Know Your Weapon: Foil

Did you know? There are actually three different weapons used in fencing - the foil, the epee, and the sabre. Each is unique both in shape and in the way they are used in the sport. But how can you tell the difference?? SFA is here to get you in the know. This week, we'll go over the foil.

                                                         A left-handed foil at SFA.

                                                         A left-handed foil at SFA.

The foil has a flexible rectangular blade - approximately 35 inches in length. It weighs under a pound and features a small bellguard. It's light weight and flexibility allow the foil fencer to attack from tight, unpredictable angles - making foil fencing a very precise sport.

At the tip of the blade is a button - this button must be pushed by attacking the opponent within the valid target area in order to score a touch (point). For foil, this consists of part of the neck and the entire torso - from the shoulders to the groin in the front and the back. This area is covered with a metallic vest, called a lame, that allows the scoring machine to register a touch.

Touches in foil fencing are regulated by a system known as 'right of way.' Right of way is used to allot points to the fencer with higher priority in the event that each fencer lands a touch at the same exact time. This generally means that the fencer who first initiated the attack receives the point, but there are many complexities to right of way - enough for an entire blog post! Keep your eyes peeled...

Next week, the epee!!