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Q: I’ve seen fencing in movies and on TV. Is that what real fencing is like?
A: The sport of fencing comes from the original use of the weapons, Foil, Epee and Sabre. Sport fencing is based on the rules of combat for that particular weapon, and how it was used in battle or to defend one’s self. Television, theatrical or stage combat is designed to entertain and support the plot of the story being told. The movements are larger, bouts and matches take longer and the true use of the weapon is exaggerated.

Q: What are the age groups/ different classifications?
A: Age groups are classified from Youth 10 (Y10) to Under 19 in the Junior Competitions. Competitors over 20 are classified in the Senior category and athletes over 40 are considered Veterans, with Veterans World Championships starting at age 50. Classifications are based on competitive performance and range from U = unclassified, and then E to A = highest classification.

Q: How can you tell who wins a fencing match?
A: Bouts are scored in two ways. Preliminary bouts are usually fenced to 5 touches. Elimination bouts are fenced to 15 touches, except in the Veterans category (40 and older), which is fenced to 10 touches. Each weapon has a different target area and set of rules for scoring, but they are all scored electronically. The referee makes the final decision as to who wins the individual touches in the bout. So, depending on the age group and round of competition, the first person to get 5, 10 or 15 touches wins.

Q: On the fencing scoreboard, what do the different colors of lights represent?
A: The lights are assigned to each competitor. The competitor on the right side will have one color light, and the competitor on the left will have the other color light, usually red or green. When a fencer hits his opponent in a valid target area, his light will go on if the scoring machine registers it within a predetermined time. The time for each weapon varies and is programmed into the scoring machine. In the case of bouts involving foils, there is also a white light which registers if a touch “off target” or off the valid scoring area.

Q: Is fencing an expensive sport? How much does the equipment cost?
A: Fencing is not an expensive sport to get started in. Group lessons through fencing clubs are very reasonable, and rental equipment is usually available. A starter set of equipment starts at around $125 US. As you advance, competition equipment, private lessons and travel can be more costly, but that is an option to be considered only after you’ve been hooked on fencing like the rest of us.

Q: What sword is best for me?
A: The choice of weapon is one of personal preference. It depends on each individual’s personality type, body size, access to coaches and caliber of opponent. Traditionally, all fencers begin by learning the foil and then will go on to sample other styles of fencing before determining their favorite. Some fencers may even choose to train in more than one style of blade.

Q: Does it hurt when you get hit with a sword?
A: Usually not. It only hurts if you are wearing a jacket (protective covering) that is too light, and/or your opponent is hitting with a great deal of force.
Q: Do the rubber tips on the swords ever fall off?
A: “Never say never.” However, there is no need to worry. Though the rubber tip may come off on occasion in the midst of a non-electrical bout or practice session, the blade’s tip underneath is extremely dull. Should a tip come off a competitor’s blade, the action is stopped immediately and the tip replaced.


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