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; double touches are not allowed (see priority rules below).
- Épée — a heavy thrusting weapon; the valid target area covers the entire body; double touches are allowed.
- 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); double touches are not allowed (see priority rules below).
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.'
- 1 History
- 2 Forms of fencing
- 3 Modern weapons
- 4 Protective clothing
- 5 Practice and techniques
- 6 Links
- 7 People of Fencing
- 8 Links
- 9 Fencing masters of the pre-Olympic era
- 10 Famous duelists and fencing enthusiasts
- Main article: Historical European Martial Arts
The first handbooks on fencing, especially the book written around the 12th century by De Serpente brothers, or the most complete Flos Duellatorum of 1409 by Fiore de Liberi, were published in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance. In those days many Italian masters such as Marozzo taught their art in France and other countries, working as mercenaries and masters of defence.
In the 16th century, compendia of older Fechtbücher techniques were produced, some of them printed, notably by Paulus Hector Mair (in the 1540s) and by Joachim Meyer (in the 1570s).
In the 16th century German fencing had developed sportive tendencies. The treatises of Paulus Hector Mair and Joachim Meyer derived from the teachings of the earlier centuries within the Liechtenauer tradition, but with new and distinctive characteristics. The printed fechtbuch of Jacob Sutor (1612) is the last in the German tradition.
The Italian school is continued by the Dardi school, with masters such as Antonio Manciolino and Achille Marozzo. From the late 16th century, Italian rapier fencing attains considerable popularity all over Europe, notably with the treatise by Salvator Fabris (1606).
Early modern period
Template:See The European dueling sword in the narrow sense is a basket and cage hilted weapon in use specifically in duels from the late 17th to the 19th century. It evolved through several forms of the rapier to the smallsword — reflecting the evolution from a cutting style of swordplay to a thrusting style ('foining'). This was a result of increasing specialization in their use to the duelling field and the social stigma attached to carrying and using swords associated with the actual "work" of warfare. The smallsword and the last stage of the rapier were made possible only by metallurgical advances in the seventeenth centuryTemplate:Fact.
The foil was invented in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century in order to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the blade or fastening a knob on the point ("blossom", French fleuret). In addition to practising, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. German students took up that practise and developed the Pariser ("Parisian") thrusting small sword for the Stoßmensur ("thrusting mensur"). After the dress sword was abolished, the Pariser became the only weapon for academic thrust fencing in Germany.
Since fencing on thrust with a sharp point is quite dangerous, many students died from their lungs being pierced (Lungenfuchser), which made breathing difficult or impossible. However, the counter movement had already started in Göttingen in the 1750s. Here the Göttinger Hieber was invented, the predecessor of the modern Korbschläger, a new weapon for cut fencing. In the following years, the Glockenschläger was invented in East German universities for cut fencing as well.
1800 to 1918
Thrust fencing (using Pariser) and cut fencing (using Korbschläger or Glockenschläger) existed in parallel in Germany during the first decades of the 19th century - with local preferences. Thrust fencing was especially popular in Jena, Erlangen, Würzburg and Ingolstadt/Landshut, two towns where the predecessors of Munich university were located. The last thrust Mensur is recorded to have taken place in Würzburg in 1860.
Until the first half of the 19th century all types of academic fencing can be seen as duels, since all fencing with sharp weapons was about honour. No combat with sharp blades took place without a formal insult. For duels with non-students, e.g. military officers, the academic sabre became usual, apparently derived from the military sabre. It was a heavy weapon with a curved blade and a hilt similar to the Korbschläger.
As it is commonly understood today, classical fencing is best represented by the 19th and early-20th century national fencing schools, especially the Italian and the French schools, although other pre-World War II styles such as the Russian and the Hungarian are also considered classical. Masters and legendary fencing figures such as Giuseppe Radaelli, Louis Rondelle, Masaniello Parise, the Greco brothers, Aldo Nadi and his rival Lucien Gaudin are considered examples of this period.
Fencing was one of the disciplines at the 1896 Summer Olympics.
Scoring was done by means of four judges who determined if a hit was made. Two side judges stood behind and to the side of each fencer, and watched for hits made by that fencer on the opponent's target. A director followed the fencing from a point several feet away from the centre of the action. At the end of each action, after calling "Halt!", the director would describe the action, and then poll the judges in turn. If the judges differed or abstained, the director could overrule them with his vote.
This method was universally used, but had limitations. As described in an article in the London newspaper, The Daily Courier, on June 25, 1896: "Every one who has watched a bout with the foils knows that the task of judging the hits is with a pair of amateurs difficult enough, and with a well-matched pair of maîtres d’escrime well-nigh impossible." There also were problems with bias: well-known fencers were often given the benefit of mistakes (so-called "reputation touches"), and in some cases there was outright cheating. Aldo Nadi complained about this in his autobiography The Living Sword in regard to his famous match with Lucien Gaudin.
The article in the Daily Courier described a new invention, the electrical scoring machine, that would revolutionize fencing.
1918 to present
Dueling went into sharp decline after World War I. After World War II, dueling went out of use in Europe except for rare exceptions. Training for a duel, once fashionable for males of aristocratic backgrounds (although fencing masters such as Hope discuss how many people would only ever take one or two lessons and consider themselves trained), all but disappeared, along with the classes themselves. Fencing continued as a sport, with tournaments and championships. However, the need to prepare for a duel with "sharps" vanished, changing the emphasis in training and technique.
Starting with épée in the 1930s, side judges were replaced by an electrical scoring apparatus, with an audible tone and a red or green light indicating when a touch landed. Foil was electrified in the 1950s, sabre in the 1980s. The scoring box reduced the bias in judging, and permitted more accurate scoring of faster actions, lighter touches, and more touches to the back and flank than were possible with human judges.
