Foil Fencing

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If you prefer not having a headache, and an easier to learn form of fencing, you’ve come to the right place. Foil fencing is commonly known as one of the easier to understand forms of fencing, yet still a timeless, and electrifying sport. 

Many fencers choose to learn the foil first, because it pretty much teaches you the basic rules and techniques, and from there branching off to sabre and epee

If you’re already familiar with fencing you may already know that, however some of you may be asking right now; what is foil fencing? 

Foil fencing is a form of sword fighting using a foil fencing sword, played on a piste, and following typical fencing rules and style. Foil fencing also uses the right of way rule.

Probably the most easy to learn and classic style of fencing, the foil was the first of two disciplines of fencing introduced into the modern Olympics, during the first games in Athens, Greece, 1896.

Equipment for foil fencing

The star of the show when it comes to foil fencing equipment is the foil itself. That skinny, cunning, 90cm long blade with a bell shaped hand guard, that you can see fencers swinging faster than a bullet.

The equipment for foil fencing is generally the same as the other two styles of fencing. You must wear a fencing mask, one glove, lamé, and proper fencing pants (knickers). If fencing competitively, you’ll need a body wired from your sword to the buzzer.

These are mandatory, but you can obviously choose your underwear, socks, shoes (to an extent), and any sports equipment you may require.

Of course the option of the breast plate is always on the table as well, which you might personally prefer since the target in foil fencing is the torso (your opponent will desperately be trying to put a hole in your chest).

When practicing, it’s best to practice in the same attire you plan on wearing for competition. Just to better prepare you, however most fencers just practice in whatever they’re comfortable in (those knickers can really ride your derriere). 

Foil Fencing Rules

The rules of fencing foil are probably the easiest to comprehend. 

The main rules of foil fencing include the target area being the crotch, and torso, you must thrust and can’t score points with cuts, and basic fencing rules like staying within the piste, not stepping past your opponent, and not using your off hand in combat.

The Objective in Foil Fencing

The main objective in foil fencing is to touch the tip of your sword to the opponent’s torso or crotch. This includes anywhere on the back above the waist, and excludes the arms, neck and head. Also, unlike sabre fencing, you can’t use the side of your blade to score points.

Right in the target area

The smaller target area definitely makes it easier for new fencers to get used to the basic movements before branching off to any of the crazy motions used in epee or sabre.

Each on target touch counts as a point, unless both fencers touch at the same time, then only one fencer (the one with right of way) gets the points. And so whichever fencer reaches a predetermined number of points, usually fifteen, wins the match.

Each fencer steps on the piste, salutes the other, waits for the go ahead, and then fence!

Right of Way

The right of way rule does apply in foil. It also applies in sabre, but not epee. 

The right of way is also called priority, and it’s not a s difficult as some make it out to be.

Basically, the right of way rule applies when both fencers touch each other’s target area at the same time. The judges usually determine which player gets the point, by evaluating which fencer was fencing more aggressively, or initiated the attack.

This rule is basically used to get the fencers to fence more aggressively, and is affected by a few different factors.

But basically, as a foil fencer you are always going to want the right or way. So be sure to play aggressively, and stick your sword out as much as possible.

Foil fencing tips and strategies

The concept of foil fencing is pretty simple, however it’s a lot more of a mind game than a physician game.

With the smaller target area, you need to find the perfect timing to get your opponent’s chest open enough to land a hit. So faking out your attacks and getting them to flinch should definitely be up your sleeve.

Parrying and instantly reposting is probably the most useful technique to have, definitely practice that automatic riposte, and find ways to bait an attack from your opponent.

Keep practicing your parry and riposte until it’s automatic.

Overall, you kinda want to start slow. Get to know your opponent before making any dangerous moves that might cause you a point: Is your opponent aggressive? Are they scared of you? And then carry on accordingly.

Foil Fencing Techniques

The Thrust

The basic thrust is a given, in any form of fencing you’re going to want to practice your basic thrust, make sure it’s as accurate as possible. Even do some shoulder workouts to keep that thrust powerful and hard to parry.

There’s also the circle thrust where you’re going to fake a thrust in one direction, and circle under and around your opponent’s sword to land a hit on the other side. This is perfect for dodging those parries.

Practice these thrusts until they’re quick and accurate.  


On the contrary toi the basic thrust, there’s a basic parry. Your opponent tries to hit you with that thrust, beat it out the way.

There’s four general ways to parry attacks in each direction; up and to the right, up and to the left, down and to the right, down and to the left. 

Remember to riposte as soon as you parry.

As well as the circle parry, or the disengage. When your opponent tries to hit you with that circle thrust, spin your sword clockwise if they’re coming from the left, counter clockwise if they’re coming from the right.

Just make a tiny circle to catch their sword and redirect it.

Practice these parries, and remember to riposte!


The lunge is one of, if not the most important attack in fencing. It’s key to cutting the distance, and catching your opponent off guard to land the attack.

It’s also very important when wanting to achieve the right of way.

Fencing Parry
An absolute gem of a lunge

When thrusting, remember to extend your arm with the thrust a fraction of a second before you lunge.This shows the judges your intent to attack, and should instantly give you right of way.

All the power in the thrust should come from your back leg, but keep that foot planted on the ground so you could retreat quickly.

Practice doing this with perfect  form, slowly, and keep speeding up until you can explode!

There are many other kinds of lunges, but before we get too crazy, every fencer should perfect their basic lunge. It’s one of the deadliest weapons in foil fencing.

Olympic Foil Fencing

Foil fencing, along with sabre, was the first style of fencing seen in the modern Olympics, making an appearance in 1896 at Athens. As well as “master’s foil”

Since then foil fencing has been in every Summer Olympics games, except 1908 London where it was halted for unknown reasons. 

Currently there’s team fencing and individual in women’s and men’s for each style of fencing. And it’s getting more and more intense each year as technology progresses.

Prime example of awesome foil fencing

Overall, foil is defenitely great for any fencer, let alone beginners. It’s been fun for centuries and if a sport we all fell in love with.

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