Sport involving attack and defense with a light sword, specifically a foil, épée, or sabre. There is evidence of swordplay from ancient times through the Middle Ages. In the 14th century swordplay became important in both war and the European gentleman's daily life, and by the 15th century guilds of fencing masters had formed. Strokes that were originally jealously guarded secrets of the individual guilds eventually became orthodox fencing moves. By the later 17th century various rules and conventions had been imposed. In modern competitionexcept for sabre matcheshits are made with the point only; in matches using foils and sabres, touches to only certain points of the opponents body are counted, whereas in épée no such restrictions apply. Each valid hit scores one or more points. Men's fencing was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, women's in the 1924 games. Electrical scoring was introduced in 1936 to eliminate the frequent inaccuracy of human judgment.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on fencing, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up fencing? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.