The following is a listing of several fencing terms. This glossary has been compiled from official definitions from the International Fencing Federation (FIE).
Glossary of Terms in Fencing
Advance: To step forward.
Beat: A sharp tap on an opponent’s blade to initiate or threaten an attack.
Black card: A card from the referee signifying a fencer has been expelled.
Bout: A contest in its entirety between two fencers.
Centre line: A line across the piste, or field of play, dividing it into two equal halves.
Compound: An attack or counterattack involving several moves.
Corps-a-corps: A move involving body contact, where two fencers are engaged in a way that allows neither to use his or her weapon.
Counter-parry: A defensive move where a fencer makes a circular movement around the opponent’s blade and moves it away.
Disengage: To break contact between blades, done by one fencer passing his or her blade under the opponent’s blade.
Double hit: Successful contact with the sword by both fencers within .04 of a second, counted only in epee competition.
En garde: French for “on guard”, the position that fencers take before a bout begins or after a break in the action.
Engage: To make contact blade-to-blade.
Feint: A false attack designed to force an opponent into a reaction that opens the way to a genuine attack.
Fleche: A running attack. Illegal in sabre.
Hit: A point scored by a touch with the tip of the blade or, in sabre, the edge of the blade against any part of the opponent’s body in the target area.
Lunge: The basic attack in fencing where a fencer closes the distance between foes by moving the front leg forward while the back leg remains stationary and straightens out.
Octave: The eighth of eight defensive positions in fencing.
One-metre penalty: A penalty where the action is moved a metre further back on the piste for the offending fencer before a bout is restarted.
On-guard line: A line on each side of the centre line where a fencer stands to begin or resume a bout after a hit has been awarded.
Parry: A defensive action where a fencer blocks the opponent’s blade.
Penalty hit: A hit credited to a fencer when the opponent commits an offence after a warning.
Plastron: Protective clothing worn under a fencer’s jacket.
Prime: The first of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Quarte: The fourth of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Quinte: The fifth of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Recover: To return to the en garde position after lunging.
Red card: A penalty card from the referee signifying a penalty hit has been charged against a fencer for a rules violation.
Redouble: To attack an opponent a second time after the opponent fails to counterattack.
Remise: To attack again immediately after the opponent has blocked an initial attack.
Right of way: A rule established to eliminate virtually simultaneous attacks between two fencers in foil or sabre by allowing a referee to determine who was on offence at that moment and had “right of way” to score a point.
Riposte: A counterattack by a fencer who just has blocked an attack by the opponent with a parry.
Seconde: The second of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Septime: The seventh of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Simple: In one move, as in an attack or riposte involving a single move.
Simultaneous: A ruling of no hit when two fencers in foil and sabre hit each other at the same time with an attack, redouble or remise.
Sixte: The sixth of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Stop-thrust: A sudden counterattack made by extending without lunging.
Target: The portion of the opponent’s body which may be touched with the sword to score points.
Thrust: To extend the arm and sword toward the opponent.
Tierce: The third of eight defensive positions in fencing.
Touch: A hit with the point of the weapon or a cut with the edge of the sabre, scoring a point.
Warning line: A line two metres inside the rear line warning a fencer he or she is near the end of the piste.
Yellow card: A card from the referee signifying a warning has been issued to a fencer for violating a rule.