Forms of fencing
Contemporary fencing is divided in three broad categories:
- Competitive fencing
- Fencing as a Western martial art
- Other forms of fencing
There are numerous inter-related forms of competitive fencing in practice, all of which approach the activity as a sport, with varying degrees of connectedness to its historic past.
Olympic fencing (or simply "fencing") refers to the fencing seen in most competitions, including the Olympic Games and the world cup. Competitions are conducted according to rules laid down by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), the international governing body. These rules evolved from a set of conventions developed in Europe between mid 17th and early 20th century with the specific purpose of regulating competitive activity. The three weapons used in Olympic fencing are foil, épée, and sabre. In competition, the validity of touches is determined by the electronic scoring apparatus, so as to minimize human error and bias in refereeing.
Three weapons survive in modern competitive fencing: foil, épée, and sabre. The spadroon and the heavy cavalry-style sabre, both of which saw widespread competitive use in the 19th century, fell into disfavour in the early 20th century with the rising popularity of the lighter and faster weapon used today. The singlestick was featured in the 1904 Olympic Games, but it was already declining in popularity at that time. Bayonet fencing experienced a somewhat slower decline, with competitions organized by some armed forces as late as the 1940s and 1950s.
While the weapons fencers use differ in shape and purpose, their basic construction remains similar across the disciplines. Every weapon has a blade and a hilt. The tip of the blade is generally referred to as the point. The hilt consists of a guard and a grip. The guard (also known as the coquille, the bell, or the bellguard) is a metal shell designed to protect the fingers. The grip is the weapon's actual handle. There are a number of commonly used variants. The more traditional kind are approximately straight and terminate with a pommel (a heavy nut intended to act as a counterweight for the blade). In the case of foil and épée, these have been surpassed in popularity by a variety of ergonomic designs, often collectively refereed to as pistol grip (the way they are held resembles how one holds a pistol). All of the weapons used for modern competition have electrical wiring which allows them to register a touch on the opponent.
- Main article: Foil (fencing)
The foil is a light and flexible weapon, originally developed in the mid 17th century as a training weapon for the smallsword (a light one-handed sword designed almost exclusively for thrusting).
The target area is restricted to the torso. Up until 01/01/2009, the bib of the mask is not valid target. From 01/01/2009, valid target will include that part of the bib below a straight line drawn between the shoulders, under the rules of fencing's international governing body, the Federation International d'Escrime. If you hit your opponent with any part of the foil other than the tip, it has no effect whatsoever - fencing continues uninterrupted. A touch on an off-target area stops the bout but does not score a point. There are right of way or priority rules, which determine which fencer's hit will prevail when both fencers have hit. The basic principle of priority is that the hit of the fencer who begins an offensive action first will prevail over his/her opponent's hit unless the original fencer's action fails. A fencer's action fails when it falls short of his/her opponent, misses, or is parried. When one fencer's action fails, the other's current or next offensive action gains priority, unless they delay too long (longer than one period of "fencing time" - the time taken to perform one action at the current tempo of the exchange), in which case the previously defending fencer loses this right. If priority cannot be determined when both fencers have hit each other, no point is awarded. The original idea behind the foil rules was to encourage the fencers to defend and attack vital areas, and to fight in a methodical way with initiative passing back and forth between the combatants, thus minimizing the risk of a double death.
When an exchange ends in a hit, the referee will call "halt", and fencing will cease. The referee will then analyse the exchange and phrase it in official terminology. The first offensive action is called the attack. All defensive actions successfully deflecting an opponent's blade are called parries. The first offensive action preceded by a parry is called a beat-attack. An offensive action of a parrying fencer directly following the parry is called a riposte. An offensive action of a fencer, who attacks without first withdrawing the arm directly after being parried, is called a remise. An offensive action of a fencer from the on-guard position, after being parried and then returning to the on-guard position, is called a reprise. An offensive action of a fencer after his/her opponent has lost the right to riposte via inaction is called a redouble. An offensive action begun by a fencer who is being attacked by his/her opponent is called a counter-attack.
In modern competitive fencing 'electric' weapons are used. These have a push-button on the point of the blade, which allows hits to be registered by the electronic scoring apparatus. In order to register, the button must be depressed with a force of at least 4.90 newtons (500 grams-force) for at least 15 milliseconds with 3 significant figures of accuracy. Fencers wear conductive (lamé) jackets covering their target area, which allow the scoring apparatus to differentiate between on- and off-target hits.
- Main article: Épée (Fencing)
Épée, as the sporting weapon we know today, was invented in the second half of the 19th century by a group of French students, who felt that the conventions of foil were too restrictive, and the weapon itself too light; they wanted an experience closer to that of an actual duel. At the point of its conception, the épée was, essentially, an exact copy of a smallsword but without the needle-sharp point. Instead, the blade terminated in a point d'arrêt, a three-pronged contraption, which would snag on the clothing without penetrating the flesh.
Like the foil, the épée is a thrusting weapon: to score a valid hit, the fencer must fix the point of his weapon on his opponent's target. However, the target area covers the entire body, and there are no rules regarding who can hit when (unlike in foil and sabre, where there are priority rules). In the event of both fencers making a touch within 40 milliseconds of each other, both are awarded a point (a double hit), except when the score is equal and the point would mean the win for both, such as at in the modern pentathlon one-hit épée, where neither fencer receives a point. Otherwise, the first to hit always receives the point, regardless of what happened earlier in the phrase.
