at the elbow to deliver the strike

  • see also, inside moulinet; molinello; molinellomontante; molinelloristretto; outside moulinet; & reverse moulinet

molinello [It.]:  a moulinet

molinello montante [It.]:  a molinello with an ascending point

molinello ristretto [It., “restricted molinello”]:  a molinello made with a comparatively shallow arc, using more the wrist as the pivot point rather than the elbow


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N

neutral engagement:  an engagement in which neither fencer has a mechanical advantage over the other


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O

octave [Fr., “eighth”]:  in classical French foil, a supinated guard which protects the outside-low line

Olympic fencing:  fencing as it is practiced in the Olympic games, usually with an electric scoring apparatus

  • see also, postmodern fencing

on-guard:  a fencer’s basic ready position

  • Fr., en garde

oppose:  to close the line; if the opponent’s point is on your target area, to “oppose” his blade would be to press it laterally, deviating it from your target area; if you are thrusting, to oppose his blade could mean (1) pressing his blade laterally to gradually move it from the target as you thrust or (2) holding firmly the position of your wrist and blade so that the opponent cannot also hit you in the line in which you are attacking

  • see also, close the line

opposition [Fr., opposition]: (1) placement of a fencer’s blade and wrist which prevents the opponent’s attempt to thrust in that line:  an en garde defender’s opposition prevents an attack into any given line while an attacker’s opposition protects the attacker and hinders an attempted parry; (2) a prise de fer in which the attacker presses the opponent’s blade laterally aside as the attacker’s thrust is delivered

out of measure:  the distance between you and your opponent, when, in order to land a touch, you must advance and then lunge (sometimes “long distance”)

out of time:  description of a fencing action taken at the wrong moment, e.g., attacking into a line that is closing or when the opponent is ready and able to defend

outside-high:  from the perspective of an en-garde, right-handed fencer: that part of the fencer’s target area to the right of the fencer’s weapon and above the fencer’s armed hand (for a left-hander fencer, the outside-high line is left of the weapon)

outside-low:  from the perspective of an en-garde right-handed fencer, that part of the fencer’s target area to the right of the fencer’s weapon and below the fencer’s armed hand (for a left-hander fencer, the outside-high line is left of the weapon)

outside line:  from the perspective of an en-garde, right-handed fencer, that part of the fencer’s valid target area to the right of the fencer’s weapon (for a left-hander fencer, the outside line is left of the weapon)

outside moulinet:  in saber and cane fencing, a moulinet executed in the outside line (i.e., from a right-handed fencer’s perspective, on the right side of the fencer’s body)

  • cf. inside moulinet

over-lunge: shifting your weight too far forward on the lead leg when lunging, causing the angle to become acute rather than right

 


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P

parade circulaire [Fr.]:  a circular parry

parry:  the defender’s movement of the blade used to deflect the attacker’s incoming blade

pas d’âne [Fr.]:  the coquille on a small-sword (note: many sources recognize that the modern tendency is to incorrectly refer to the pas d’âneas the two ringed branches supporting a small-sword’s coquille, i.e., its pas d’âne)

passe arrière [Fr., “pass backward”]:  a cross-over retreat

passe avant [Fr., “pass forward”]:  a step in which, from the en garde position, the fencer places his rear foot in front of the lead foot and the latter is immediately replaced forward, returning the fencer to the en garde position

passé [Fr., “passed”]:  an attempted touch that does not land with the point, but instead passes or slides along the target area

  • cf. plaqué

pattinando [It., “skating”]:  an extension quickly followed by a rapid and fluid advance and lunge

pied ferme [Fr., “firm footing”]:  (1) immobility; (2) executing fencing actions without any movement of the feet, such as in a drill

piste [Fr.]:  the fencing strip

planes of attack:  the planes on which a circular attack is delivered, such as in la canne, saber, or knife fighting

plaqué [Fr.]:  term used to describe an attempted hit by a thrust weapon that does not land with the point, but instead lands flat against the target area

