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2018 World Fencing Championship In Wuxi, China

by Andrew Zarowny, 7/25/2018


This past Sunday, the 2018 FIE World Championships of fencing began in Wuxi, China. 771 athletes from 108 countries are attending the 6-day event, a prelude to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan. There are really only two sports I will go out of my way to watch on TV, curling and fencing. True, I enjoy ice hockey and the America′s Cup yacht racing also. But ice hockey is on TV all year long, if you have any of the NHL channels. Even if you don′t, the NHL season lasts from August of one year till June of the next. But you don′t get to see much fencing action very often.




The Federation Internationale L′Escrime, or FIE, is the governing body which officiates the sport of fencing. It combines three divisions based on the type of weapon used, the foil, epee and the sabre, or, as we who speak English call it, the saber. Fencing started in Italy in Venice in the 12th Century, though its more modern form began in Spain in the 15th Century and is derived from ″defense″. Also often called, ″The Dance″, fencing was taught to maintain and improve sword fighting skills as the world began to turn more and more towards gunpowder weapons in warfare. People, mostly aristocrats, stopped carrying large, heavy battle swords. As metallurgy improved, smaller, lighter swords, such as the rapier became popular. By the late 18th Century, the French ″small sword″ became popular with the wealthy and the noble for self-defense and for dueling. Fencing began to evolve into a sport by the late 19th Century more so than a form of deadly combat.


The three weapons used in modern fencing each have unique characteristics and rules for competition. The foil, the smallest and lightest of the three has a maximum weight of 1.1 pounds. There is a very small circular guard for the hand and the grip is pistol-like in shape. During competition, a ″hit″, or ″touche″, is only scored when the tip of the foil strikes a defined area of the opponent′s torso, denoted by a special vest worn by each competitor. In the ″Olde Days″, tips were blunt and used colored chalk to show a hit on a white vest. Today, the weapons and clothing are wired and all scoring is done electronically using either a green light to note the player who scores and a red light who was hit, though human judges still settle disputes and such.


The epee is heavier, about 1.8 pounds, and is also a thrusting weapon. However, a hit is scored when the tip strikes anywhere on the opponent′s body, including the head. The sabre is the same weight as the foil, but with a larger guard protecting the whole hand. As saber′s in combat are ″cutting″ weapons, a hit is scored when any part of the blade strikes the upper body above the hips, including the head. In foil and sabre, when both competitors score hits within a quarter-second of each other, a judge or referee determines which fencer had the ″right of way″. In epee, such hits give each a point. In foil, a hit on a non-target area, a white light notes the player who was ″off target″ and play is stopped.


Competitors play three, 3-minute rounds, with the most points score determining the winner. The match ends sooner if one scores 15 hits before the other. When a hit, or off-target-hit, is scored, play stops momentarily as does the clock. Competitors resume starting positions and the clock is restarted. The action takes place on a track known as the piste, typically about 14 meters long and 2 meters wide. Competitors start at their En Garde lines, separated by 4 meters, 2 meters each from the center. The ends of the piste have a ″run-off″ area each 2 meters in length. If one competitor forces an opponent off one end of the piste, with both feet past the run-off, a hit or touche is scored. If a competitor is forced off on the sides of the piste, play stops immediately and the offended player is allowed a 1-meter advantage when play resumes.


The 2018 FIE World Fencing Championships in Wuxi, China are half over. Last night ended the 3 days of individual competition. Today begins 3 days of team competition. So, if you are looking for something fun, fast and exciting to watch, dial in the Olympic Channel for some hot fencing action. They usually start at 7pm EDT with a repeat at 10pm EDT and again at 10am the following day. They will also replay some of the competition on Saturday and Sunday as well. Check your local cable and satellite menus for channels and times. There is also a link at for watching online.


For more REAL NEWS and views follow Andrew Zarowny on MeWe, or on Twitter @mrcapitalist. Also follow Andy at his own website, Support this website via Patreon.

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