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© Maitre d'Armes Gary Worsfield




ABSENCE OF BLADE: When there is no contact with the blades.

A verbal reply from a judge/president in non-electric foil / sabre judging indicating doubt as to the touch.

ADVANCE: A step forward.
ADVERTISSEMENT: Warning – a caution referring to a breach of the rules.

The last three fingers of the sword hand which (aid) the manipulators (the thumb and the index finger) with

finger work in controlling the sword.

ALLEZ Used to start the bout – "en garde / on guard", ............ "prêt? / ready?", ....... "allez ! / fence!".
APPEL: A slap of the front foot.  It was once used with a feint or beat, preceding the lunge.
ATTACK (ATTAQUE): The initial offensive action made by extending the arm and continuously threatening the opponent’s target.

A category of PREPARATIONS OF ATTACK that include: beat, pressure, froisement and graze / coule.

BACKWARD LEAP: A jump backwards.
BALESTRA: A jump forward. Usually combined with a lunge, example: balestra, lunge.
BARRAGE: A fence off bout when there is a tie with victories for first place. An additional bout that determines the result when there is a tie.

A preparation of attack.  An attack on the blade.  A crisp tap made against the opponent’s blade.

BREECHES: The pants of a fencing uniform. Knickers in the USA.
BIB: The material part of the mask protecting the neck.

A preparation of attack. A taking of the blade made diagonally across the body from high to low line or vise-versa.

BODY CORD: The electrical wire running up the sleeve and down the jacket connecting the weapon with the reel cord.
BOUT:  A formal fight between two fencers in which touches are counted to determine a result.

When the normal flow of a sequence is intentionally delayed in its execution.

CADENCE: The flow or rhythm of a movement or sequence of movements.

Yielding parry.  A parry that partially gives way to an opposition.  Used against takings of the blade.

CHANGE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1.         Any state where the line of engagement is changed.
2.         A preparation of attack. A taking of the blade (opposition) changing the line of engagement.
CHANGE BEAT: A beat preceded by a disengagement.
CLOSE QUARTERS: In-fighting where the fencers are still able to wield their weapons.
CLOSED LINES: Lines closed to attack.  An engagement of blades where one of the fencers is protected against a straight thrust from the other, for example, an engagement in the line of sixte closed.
COMPOUND ATTACKS: An attack composed of one or more feints and involving more than one period of fencing time.


An uninterrupted succession of takings of the blade.  See DOUBLE PRISES DE FER.
COMPOUND RIPOSTE:  A riposte composed of one or more feints and involving more than one period of fencing time.
COVERED: A position of guard, an engagement of blades, where one is protected against a straight thrust. See CLOSED LINES.
CUT-OVER / COUPE: A simple attack/riposte made by cutting over the opponent’s point.
CORPS-A-CORPS: Literally body-to-body contact. In fencing it can mean actual body-to-body contact (epee) or when the fencers are too close and are unable to wield their weapons.
COULE / GRAZE: A PREPARATION OF ATTACK. An ATTACK ON THE BLADE made by grazing along in an attempt to either create an opening or to provoke a reaction.

Circular parries taken in the wrong direction, ie: counter-quarte from sixte or counter-sixte from quarte.

COUNTER ATTACK: An attack made into the attack.


A simple indirect attack/riposte.  The deception of a change of engagement or a counter parry.
COUNTER OFFENSIVE ACTIONS: Offensive action delivered into an attack includes: the stop-hit, stop-hit with opposition and stop-hit by interception.
COUNTER PARRY: Circular parry.
COUNTER-TIME: A form of SECOND INTENSION.  A strategy where the initial action is used as an invitation to set up a tactic of second intention. There are three forms of COUNTER-TIME: 
1.   DEFENSIVE COUNTER-TIME uses defensive actions of PARRY-RIPOSTE, 
2.   OFFENSIVE COUNTER-TIME uses offensive actions of ATTACKS ON THE BLADE such as a BEAT to take over the PRIORITY
COUPE / CUT-OVER: A simple attack/riposte made by cutting over the opponent’s point.
CROISE:  A PREPARATION OF ATTACK. A taking of the opponent’s blade from a high line to a low line.
DELAYED: A form of BROKEN TIME generally refers to a riposte: parry - delay – riposte.
DEROBEMENT: The deception of an attempted TAKING OF THE BLADE or ATTACK ON THE BLADE. Should be preceded by a LINE.