The 'electric' épée, used in modern competitive fencing, terminates in a push-button, similar to the one on the 'electric' foil. In order for the scoring apparatus to register a hit, it must arrive with a force of at least 7.35 newtons (750 grams-force) (a higher threshold than the foil's 4.9 newtons), and the push-button must remain fully depressed for 1 millisecond. All hits register as valid, unless they land on a grounded metal surface, such as a part of the opponent's weapon, in which case they do not register at all. At large events, grounded conductive pistes are often used in order to prevent the registration of hits against the floor. At smaller events and in club fencing, it is generally the responsibility of the referee to watch out for floor hits. These often happen by accident, when an épéeist tries to hit the opponent's foot and misses. This results in a pause in the action but no points. However, deliberate hits against the floor are treated as "dishonest fencing," and penalized accordingly.
- Main article: Sabre (fencing)
Sabre is the 'cutting' weapon: points may be scored with edges and surfaces of the blade, as well as the point. Although the current design with a light and flexible blade (marginally stiffer than a foil blade) appeared around the turn of the 19th and 20th century, similar sporting weapons with more substantial blades had been used throughout the Victorian era.
There is some debate as to whether the modern fencing sabre is descended from the cavalry sabres of Turkic origin (which became popular in Central and Western Europe around the time of Napoleonic Wars) or one of Europe's indigenous edged duelling weapons, such as the cutting rapier. In practice, it is likely to be a hybrid of the two. Most of the conventions and vocabulary of modern sabre fencing were developed by late 19th and early 20th century masters from Italy and Hungary, perhaps most notable among them being Italo Santelli (1866–1945).
The sabre target covers everything above the waist, except the hands (wrists are included) and the back of the head. Today, any contact between any part of the blade and any part of the target counts as a valid touch. This was not always the case, and earlier conventions stipulated that a valid touch must be made with either the point or one of the cutting edges, and must arrive with sufficient force to have caused a palpable wound, had the weapon been sharp. These requirements had to be abandoned, because of technical difficulties, shortly after electronic scoring was introduced into sabre fencing in late 1980s.
Like foil, sabre is subject to right of way rules, but there are some differences in the precise definition of what constitutes a correctly executed attack and parry. These differences, together with a much greater scoring surface (the whole of the blade, rather than the point alone), make sabre parries more difficult to execute effectively. As a result, sabre tactics rely much more heavily on footwork with blade contact being kept to a minimum.
The clothing which is worn in modern fencing is made of tough cotton or nylon. Kevlar was added to top level uniform pieces (jacket, breeches, underarm protector, lamé, and the bib of the mask) following the Smirnov incident at the 1982 World Championships in Rome. However, kevlar breaks down in chlorine and UV light, so the act of washing one's uniform and/or hanging it up in the sun to dry actually damaged the kevlar's ability to do the job.
In recent years other ballistic fabrics such as Dyneema have been developed that perform the puncture resistance function and which do not have kevlar's weakness. In fact, the FIE rules state that the entirety of the uniform (meaning FIE level clothing, as the rules are written for FIE tournaments) must be made of fabric that resists a force of 800 newtons (1600N in the mask bib).
The complete fencing kit includes the following items of clothing:
- Form-fitting jacket covering groin and with strap (croissard) which goes between the legs (note that in sabre fencing, jackets that are cut along the waist and exclude the groin padding are also sometimes used), a small gorget of folded fabric is also sewn in around the collar to prevent a blade from slipping upwards towards the neck.
- Under-arm protector (plastron) which goes underneath the jacket and provides double protection on the sword arm side and upper arm. It is required to not have a seam in the armpit, which would line up with the jacket seam and provide a weak spot.
- One glove for the sword arm with a gauntlet that prevents blades from going up the sleeve and causing injury, as well as protecting the hand and providing a good grip
- Breeches or knickers which are a pair of short trousers. The legs are supposed to hold just below the knee.
- Knee-length or Thigh high socks which should cover knee and thighs.
- Shoes with flat soles and reinforcement on the inside of the back foot and heel of front foot, to prevent wear from lunging.
- Mask, including a bib which protects the neck. The mask can usually support 12 kilograms of force, however FIE regulation masks can stand much more, at least 27 kg.
- Plastic chest protector, mandatory for female fencers. While male versions of the chest protector are also available, they were, until recently, primarily worn by instructors, who are hit far more often during training than their students. Since the change of the depression timing (see above), these are increasingly popular in foil, as the hard surface increases the likelihood of point bounce and thus a failure for a hit to register. Plastrons are still mandatory, though.
- Fencing Masters will often wear a heavier protective jacket, usually reinforced by plastic foam to cushion the numerous hits an instructor has to endure. Sometimes in practice, masters wear a protective sleeve or a leg leather for protection of their fencing arm or leg.
Traditionally, the fencers' uniform is white in colour (black being the traditional colour for masters). This may be to some extent down to the occasional pre-electric practice of covering the point of the weapon in dye, soot, or coloured chalk in order to make it easier for the referee to determine the placing of the touches. Recently the FIE rules have been relaxed to allow coloured uniforms (black still being reserved for the coaches). The guidelines delineating the permitted size and positioning of sponsorship logos are however still extremely strict.
Practice and techniques
- Main article: Fencing practice and techniques
A fencing bout takes place on a strip, or piste, which, according to the current FIE regulations, should be between 1.5 and 2 meters wide and 14 meters long. There are at least three people involved: two fencers and a referee. The referee may be assisted by two or four side-judges (also known as corner-judges). The arrival of the electronic scoring apparatus has rendered them largely redundant. Under current FIE rules, a fencer may ask for two side-judges (one to watch each fencer) if (s)he thinks that the referee is failing to notice some infringement of the rules on his opponent's part (such as use of the unarmed hand, substitution of the valid target area, breaching the boundary of the piste etc.).