  • cf. passé

pommel:  the weighted knob at the end of a foil, small-sword, dueling sword, or sabre

postmodern fencing:  fencing that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century, frequently with an electrical scoring apparatus, a de-emphasis on form, and an emphasis on speed

preparation:  an action that a fencer takes to prepare an attack, such as a beat or feint

president:  the lead official in a judged bout who directs the bout and has one-and-a-half votes  (sometimes called “the director”)

pression [Fr.]: a pressure

pressure:  an attack on the blade in which the fencer presses his blade’s medium or forte against the weak of the opponent’s blade in order to open a line

prime [Fr., “first”]:  a pronated guard which protects the inside-high line

priority:  in foil and sabre fencing, the convention that establishes (1) the attacker’s right to attack and (2) the defender’s obligation to sufficiently deviate the attacker’s blade before the defender can attack; priority goes to the fencer who extends his sword arm first, and is transferred to the defender by his deviation of the attacker’s properly-executed attack

  • see also, extension;  synonymous with right of way

prise de fer [Fr.]: a taking of the steel

probing actions:  actions that a fencer takes—e.g., sudden changes in speed, a feint, repeated changes of engagement—that are not intended to land a valid hit but instead to provoke the opponent’s reactions in order to strategically assess those reactions

pronated:  placement of the armed hand with palm-side down; in classical French foil, the pronated guards include prime, seconde, tierce, and quinte

  • cf. supinated


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Q

quarte [Fr., “fourth”]:  a supinated guard which protects the inside-high line

quillons:  the cross-guard on the hilt of a rapier or small-sword, situated perpendicularly to the blade

quinte [Fr., “fifth”]:  a pronated guard which protects the inside-low line


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R

rassemblement [Fr., a “gathering”]:  a counter-attack in which the defender (1) extends into the attack while displacing his own target area upward and back by pulling his lead foot back to his rear foot, (2) straightens his knees, and (3) lowers his rear arm

reassemblement:  a rassemblement, to perform a rassemblement

redouble:  from the lunge position, to replace the rear foot close to the front foot in order to lunge again, thereby making a new attack; to perform a redouble

redoublement:  a redouble

remise [Fr., a “return” or “replacement”]:  an immediate replacement of the point on the defender’s target area after the attack missed or was parried and without withdrawing the sword arm, without returning en garde, and before the defender ripostes

reprise [Fr., a “resumption” or “retaking”]:  a different attack that a fencer makes immediately after returning en garde (also, reprise d’attaque)

retreat:  a fencer’s single step backwards

reverse cut:  in knife fighting, a cut that starts in the inside line and cuts towards the outside line

reverse lunge:  a backwards lunge in which the fencer (1) extends the sword arm, (2) steps back with the rear foot into a lunge position, bending the front leg as necessary, and (3) lowers the rear arm

right-of-way:  priority

riposte:  an attack delivered immediately after a parry

riposte by temps perdu:  an indirect riposte that deceives an attempted parry

romper [Fr., “to break”]:  to break distance by retreating out of measure


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S

salle d’armes [Fr.]:  a fencing training room or hall (sometimes salle)

scarto [It.]: in sabre fencing, an action in time in which a fencer displaces his upper body rearward, allowing the opponent’s descending cut to pass, and then counterattacks

sciabola [It.]:  sabre

scrape: a lesser-used synonym for an expulsion

  • Fr., froissement
  • see also, disarmament

second intention:  an action taken that is designed to induce the opponent’s responding offensive action which is subsequently seized upon by the attacker; an attack predicated on the defender’s parry-riposte.

  • cf. first intention

seconde [Fr.]:  in French classical fencing, a pronated guard which protects the outside-low line

sentiment du fer [Fr.]:  a fencer’s ability to use his sword to feel and manipulate the opponent’s sword

septime [Fr., “seventh”]:  in classical French foil, a supinated guard which protects the inside-low line

sevensee septime

sforza [It.]:  an expulsion

simple attack:  an attack that is executed in one motion and in a single fencing time

simple parry:  a parry executed by travelling directly—either laterally, vertically, or diagonally—to the threatened line

sixsee sixte

sixte [Fr., “sixth”]:  in classical French foil, a supinated guard which protects the outside-high line

stop cut:  in sabre, a stop hit that uses a cut to deliver the arrest

stop-hit:  an action in time in which the fencer attacks during the feint of the opponent’s attempted compound attack, stopping the opponent’s attack in its progress  (also, an “arrest”)

stop-thrust:  a stop hit that uses the point to deliver the arrest

straight thrust:  a simple attack which, without any deliberate contact with the opponent’s blade, starts from and ends in the same line

supinated:  placement of the armed hand with palm-side down; in the classical French school, the supinated guards include quarte, sixte, septime, and octave


