What is fencing?

What is fencing

In the broadest possible sense, fencing is the art of armed combat involving cutting, stabbing, or bludgeoning weapons directly manipulated by hand, rather than shot, thrown or positioned. Examples include swords, knives, pikes, bayonets, batons, clubs, and similar weapons. In contemporary common usage, ‘fencing’ tends to refer specifically to European schools of swordsmanship and to the modern Olympic sport that has evolved out of them.

Fencing is one of the four sports which has been featured at every modern Olympic Games. Currently, three types of weapon are used in Olympic fencing:

Foil — a light thrusting weapon; the valid target is restricted to the torso.
Épée — a heavy thrusting weapon; the valid target area covers the entire body.
Sabre — a light cutting and thrusting weapon; the valid target area includes almost everything above the waist (excluding the back of the head and the hands).

Etymology: The word ‘fence’ was originally a shortening of the Middle English defens, that came from an Italian word, defensio, in origin a Latin word. The first known use of defens in reference to English swordsmanship is in William Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’: “Alas sir, I cannot fence.”