Very specific rules govern the behavior of fencers while competing. To begin a bout, the referee stands at the side of the piste. The fencers walk on piste fully dressed, aside from the mask. If necessary, they plug their body wires into the spools connected to the electronic scoring apparatus and test their weapons against each other, to make sure everything is functioning. They then retreat to their on-guard lines. Prior to starting a bout, the fencers must salute first each other, then the director. Refusal to do so can result in a fencer's suspension or disqualification. They may also choose to salute the audience and/or the referee's assistants (when they are present).
The fencers start and stop the bout at the referee's command. Generally, referees interrupt the bout, whenever the electronic apparatus registers a touch (either on or off-target) or whenever one or both of the fencers break the rules of the game. Once the bout is stopped, the referee must explain his reasons for stopping it, analyze what has just happened, and award points or penalties. If a point has been awarded, then the competitors return to their on-guard lines; if not, they remain approximately where they were when the bout was interrupted. The referee will then restart the bout. This procedure is repeated until either one of the fencers has reached the required number of points (generally, 1, 5, 10 or 15, depending on the format of the bout) or until the time allowed for the bout runs out.
Fencing bouts are timed: the clock is started every time the referee calls "Fence!" and stopped every time he calls "Halt!" The bout must stop after 3 minutes of fencing (or 8 touches in sabre). In 15 point bouts, a 1 minute break occurs in between the 3 minute intervals. If 9 minutes of fencing time elapse in a 15 touch bout, or 3 in a 5 touch bout, the bout is over, and the current scores are taken as final. If the score is tied when time runs out, then the fencers go into an extra minute, at the beginning of which the referee randomly assigns "priority" to one of the fencers (generally done by coin toss). The first touch within the extra minute wins the bout. If neither fencer makes a touch during the extra minute, the winner is the fencer who had "priority".
At international events and large European events including Opens and those similar, all refereeing is in French, which is the official language of international fencing. In practice, neither the referee nor the fencers need anything more than the knowledge of a handful of key words and phrases (like "En garde. Prêt. Allez" to begin the bout and "Halte!" to interrupt it), coupled to a system of corresponding hand gestures. At domestic events, referees typically use the language of the country (for instance, to keep with the earlier example, "On guard! Fencers ready? Fence!" and "Halt!").
Priority ("right of way") rules
Foil and sabre are governed by right of way rules, according to which the fencer who is the first to initiate an attack (by straightening the arm). Commonly but incorrectly it is said that the person who parries receives right of way. Instead, the person who parries must initiate an attack to gain right of way; parrying just eliminates the opponents right of way and grants the defender the right to make a riposte. In the event of a double touch (both fencers landing a hit at the same time), only the fencer who had right of way receives a point. These rules were adopted in the 18th century as part of teaching practice. Their main aim was to discourage careless tactics, which result in simultaneous hits and, in a real duel, would leave both participants dead (the least desirable outcome). In both sabre and foil, there are rules regarding what can be considered a properly executed attack or parry.
Prior to the introduction of electronic scoring equipment, a referee (formerly called the president of jury) was assisted by four judges. Two judges were positioned behind each fencer, one on each side of the strip. The judges watched the fencer opposite to see if he was hit. This system is sometimes called "dry" fencing (USA) or "steam" (United Kingdom, Australia) fencing.
Electronic scoring is used in all major national and international, and most local, competitions. At Olympic level, it was first introduced to épée in 1936, to foil in 1956, and to sabre in 1988. The central unit of the scoring system is commonly known as "the box." In the simplest version both fencers' weapons are connected to the box via long retractable cables. The box normally carries a set of lights to signal when a touch has been made. (Larger peripheral lights are also often used.) In foil and sabre, because of the need to distinguish on-target hits from off-target ones, special conductive clothing and wires must be worn. This includes a lamé (a jacket with metal threads woven in), a body cord to connect the weapon to the system, a reel of retractable cable that connects to the scoring box and, in the case of sabre, a conducting mask and cuff (manchette) as the head and arms are valid target areas.
Techniques and tactics
At the most basic level, fencing revolves around the opening and closing of various lines of attack and defense. In order for one fencer to hit, the other must make a mistake and leave an "opening." Fencing tactics rely on a mixture of "open-eyes" opportunism and deliberate "set-ups", where the opponent is systematically fed false information about one's own intentions.
A great deal in fencing depends on being in the right place at the right time. In general, Olympic fencing has put a premium on balance, speed, and athleticism in footwork, somewhat diluting orthodoxies regarding the classical stances and methods. To a degree, this has led to increasing resemblance between fencing footwork and that of other martial arts, with the significant caveat that a scoring "touch" requires almost no power behind the blow, only timing and the ability to manipulate distance.
Fencing tournaments are varied in their format, and there are both individual and team competitions. A tournament may comprise all three weapons, both individual and team, or it may be very specific, such as an Épée Challenge, with individual épée only. And, as in many sports, men and women compete separately in high-level tournaments. Mixed-gender tournaments are commonplace at lower-level events, especially those held by individual fencing clubs. There are two types of event, individual and team. An individual event consists of two parts: the pools, and the direct eliminations.
