skip navigation

Glossary of Fencing Terms

No, there won't be a quiz. But we did want to share a few of the words you might hear at your fencing club as you learn the sport.

Fencing Glossary

Term Definition
Advance Taking a step towards one’s opponent.
Attack Movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point. In foil and saber, the fencer who attacks first acquires the “right‐of‐way.”
Beat Sharp tap on the opponent’s blade to initiate an attack or provoke a reaction.
Engagement Contact between the fencers’ blades – often as the prelude to an attack.
En Garde Position taken before fencing commences.
Feint A false attack intended to get a defensive reaction from the opposing fencer, thus creating the opportunity for a genuine attack (“feint‐disengage attack”).
Fleche Explosive, running attack (Foil and Epee only).
Flunge Action unique to saber – a combination of a lunge and a fleche. Evolved recently after the FIE modified saber rules in 1992 to prohibit running attacks.
Guard Part action in which a fencer blocks his opponent’s blade.
Lunge Most common attacking technique, in which the fencer launches themselves at their opponent by pushing off from the back leg (which generally remains stationary).
Parry Defensive action in which a fencer blocks his opponent’s blade.
Piste French term for the fencing strip.
Point‐in‐Line Action in which the fencer, who is generally out of attacking range, points their weapon at their opponent with their arm fully extended. A fencer who establishes a point in line has right‐of‐way, and their opponent cannot attack until they remove the blade from line by executing a beat.
Recover The return to the en guarde position after lunging.
Riposte Defender’s offensive action immediately after parrying their opponent’s attack.
Second Intention A tactic in which a fencer executes a convincing, yet false, action in hopes of drawing a true, committed reaction from their opponent.
Stop Hit, Stop Cut (saber) A counter‐action made at the moment of an opponent’s hesitation, feint, or poorly executed attack. To be awarded the point, the fencer attempting to stop hit must clearly catch their opponent’s tempo. Hence, if their Stop Hit is not “in time,” the referee may award the touch to their attacker.
Strip Fencing area, 14 meters long by 2 meters wide (approximately 45.9 feet long by 6.6 feet wide).