Generally refers to the riposte (by detachment) after a parry.  In contrast to a parry riposte with opposition.

DEVELOPMENT: The combination of the extension of the arm and lunge.  The lunge itself is only the action of the legs.
DIAGONAL PARRY: A parry that describes a diagonal line across the body for example: the parry of septime from the sixte guard position, or the parry of quarte from octave.  
DIRECT: A thrust that stays in the same line as the engagement of blades.  

President or Referee. Historically comes from the President d’Jury, or the Director of the Judges when fencing

was officiated visually. With electrical scoring equipment we now officiate with a Referee.  

DIRECTOIRE TECHNIQUE: The D.T.   The committee responsible for the technical organization of a competition.  
DISENGAGEMENT: A simple indirect attack / riposte.    A deception of a lateral or semi-circular parry.  
DOUBLE: A compound attack / riposte composed of a disengage feint,  counter-disengage thrust.  
DOUBLE PRISES DE FER: A succession of TAKINGS OF THE BLADE where contact is lost and then regained.  See also COMPOUND PRISES DE FER.  
ENGAGEMENT:  Any state where blades are in contact. Can also refer to a TAKING OF THE BLADE (opposition).  
EN GARDE: ON GUARD  The basic position of readiness for either attack or defense.  
EN MARCHANT: SUR LA MARCHE  Generally refers to the PRIORITY of an attack made with a series of steps.  
ENVELOPMENT: A PREPARATION OF ATTACK. A circular Taking-of-the-Blade performed similar in direct as a counter-parry. 
FALSE ATTACK: An attack used to draw a reaction.  Used as SECOND INTENSION.  
FEINT: An offensive threat in an attempt to draw a parry.  A movement that simulates the start of an attack to draw either a parry or a reaction.  
FEINT PARRY:  Second Intension Defence.  DEFENSIVE COUNTER-TIME. Using an early attempt to parry as an invitation in an attempt to draw the attack to a particular area.  
FENCING MEASURE: The distance between two fencers.  
FENCING TIME:  The time it takes to perform a single fencing action.  
F.I.E.: Federation Internationale d’Escrime.  The International Fencing Federation. The world governing body for competition fencing organization.
FINGER WORK: Refers to finger manipulation of the grip in the control of the weapon.  
FLECHE: French for arrow.  A method of delivering an attack by leaning forward and launching as an alternative to the lunge.  
FOIBLE:  The weak section (top third) of the blade near the tip.  
FOOTWORK:  Refers to any action of the feet.  
FORTE: The strong section (bottom third) of the blade near the guard.  
FROISEMENT: An ATTACK ON THE BLADE. A strong sharp grazing action.  
GAINING GROUND: Advancing.  
GRAZE / COULE:   A PREPARATION OF ATTACK. An ATTACK ON THE BLADE made by sliding or grazing along in an attempt to either create an opening or to provoke a reaction.  
GRIP: i.   The manner in which the sword is held i.e. pinch grip.  
ii.  The handle of the sword i.e. French grip, pistol grip.  
GUARD:  The part of the weapon that acts to protect the hand.  
HANDSHAKE: The handshake (using rear hands) is the traditional conclusion to the formal fencing bout and lesson.  The Salute is the traditional start to a bout and lesson.
HIGH LINES:  Refers to the upper portion of the target.  
HIT: Touch / touché.  
IMMEDIATE:  Generally refers to a riposte made immediately after the parry.  

Refers to either attack or riposte that leaves the original line, viz:

Disengagement, Counter-disengagement & Cut-Over/ Coupe.  