In the pools, fencers are divided into groups, and every fencer in a pool will have the chance to fence every other fencer once. There are typically seven fencers in a pool. If the number of fencers competing is not a multiple of seven, then there will usually be several pools of six or eight. After the pools are finished, the fencers are given a ranking, or "seed," compared to all other fencers in the tournament, based primarily on the percent of bouts they won, then based secondarily on the difference between the touches they scored and the touches they received. Once the seeds have been determined, the direct elimination round starts. Fencers are sorted in a table of some power of 2 (16, 32, 64, etc.) based on how many people are competing. Due to the fact that it is highly unlikely for the number of fencers to be exactly a power of two, the fencers with the best results in the pools are given byes. The winner carries on in the tournament, and loser is eliminated. Fencing is slightly unusual in that usually no one has to fence for third place (the exception is if the tournament is a qualifying tournament with limited slots for continuation). Instead, two bronze medals are given to the losers of the semi-final round.
Team competition involves teams of three fencers. A fourth fencer can be allowed on the team as an alternate, but as soon as the fourth has been subbed in, they cannot substitute again. The modern team competition is similar to the pool round of the individual competition. The fencers from opposing teams will each fence each other once, making for a total of nine matches. Matches between teams are three minutes long, or to 5 points, and the points then carry onto the next bout, making team fencing one forty-five touch bout fought by six fencers. Unlike individual tournaments, team tournaments almost always fence for bronze.
People of Fencing
Harvested from Wikipedia in June 2008
Fencers & coaches of the Olympic era
- Fencer Mariel Zagunis earns honor of carrying United States (also known as USA) flag at start of 2012 Olympics
Austria (also known as AUT)
- Siegfried Flesch, Austrian saber fencer & Olympic bronze medalist
- Otto Herschmann, Austrian fencer (saber); one of only a few athletes to have won Olympic medals in different sports; won silver medal in sabre team competition in 1912
- Ellen Preis, Austrian fencer (foil), Olympic champion
Belarus (also known as BLR)
- Elena Belova (Novikova) - foilist, 1968 individual Olympic Champion, 1969 individual World Champion, member of winning Soviet team at 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympics and 1970, 1971, and 1974 World Championships
- Alexandr Romankov - foilist, regarded by some as the greatest foilist of the 20th century
- Viktor Sidjak - Olympic (1972) and World (1969) Champion, winner of the 1972 & 1973 World Cup, also member of winning team at 1968, 1976, and 1980 Olympics and at 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975, and 1979 World Team Championships; pupil of David Tyshler
Belgium (also known as BEL)
- Henri Anspach, Belgian fencer (épée and foil), Olympic champion
- Paul Anspach, Belgian fencer (épée and foil), 2-time Olympic champion
- Jacques Ochs, Belgian fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- Gaston Salmon, Belgian fencer (épée), Olympic champion
China (also known as CHN)
- Jin Jing - Chinese wheelchair fencer who became a national celebrity following an incident during the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay
- Ju-Jie Luan - Chinese fencer & coach, gold medalist for Women's Foil at 1984 Summer Olympics
Denmark (also known as DEN)
- Dr. Ivan Osier -- represented Denmark in 7 Olympic Games between 1908 & 1948. Participated in more Olympiads than any other athlete. Won only Olympic medal in 1912, a silver in Individual Epee. Won a total of 25 Danish National Championships in all 3 fencing weapons — foil, epee, and sabre. Was also Scandinavian Foil titleholder in 1920, 1921, 1923, 1927, 1929, and 1931; Epee Champion in 1920; and Sabre Champion in 1921, 1923, 1927, 1929, 1931, and 1933.
- Svetlana Chirkova-Lozovaja - The most successful Estonian fencer of the Soviet era. Olympic gold medal for Women's Foil team event at 1968 Summer Olympics, World champion in Women's Foil team event at 1971, silver 1969, individual World Championships bronze medal 1969.
- Kaido Kaabermaa - Estonian épéeist, bronze (1990) & gold (1991) at World Championships team event (as a part of Soviet Union team). Individual World Championships bronze (1999).
France (also known as FRA)
- Yves Dreyfus - French fencer (épée), national champion
- Lucien Gaudin - twice World Champion (1905 & 1918), won four Gold and three Silver Olympic medals covering all three weapons
- Laura Flessel-Colovic - French epeeist who, with two gold, a silver and two bronze medals, is current most successful female French sportswoman at the Winter or Summer Olympics.
- Alexandre Lippmann, French fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- Armand Mouyal - French fencer (épée), national champion
- Claude Netter, French fencer (foil), Olympic champion
- Christian d'Oriola - French Olympic and World Champion, named "Fencer of the 20th Century" by the FIE, International Fencing Federation, in 2001. Between 1947 & 1956 won four World Championships & six Olympic Medals, including two individual Gold (foil), one individual silver (foil), two team Gold (foil), and one team Silver (foil). In addition to four time Individual World Champion, four time team World Champion. Renowned for elegant style.
- Jean Stern, French fencer (épée), Olympic champion
Germany (also known as GER)
- Helene Mayer - German-Jewish foilist, won Gold at 1928 Summer Olympics & the 1929 World Championship, left for US in 1931, returned to represent Germany in 1936 Summer Olympics and won Silver, went back to US and was granted US citizenship, returned to Germany in 1952 and died of cancer in 1953, won US Championships 8 times
Great Britain (also known as GBR)
- Robert Bruniges - World Junior Foil Champion 1976, 3-time Olympian
- Richard Cohen - 5-time British sabre Champion, best known today as the author of "By the Sword", highly acclaimed book on the history of fencing
- Allan Jay - Epee & foil fencer; 4-time national champion
- Richard Kruse - Foilist, the most successful male British fencer for several decades, reached quarter-finals (L8) at the 2004 Summer Olympics, in 2006 won silver medal in Men's Foil at European championships, pupil of Ziemowit Wojciechowski
- Barry Paul - Foilist, 5-time British national Champion, 3-time Olympian and Managing Director of the only manufacturer of fencing equipment in the UK,
- Edgar Seligman - won British championship twice in each weapon
- James Williams - Sabreur, reached L16 at the 2000 Summer Olympics, known for flamboyant fencing style & fitness level, recently retired from competitive fencing
- Alex O'Connell Sabreur, Cadet Champion in 2005, ranked as Junior World number 1 for a while in 2007, only Brit to qualify for 2008 Beijing Olympics via zonal qualification in Europe
Hungary (also known as HUN)
- Ilona Elek, Hungarian fencer (foil), two-time Olympic champion
- Sándor Erdös, Hungarian fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- Dezsö Földes, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Péter Fröhlich - Hungarian master & Olympic coach
- Jenö Fuchs, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Támas Gábor, Hungarian fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- János Garay, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Oskar Gerde, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Aladar Gerevich - Hungarian sabreur; only athlete to win the same Olympic event six times.