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T

tac au tac:  a onomatopoeic description of a parry and riposte by detachment

tac riposte: a riposte that immediately follows a parry and then attacks in the same line

taking of the steel [Fr., prise de fer]:  a preparation on the attack in which a fencer uses his blade to maneuver, displace, or otherwise dominate the opponent’s blade

  • see also, bind, croisé, disarmament, envelopment, opposition, and scrape (Fr., froissement)

target area:  the area on a fencer’s body on which a touch can be scored; the area varies according to the weapon

  • in foil, the target area is the fencer’s entire torso—from the shoulders (but not the area covered by the mask’s bib) to the groin lines
  • in épée, the target area is the entire body
  • in saber, the target area is from the waist up

three-finger bend:  term used to describe the bend in a foil which lands with sufficient force to mimics the force necessary for a sword to penetrate layers of clothing and flesh (that is, a blade bend of approximately two to three inches)

tierce:  a pronated guard which protects the outside-high line

time-thrust: a counter-attack that the defender executes upon the attacker’s final blade movement (that is, the thrust intended to touch the defender), which simultaneously defends through opposition and touches the attacker

thrust:  an extension intended as an attack

touch:  the placement of a foil’s or épée’s tip or a saber’s cutting edge or tip on a fencer

touche [Fr., “touch”]:  a valid hit

touché [Fr., “touched”]:  to be validly hit

touche donée [Fr., “touch given”]:  a term describing a fencer who lands a valid touch

touche reçu [Fr., “touch received”]:  a term describing a fencer who receives a valid hit

toucher et ne pas l’être [Fr.]: “to touch and not be touched,” the axiom of classical fencing, attributed to Molière, and the CCF motto

tour d’épée [Fr., “a tour of the blade”]:  a composed attack composed of a cut-over and disengage (or vice versa)

transport:  a taking of the steel in which the fencer uses his blade’s forte to manipulate his opponent’s nonextended blade to the diagonally-opposite line

  • cf. bind (distinguished by acting upon the opponent’s extended blade)

traversone:  in sabre fencing, a diagonal cut across the chest or abdomen

trompement [Fr.]:  a deceive

trouver d’épée [Fr., “to find the blade”]:  in small-sword, to make contact against the opponent’s blade with your blade, but without attempting to deviate the opponent’s blade


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V

valid hit:  a touch landed on the target area with sufficient force; in foil, the action of landing your foil’s button on your opponent’s target area with at least a three-finger bend

  • see three-finger bend

vertical disengage:  a disengage from a high line to a low line (or vice versa)

vertical plane:  in saber and cane fencing, the planes on which one delivers vertically-directed strikes or cuts

  • cf. horizontal plane

volte [Fr.]:  an esquive in which (1) the fencer straightens his legs, (2) turns his rear foot to off the line of direction a counter-attack in which, from the perspective of a right-handed en garde fencer, the fencer straightens his legs, stands upright; obliquely turns the rear foot to the right less than 45º off the line of direction, landing on the ball of the foot and thus removing the inside high line from attack; (3) extends the left arm; and (4) thrusts to the opponent’s high line (usually over the opponent’s arm)


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Y

yielding parry:  a ceding parry

Sources

Crown, Adam Adrian, Classical Fencing:  The Martial Art of Incurable Romantics (2001).

Evangelista, Nick, The Art and Science of Fencing (1996).

Gaugler, William M., The Science of Fencing:  A Comprehensive Training Manual for Master and Student; Including Lesson Plans for Foil, Sabre and Épée Instruction (1997).

Prevost, Camille & Jollivet, G, L’Escrime et Le Duel (1891).

Selberg, Charles, The Revised Foil (1984).

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