INQUARTATA  A COUNTER-OFFENSIVE action made with a side step.  
INSIDE LINES: Refers to the portions of the target furthest from the sword hand.
INVITATION: Opening a line to invite an attack.  
JURY: Includes the PRESIDENT and the JUDGES who visually officiate over non-electric competition.  
KNICKERS: USA colloquial for fencing pants, breeches.  
LA BELLE: The deciding touch when the score is even.  
LAME’ JACKET: The metallic vest used in electric foil / sabre fencing.  
LATERAL PARRIES:  Parries that are performed in a lateral direction across the body.  
LINE: A state of PRIORITY when the arm is extended with point threatening the opponent’s target.  
LINES: Theoretical areas of target corresponding to the fencing guard positions.  
LUNGE: The classical way to deliver an attack. An action of the legs as distinct from the DEVELOPMENT which is an action consisting of the extension of the arm followed by the action of the legs.
LOW LINES: Refers to the lower portions of the target.  
MAITRE D’ARMES: Master of Arms. Fencing Master. Graduate of a recognized Fencing Academy.
MAL-PARRY: Also, mal-pare' - a parry that fails to prevent the attack from scoring.
MANIPULATORS: The thumb and index finger which act to manipulate and control the weapon.  
MARAGING: Refers to a special type of steel used in making blades - claim to be stronger, last longer and break more cleanly than conventional steel blades..
MARTINGALE: The finger-strap attached to the french-grip handle of an ordinary, non-electric foil.  
MASK: The head protection.  
NEUTON PROTECTION: 1600N is the current FIE protection rating of the fencing uniform and mask for international competition.  
OCTAVE: The 8th guard position, the 8th parry.  
ONE-TWO:  A compound offensive action consisting of a disengage feint, disengage thrust. A compound offensive action can be an attack, riposte, renewed-attack and counter-attack.

A position of the blades where one is open to attack against a straight thrust.  

OPPOSITION:  Refers to a TAKING OF THE BLADE / PRISES DE FER movement which closes the line and maintains contact of blades.  
ORTHOPAEDIC GRIP:   Refers to molded type handles colloquially termed PISTOL GRIPS.  
OUTSIDE LINES: Refers to the portions of the target closest to the sword hand.  
OVER-UNDER: Refers to a 1-2 compound attack feinting over and under the arm. Works particularly well with left to right and right to left hand fencers. Also see UNDER-OVER.  
PARRY: A defensive action made with the blade and used against an attack.  In foil and sabre fencing the parry also gains PRIORITY from the attack.  
PASSATA SOTTO:  A COUNTER-OFFENSIVE action used to avoid the attack by dropping the rear leg into the LUNGE position.  The backhand may touch the ground in the execution of the Passato sotto.  
PASSE’:  Past.  Refers to an action that passes the target and does not touch.  
PASSE ARRIERE: A RETREAT, stepping back crossing the legs.  
PASSE AVANT: An ADVANCE, stepping forward crossing the legs.  
PERIOD OF FENCING TIME: The time it takes to perform a single fencing action or combination thereof.  
PHRASE D’ARMES:  A fencing phrase, a sequence of actions.  
PINEAPPLE TIP Refers to an early serrated electric foil and epee tip.
PISTE: The field of play. Sometimes referred to as the "strip".
PISTOL GRIP:  Refers to molded type handles previously termed orthopedic grips.
PLAQUE' A point attack that "plucks", lands but doesn't register.  Does not constitute "power of penetration". No touch.

Coaching: The leather over-garment traditionally worn by the Fencing Master and now worn by all Fencing 

Coaches when giving individual lessons.

School Fencing Classes: The over-garment, now made of white polyester over a foam lining, that's worn by students during fencing classes. 

Competition:  Refers to the obligatory under-garment (sous plastron) designed to protect the armpit of the

sword arm.  

POINT D'ARRET - 3 PRONG 3 prong serrated epee tip used prior to electric epee fencing.
POINT IN LINE: A state of PRIORITY where the arm is straight and the point is threatening the opponent’s target.  
POMMEL:  The attachment at the end of the sword designed to secure the weapon together and act as a counter-weight for balance.  
PRIORITY:  Right of way.  The convention of foil and sabre fencing.  
PREPARATIONS-OF-ATTACK:  A category of movements which are made preparatory to the attack and used to either create openings or provoke reactions. This includes: Footwork, Attacks-on-the-Blade and Takings-of-the-Blade.

A Preparation-of-Attack. an Attack-on-the-Blade. after contact, a sharp pressure is applied to the 

opponent’s blade.  

PRIME: The 1st guard position. The 1st parry.  
PRINCIPLE OF DEFENCE:   The opposition of FORTE to FOIBLE.  
PRONATION: Refers to the position of hand with knuckles up.  
QUARTE: The 4th guard position. The 4th parry.  
QUINTE: The 5th guard position. The 5th parry.  
RASSEMBLEMENT:  A counter-offensive action, used in epee, made while bringing the front foot  back to the rear foot and raising the body upright into a standing position.   
RECOVERY:  The return to guard from the lunge.  

