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Step onto the piste and master the art of the blade!

Our guide to 30 essential fencing terms will turn whispers of “Who’s that?” into awed shouts of “Touche!” as you parry and lunge like a seasoned fencer.

Time to cross swords with the lingo—en garde, let’s thrust into action!

Must-Know Fencing Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Advance
  2. Bout
  3. Cross
  4. Disengage
  5. En garde
  6. Fleche
  7. Foil
  8. Guard
  9. Hit
  10. Lunge
  11. Parry
  12. Riposte
  13. Sabre
  14. Thrust
  15. Touché
  16. Epee
  17. Feint
  18. Point in line
  19. Reprise
  20. Right of way
  21. Piste
  22. Counter-attack
  23. Red card
  24. Yellow card
  25. Black card
  26. Corps-a-corps
  27. Halt
  28. Priority
  29. Engagement
  30. Off-target

#1 Advance

A fundamental footwork technique where a fencer takes a step forward towards their opponent. It’s used to close distance and is often the setup for more complex attacks or combinations.

#2 Bout

The term for an individual match in fencing, which consists of two fencers competing to score a set number of hits. A standard bout might go to 5 or 15 points, depending on the competition’s format.

#3 Cross

In fencing, a “cross” refers to a type of footwork where a fencer crosses one leg over the other while moving forward or backward. This movement can be used to close or increase distance quickly but comes with a risk of losing balance.

#4 Disengage

A maneuver designed to avoid an opponent’s attempt to parry by moving the weapon around the parry. It’s a deceptive move that can maintain offensive pressure and create openings for an attack.

#5 En grade

The ready stance that fencers adopt before beginning a bout or after a halt, where they face each other with weapons in hand. It signifies that both competitors are prepared to engage in combat.

#6 Fleche

An aggressive, leaping attack where a fencer sprints towards the opponent and extends their sword arm fully, attempting to land a hit and then passing by. It is dramatic and can cover a lot of ground quickly.

#7 Foil

A type of lightweight sword with a flexible rectangular blade used in one of the three forms of Olympic fencing. Foil fencers score by hitting the torso with the tip of the blade, adhering to right-of-way rules.

#8 Guard

The guard is both a position and a part of the fencing weapon. As a position, it refers to the defensive posture a fencer assumes to protect themselves and prepare for attacks. As a part of the weapon, the guard is the protective hilt that shields the hand from hits.

#9 Hit

In fencing, a hit refers to the action of successfully striking an opponent with the tip or edge of the weapon in a valid target area. It is essential for scoring points and determines the outcome of a bout.

#10 Lunge

A fundamental attacking movement where a fencer thrusts forward toward their opponent, extending their front leg and leading with their weapon. It’s a quick and direct way to attempt a hit while maintaining balance and control.

#11 Parry

A defensive technique where a fencer blocks or deflects an opponent’s attack, using their weapon to redirect the attacking blade away. Parries can be classified by their direction and are often followed by a riposte.

#12 Riposte

A riposte is an offensive action made immediately after a successful parry. It capitalizes on the opportunity created when an opponent’s attack has been blocked, allowing the fencer to launch a counterattack.

#13 Sabre

One of the three weapons used in fencing, characterized by a light, flat blade and a guard that covers the knuckles. Unlike foil and epee, sabre allows for scoring with both the point and the edge of the blade.

#14 Thrust

A straightforward attack where the fencer extends their arm and weapon towards the opponent’s target area. A thrust aims to score with the point of the weapon and is common in foil and epee fencing.

#15 Touché

In fencing, “touché” acknowledges a successful hit by an opponent on the valid target area, showing respect for their skill. Originating from the French word for “touched,” it signals a scored point and reflects the sportsmanship of the sport.

#16 Epee

The epee is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, characterized by its stiffer, heavier blade and a large guard. The entire body is a valid target in epee fencing, and points are scored solely through hits with the tip of the blade, not the sides.

#17 Feint

A deceptive movement or thrust intended to provoke a reaction from an opponent, feinting can create an opening to score. It’s a strategy used to mislead the opponent about the intended attack line.

#18 Point in line

“Point in line” refers to a position where a fencer’s arm is fully extended with the point threatening the opponent’s target area, establishing right of way. This defensive action requires the opponent to remove the threat before launching their attack.

#19 Reprise

A reprise is an additional action taken after an initial attack misses or is parried, without withdrawing the arm, often involving a renewal of the lunge or advance. It’s a way to maintain pressure and attempt another hit.

#20 Right of way

A rule in foil and sabre determining which fencer receives the point in the case of simultaneous hits. The fencer who initiates the attack correctly has the right of way unless parried or outmaneuvered.

#21 Piste

The piste is the playing area for a fencing bout, traditionally 14 meters long and between 1.5 to 2 meters wide. Its boundaries affect tactics, as stepping off can lead to penalties.

#22 Counter-attack

A counter-attack in fencing is a tactical move where a fencer strikes their opponent while they are launching an attack. It’s risky but can score by hitting before or during the opponent’s offensive action.

#23 Red card

In fencing, a red card is a penalty given for serious rule violations, such as refusing to obey the referee’s orders or deliberate brutality. Receiving a red card results in a point awarded to the opponent.

#24 Yellow card

A warning issued to fencers for minor rule infractions, like starting before “Allez” is called or causing a delay in the bout. A yellow card by itself carries no immediate penalty, but a second leads to a red card.

#25 Black card

The black card represents the most severe penalty in fencing, given for extremely serious offenses, including violent conduct or cheating. It leads to immediate expulsion from the competition and further disciplinary action.

#26 Corps-a-corps

Literally meaning “body-to-body,” corps-a-corps refers to physical contact between fencers during a bout. While incidental contact may not be penalized, deliberate corps-a-corps to avoid a touch can result in a card.

#27 Halt

The command given by a fencing referee to stop the action, often due to a rule infraction, safety concern, or when a touch is scored. Fencers must immediately cease engaging until “Fence” is called to resume the bout.

#28 Priority

Priority or right of way is a rule in foil and sabre fencing that determines which fencer receives the point if both hit each other. It is awarded to the fencer who initiates the attack first or who responds correctly to an attack. The concept helps define the flow of the bout and encourages offensive action.

#29 Engagement

Engagement in fencing refers to the contact between the fencers’ blades. This is a tactical action used to feel out the opponent’s intentions, gain control over the opponent’s blade, and set up further offensive or defensive actions.

#30 Off-target

This term applies specifically to foil fencing. The foil has a designated valid target area (the torso, including the back but excluding the arms, head, and legs). If a hit lands outside this area, it is considered “off-target.” An off-target hit stops the action, but no point is scored, and the fencers reset and continue the bout.


What are some Fencing terms for beginners?

“Advance,” “Lunge,” and “Parry” are some Fencing terms beginners should start with. These are fundamental actions used in footwork, attacking, and defensive maneuvers.

What are some funny Fencing terms?

“Fleche,” “Corps-a-corps,” and “Touché” are some funny Fencing terms that might tickle your funny bone, with their French origins adding a touch of whimsy to the sport’s vocabulary.

What is a famous Fencing phrase?

“En garde,” is a famous Fencing phrase, signaling the readiness to begin a bout, widely recognized as a universal call to action in the sport.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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