- Pál Kovács, Hungarian fencer (saber), six-time Olympic champion
- Sándor Gombos, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Arpad Horvath, Hungarian fencer (epee) Won Hungarian Nationals in every single age group.Junior World Champion. Won multiple World cup events. USA NCAA Champion
- Rudolf Karpati - 6-time Olympic & 7-time World sabre Champion
- Endre Kabos, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Attila Petschauer, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Zoltan Ozoray Schenker, Hungarian fencer (saber and foil), Olympic champion
- Istvan Szelei, Hungarian fencer (Foil), 1980 & 1988 Olympic Squads.
- László Szabó - Hungarian master; defined a system for developing coaches and wrote "Fencing and the Master"; the only direct student of the legendary Italo Santelli to write of what he learned. Teacher of Olympic & World champions.
- Ildiko Uslaky-Rejtoe, Hungarian fencer (foil), 2-time Olympic champion
- Bela Valter - Hungarian master & Olympic coach
- Zsolt Vadaszffy - Hungarian Foil Champion and British Professional Epee Champion. Senior Coach to British Under-20 team for 8 years.
- Imre Vass - authored widely read guide to épée fencing
- Lajos Werkner, Hungarian fencer (saber), Olympic champion
- Francis Zold (1904-2003) - Hungarian fencing master and legendary promoter & teacher of fencing in post-war US; student of Italo Santelli; served as captain of Hungarian fencing team at London Olympics in 1948. Emigrated to United States following Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, and worked as fencing coach at a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Southern California and Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Died in 2003 at the age of 99.
- Bence Szabó, Hungarian fencer (sabre), two-time Olympic champion
- Tímea Nagy, Hungarian fencer (épée), two-time Olympic champion
Israel (also known as ISR)
- Boaz Ellis, at foil, 5-time Jewish Israeli national champion, and 3-time NCAA champion after his junior year at Ohio State University.
- Andre Spitzer (1945 – September 6, 1972), Jewish Israeli fencing master & coach of Israel's 1972 Summer Olympics team. One of 11 athletes and coaches taken hostage and subsequently murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Munich massacre.
Italy (also known as ITA)
- Edoardo Mangiarotti; has won the most Olympic titles and World championships than any other fencer in the history of the sport; a member of the Mangiarotti fencing clan.
- Aldo Nadi - won gold & silver medals at 1920 Olympics, during the Mussolini years emigrated to US, where he penned the influential "On Fencing" and his autobiographical notes entitled "The Living Sword," son of Beppe Nadi and brother of Nedo Nadi
- Nedo Nadi - won 6 Olympic Gold medals: three foil, two sabre, and one épée; son of Beppe Nadi and brother of Aldo Nadi
- Giorgio Santelli - born in Hungary, son of Italo Santelli, won Gold at 1920 Olympics as part of the Italian sabre team, emigrated to US in 1924, coach to 5 U.S. Olympic teams, legendary fencing teacher & popularizer, founder of Santelli salle in New York City.
- Italo Santelli - fencing master who revolutionized sabre fencing and developed the modern Hungarian style in the 1920s.
- Giulio Gaudini - won 3 Olympic Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze medals in three Summer Olympic Games (1928 Summer Olympics, 1932 Summer Olympics, 1936 Summer Olympics)
- Antonella Ragno-Lonzi - Individual Foil Olympic Champion 1972 Summer Olympics
- Fabio Dal Zotto - Individual Foil Olympic Champion 1976 Summer Olympics
- Mauro Numa - Individual and Team Foil Olympic Champion 1984 Summer Olympics, Individual and Team Foil World Champion 1985, Team Foil World Champion 1986
- Stefano Cerioni - Individual Foil Olympic Champion 1988 Summer Olympics
- Alessandro Puccini - Individual Foil Olympic Champion 1996 Summer Olympics
- Giovanna Trillini - won 4 Olympic Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze medals in four Summer Olympic Games (1992 Summer Olympics, 1996 Summer Olympics, 2000 Summer Olympics, 2004 Summer Olympics)
- Valentina Vezzali - won 4 Olympic Gold and 1 Silver medals in three Summer Olympic Games (1996 Summer Olympics, 2000 Summer Olympics, 2004 Summer Olympics)
Poland (also known as POL)
- Zbigniew Czajkowski - highly respected coach, coached Polish national squad for many years, has written over 25 books, has successful pupils in all weapons, including Ed Korfanty,Egon Franke, Elzbieta Cymerman, Jacek Bierkowski, Bogdan Gonsior, Magdalena Jeziorowska.
- Sylwia Gruchala - women's foil fencer, silver medalist at 2000 Olympic games in team event, bronze medalist at 2004 Olympic games in individual event, individual silver medalist at 2003 World Championship, many-time World Champion in team event.