A RENEWED ATTACK made while on the lunge consisting of a combination of blade and hand movement.  


A RENEWED ATTACK while on the lunge made by replacing the point in the same line as it’s been parried, 

without any additional blade or arm movement.  


 A category of movements made after the original attack has been parried. Consists of REMISE, 


RETIRE: RETREAT. A  step back.  
RETREAT: A step back.  RETIRE.  

The flattened portion of the tang between the guard and the cross bar of an Italian foil.  

RIGHT OF WAY:  PRIORITY. The convention of foil and sabre fencing.  
RIPOSTE: The offensive action made after the parry.  
REPRISE: A RENEWED ATTACK made immediately after a return to guard.  
SALUTE: The traditional acknowledgement made with the weapon - foil to the sky, chin then down - preformed prior to a fencing bout or lesson.  The handshake - using rear hands - is the traditional conclusion preformed at the end of the bout/lesson.
SECONDE:  The 2nd guard position.  The 2nd parry.  

A fencing phrase where the initial action is used to set up a tactic of second intent. See COUNTER-TIME.

SEMI-CIRCULAR PARRY: A parry, which describes a semi-circle in its execution, for example the parry of octave from sixte.  

Refers to a sense of feeling of, with or through the blade.  Further, a feel of the blade is an acute awareness

of the tip.  

SEPTIME:  The 7th guard position.  The 7th parry.  
SIMPLE ATTACKS:  A category of attacks composed of a single blade movement and performed in one period of fencing time.  Includes: STRAIGHT THRUST, DISENGAGEMENT, COUNTER-DISENGAGEMENT and CUT-OVER.  
SIMULTANEOUS ATTACKS: Attacks initiated at the same moment.  
SIXTE: The 6th guard position. The 6th parry.  
STRAIGHT THRUST: Simple, direct attack in one period of fencing time.  
STANCE: The position of the feet and body when on guard / en garde.  


A COUNTER-OFFENSIVE action, which is performed while covering the attacking line.  

SUCCESSIVE PARRIES: A succession of parries used against COMPOUND ATTACKS.  
SUR LA MARCHE: An attack that involves more than one advance and which is performed smoothly, continuously and “on the march”.  
SUPINATION: Refers to the position of the hand with fingers facing up.  


A Preparation of Attack, which takes and controls the opponent’s blade.  Includes: Engagement and Change of Engagement/Oppositions, Bind, Criose and Envelopment.  

TANG: The section of the blade, which passes through the handle/ grip.  
TIERCE: The 3rd (pronated) guard position.  The 3rd parry.  
TROMPEMENT: Offensive blade action that deceives an attempt to parry.  All COMPOUND ATTACKS are trompements.  
TWO PRONG: Refers to a type of body-wire connection used in both electric foil and sabre.
TWO TIME: A movement made in two periods of fencing time.  
UNDER-OVER: Refers to a 1-2 compound attack feinting under and over the arm. Works particularly well with left to right and right to left hand fencers. Also see OVER-UNDER.  
VICTORY: Refers to winning a bout or team match.  The first determinate in ranking, is victories over bouts fenced.  
WARNING: A caution (advertisement) referring to a breach of the rules.  


In the past there were warning lines drawn across the piste placed 1 meter (foil) and 2 meters (epee/sabre)

from each end.  Fencers used to be stopped and warned of their position on the piste.  

WHIP - OVER: Colloquial term used to describe to touch in sabre fencing that results from the foible of the blade "whipping over" the opponent's guard or forte of the blade when parried.
WHITES: Refers to the fencing uniform.
X: X marks the spot. Initially the symbol of the heart was used on a plastron, like a "bulls-eye" for accuracy training.
YELLOW CARD: A warning or advertisement used to indicate a minor rule infraction by one of the fencers.
YIELDING PARRIES: CEDING PARRIES.  A parry that partially gives way to an opposition. Used against TAKINGS OF THE BLADE.  
ZORRO: You should know this one. Don Diego's Zorro.  It’s included to give you an A to Z GLOSSARY OF FENCING TERMS.  

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Date Last Modified: 07 May 2017