- Ziemowit Wojciechowski - 3-time Champion of Poland, member of Polish Olympic squad at 1976 Olympics, defected to Great Britain in 1978, where he is renowned as a successful coach, pupils include Richard Kruse, Lawrence Halsted, and Camille Datoo. From 2003-2005 he taught part-time at Highgate School, London.
Portugal (also known as POR)
- Miguel Gomes - Portuguese fencing master & fencer (épée), national champion.
Russia (also known as RUS)
- Serguei Charikov - Jewish Russian sabreur, member of winning Russian teams at 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics
- Pavel Kolobkov - épéeist, Olympic Champion 2000, 5-time World Champion (1991, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2005), twice Junior World Champion (1987, 1988), winner of 1999 World Cup
- Grigory Kriss, Soviet fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- Viktor Krovopouskov - sabreur, 4-time Olympic Gold medalist (1976 & 1980 individual, and team), twice individual World Champion (1978, 1982), twice winner of World Cup (1976, 1979)
- Maria Mazina, Jewish Russian fencer (épée), Olympic champion
- Mark Midler - foilist, Jewish Russian member of first generation of internationally successful Soviet fencers, took Gold at 1956 & 1960 Olympics as a part of Soviet team, won four consecutive World Championships (1959-62).
- Vladimir Nazlymov - sabreur/coach, won individual World Championship in 1975 & 1979 and the World Cup in 1975 & 1977, took team Gold at 1968, 1976, and 1980 Olympics, and at 1967, 1969-71, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979 World Championships, twice named world's best sabre fencer by the FIE, currently head fencing coach of The Ohio State University fencing team.
- Gay Kriss Kross - Homosexual Russian Fencer who died in a office
- Boris Onishchenko - modern pentathlete, individual silver medallist and team gold medallist in 1972, disqualified in 1976 for using a rigged weapon
- Stanislav Pozdniakov - sabreur, Olympic (1996) & World (1997, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007) Champion, 7-time winner of the World Cup (1994-96, 1999-2002), member of winning Russian sabre team at 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics, and at 1994, 2001, 2002, and 2003 World Championships
- Mark Rakita - Jewish Russian sabreur, twice Olympic Champion (1964, 1968), World Champion in 1967, David Tyshler's pupil and a highly successful coach in his own right (pupils include Victor Krovopouskov, Michail Burtsev, and Viktor Sidjak)
- Alexander Romankov – Russian foilist, 10-time World Champion
- Yakov Rylsky - Jewish Russian sabreur, twice Olympic (1964, 1968) and 3-time World (1958, 1961, 1963) Champion, represented USSR over a period of 14 years (1953-66)
- Sergey Sharikov - Jewish Russian sabreur, twice Olympic Champion (1996, 2000)
- Viktor Sidjak - Soviet sabreur, 4-time Olympic Gold medalist
- Vladimir Smirnov - foilist, won individual Gold at 1980 Summer Olympics, won world championships in 1981, died at 1982 World Championships in Rome, when a broken blade went through his mask causing a fatal brain injury (through the left eye orbit--not the eye itself); his death prompted an extensive review of safety standards in fencing. Most notably it led to stronger masks (the mesh must withstand a 12 kg probe on a regular mask, 25 kg on an FIE mask. Smirnov's mask at the time of his injury was less than half as strong as the non-FIE masks of today when he obtained it. By the time of his injury, it had likely deteriorated from use and was even weaker) 800 Newton resistant fabric in the jacket, underarm protector, and knickers (1600 N in the mask bib) maraging steel blades in foil and epee (which, contrary to fencing urban myth, are not designed to "break flat." They simply break less frequently than carbon steel blades) and various rules re-clothing overlap and placement of zippers and seams. All of these changes were designed to minimize the chance of a blade getting through the protective clothing. Tragic though his death was, it ultimately resulted in making the sport statistically safer than golf.
- David Tyshler - Jewish Russian sabreur, member of the first generation of internationally successful Soviet fencers, won medals at 1956 Olympics and 5 World Championships, best known for his achievements as a coach, one of the founding fathers of the Soviet school of fencing, pupils include Mark Rakita, Viktor Sidjak, and Victor Krovopouskov
- Eduard Vinokurov - Jewish Russian sabreur, twice Olympic Champion (1968, 1976)
- Iosif Vitebskiy - Jewish Russian epee fencer, 19-time national championship medalist
South Korea (also known as KOR)
- Young Ho Kim - Olympic foil Champion 2000. Additionally, was down 11-3 to Sergei Golubitsky in the third and final period of the men's foil gold medal bout at 1997 World Championships. Since the necessary score to reach to win was 15 touches, most people would consider Kim to be fencing for pride at this point. Instead, he rallied and scored 8 touches in a row on Golubitsky -- seven of them being one-light hits -- to tie it up at 11 all. They then traded touches until Golubitsky won his first of three world titles 15-14.
Sweden (also known as SWE)
- Johan Harmenberg, Swedish fencer (épée), Olympic champion
Turkey (also known as TUR)
- Cem Salur, Turkish fencer (foil,épée) and Turkish Fencing Association champion
Ukraine (also known as UKR)
- Sergei Golubitsky - World foil Champion 1997, 1998, 1999; Winner of 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1999 World Cup, Olympic Silver Medalist 1992.
United States of America (also known as USA)
- Muriel Bower accredited first woman fencing master in the United States. Women's foil coach to the American team at the 1964 Olympic Games fencing events in Tokyo, managed the American women's fencing team at the World University Games, Russia, 1973, and served in protocol to fencing at the L.A. Olympic Games, 1984. She has subsequently served as West Coast Vice-President of the USFA Coaches Association for two terms, and also as President of Western Regional Intercollegiate Fencing Championships, USFA.
- Maitre Michel Alaux (1924-1974), French-American fencing master & author who bridged Classical and Modern Olympic fencing; in France, trained legendary French foilist Christian d'Oriola; invited to US & served 3 times as US Olympic coach (1964, 1968, 1972); coached several US Nationals; played key role in developing official standards for US fencing; developed professional requirements for US fencing masters & fencing master’s diploma; wrote about fencing; promoted fencing in commercial media; awarded Bronze (1949) & Gold (1952) Medal of Honor by French Govt.; inducted into Ordre des Palmes Academiques (1962); US Fencing Hall of Fame (2006).
- Norman Armitage, 17-time national sabre champion
- Albert Axelrod, Jewish American bronze medallist in the 1960 Summer Olympics in foil
- Abraham Balk, only man to win both foil & epeé NCAA championships (1947)
- Cliff Bayer, 4-time US foil champion
- Tamir Bloom, 2-time US epee champion
- Daniel Bukantz, Jewish American Olympian, U.S. Foil Fencer, Member of Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
- Delmar Calvert, personal coach for 17 national champions, former coach of Los Angeles Athletic Club
- Gay Jacobsen D'Asaro, 1976, 1980 Olympian U.S. Women's Foil Fencer (now Gay MacLellan)
- Michael D'Asaro Sr.
- Csaba Elthes, legendary coach to 6 U.S. Olympic teams, immigrated from Hungary
- Nick Evangelista, specializes in early 20th Century fencing, calling it 'classical' to distinguish it from current sport fencing.
- Sada Jacobson, Jewish American bronze medallist in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Sabre; first American female to be ranked # 1 in the world, and the second American ever to be ranked # 1 in the world.
- Dan Kellner, US foil champion
- Ed Korfanty, U.S. National women's sabre team coach. Formerly Polish national coach. Coach to 7 x Jr. World Sabre Champion Olympic Gold medallist & 2006 NCAA Champion Mariel Zagunis, 2004 Cadet Sabre champion, Caitlin Thomas, 2006 Cadet & Jr. World Champion Rebecca Ward, 2000 and 2005 U.S. World Champion sabre team. 2002, 2003, and 2006 World Veterans Champion in Men's sabre.
- Allan Kwartler, US foil & sabre fencer, winner of gold medals in Pan American Games and Maccabiah Games
- Fred Linkmeyer
- Michael Marx 5-time Olympian, Epee & Foil Coach, National Champion
- Helene Mayer, German & US fencer (foil), Olympic champion
- Sharon Monplaisir
- Lisa Piazza, member, 1985 U.S. World Championship team; first alternate, U.S. team, 1988 Olympics.
- Janice Romary, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 Olympian U.S. Foil Fencer.
- Giorgio Santelli, legendary coach to 5 U.S. Olympic teams (1928-52), Olympic Gold Medalist (1920 Men's Sabre Team), son of Italo Santelli (known as the "father of modern saber fencing" and an Olympic silver medal winner), fought duel after his father was insulted by Italian team Captain.
- Maitre Michel Sebastiani coached fencing at Princeton University from 1982-2006, and before that coached fencing at Brooklyn College, New York University (NYU), and Cornell. Coached his teams to 11 national championships. In 1994 and again in 2006 was named the most outstanding Coach of the Year by U.S. Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA). Developed 5 NCAA individual men's champions and 3 NCAA individual women's champions. Was a 1960 French Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team selection.
- Keeth Smart, first American to be ranked # 1 in the world, member of 2004 gold medal US Men's Sabre team at World Cup
- Jonathan Tiomkin, 2-time US foil champion
- Rebecca Ward, 2005 FIE Jr. World Champion at age 15. Part of U.S. Sr. Women's Sabre team that took 2005 World Championship title (other members were Sada Jacobson, Caitlin Thompson, and Mariel Zagunis. 2006 Cadet World Champion, 2006 Jr. World Champion, 2006 Jr. World Champion Team member, 2nd fencer in history to win 3 world titles in one season (Teammate Zagunis was the first).
- Peter Westbrook, bronze medallist in the 1984 Summer Olympics, 13-time US National Men's Sabre Champion, author of Harnessing Anger, founder of the Peter Westbrook Foundation, teaching and helping youth through sport.
- Mariel Zagunis, gold medallist in the first-ever Women's Sabre event at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Sabre; first American woman to win gold; first American to win gold since 1904.
- Julia Jones Pugliese first U.S. women's intercollegiate fencing champion (1929), founded the Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association (with Dorothy Hafner and Elizabeth Ross), first woman coach of an international US fencing team, coached NYU women's team 1932-38, and Hunter team from 1956-93
Fencing masters of the pre-Olympic era
- Camillo Agrippa
- Domenico Angelo
- Rocco Bonetti
- Ridolfo Capo Ferro
- Guillaume Danet
- Salvator Fabris
- Thibault Girard
- Giacomo di Grassi
- Achille Marozzo
- Vincentio Saviolo
- George Silver
- Andre Wernesson
Famous duelists and fencing enthusiasts
- Karl Marx
- Otto von Bismarck
- Tycho Brahe
- George Byron
- Winston Churchill
- René Descartes
- Bruce Dickinson
- Albrecht Dürer
- Jean-François Lamour
- Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery
- Benito Mussolini
- George S. Patton - General and U.S. Army Master of the Sword. Designer of the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber. 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the first modern pentathlon competition (Ranked 1st in fencing - 8th overall).
- José Rizal
- Theodore Roosevelt