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What You Need to Know About Masks and Lames for Summer Nationals and Beyond

06/14/2022, 12:45pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

Fencers will want to be aware of some important uniform changes and reminders for Summer Nationals and beyond.


Clockwise from bottom left: A properly cut foil lame, the required Leon Paul strap and the FIE-approved design for the American flag mesh.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A fencer’s uniform looks great, creates an equal playing field for both competitors and — most importantly — keeps the fencer safe.

That’s why USA Fencing, in collaboration with the volunteer experts of the U.S. Electronic Signaling Equipment and Installations Commission (SEMI), regularly analyzes fencing uniforms and equipment to look for any necessary changes.

In that spirit, today we’re offering a trio of uniform updates and reminders.

One will take effect at Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, another is a reinforcement of an existing rule, and a third comes from the FIE (the International Fencing Federation) and applies to those fencers who plan to compete in a mask printed with an American flag on the mesh at an international event next season or beyond.

What Are the Updates?

We’re covering three uniform updates in this article. Here’s a quick summary. If you want more details on any of these, scroll to the corresponding section below.

  1. Leon Paul mask strap requirement: Fencers who wear the Leon Paul X-Change Contour Fit Fencing Mask will be required to use the Leon Paul Contour-Fit Plus mask strap. This change takes effect with the USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge (Summer Nationals) this July in Minneapolis.
  2. Foil lame reminder: Foil fencers must wear lames with straight, not curved, bottoms. This is merely a reinforcement to an existing rule after a recent increase  in nonconforming lames being brought to sanctioned tournaments
  3. American flag masks update: Beginning in the 2022-23 season, the FIE (the International Fencing Federation) will only accept American flag masks with the “wavy” design pictured lower down in this article. While fencers can continue using other American flag designs at domestic tournaments, the FIE will no longer accept these masks at international tournaments starting next season.

Fencers who wear the Leon Paul X-Change Contour Fit Fencing Mask will be required to use the Leon Paul Contour-Fit Plus mask strap seen here.

1. Leon Paul Mask Strap Requirement

The USA Fencing Board of Directors has ruled that, beginning at Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, fencers who wear the LP X-Change Contour Fit Mask must use the LP Contour-Fit Plus mask strap.

This requirement applies to all USA Fencing events in the U.S., including international, national, regional and local tournaments.

The LP Contour-Fit Plus mask strap can be purchased online and will be sold by Leon Paul at Summer Nationals.

As of Summer Nationals, all X-Change Contour-Fit masks (foil, epee and saber) must also be equipped with a bib with the appropriate attachments (rings on either side of the bib) to attach the strap. The bib’s attachments should be LP manufacturer-applied only.

These LP masks with the Contour-Fit disc assembly must have the strap:

  • X-Change FIE Contour Foil Mask
  • X-Change FIE Contour Epee Mask
  • X-Change FIE Contour Sabre Mask
  • Arena Contour Epee Mask
  • Horizon Foil Mask

If a fencer presents an LP mask without the strap attached at equipment check, the mask will not pass inspection, as it will be deemed “incomplete.” Fencers will be asked to remedy the mask simply by attaching the appropriate strap.

These LP masks do not have a Contour-Fit disc assembly, meaning the strap is not mandatory:

  • X CHANGE FIE Traditional Sabre Mask
  • X-CHANGE FIE Traditional Epee Mask
  • X CHANGE FIE Traditional Foil Mask
  • Arena Traditional Epee Mask

Fencers should be aware that:

  • Referees will not permit the use of the mask if the strap is missing.
  • The fencer may be subject to a penalty if a passed Leon Paul Contour X-Change mask is presented, on strip, without the strap. (Clothing/equipment not working or conforming; (t.45.1/2; t.45.3.a.ii;t.86.4)

Leon Paul will have an adequate supply of the magnetic safety straps at Summer Nationals and will be selling them to any fencer who needs one.



A straight-cut foil lame (left) will pass inspection, while a curved-cut foil lame (right) will not.

2. Foil Lame Reminder

At recent tournaments, USA Fencing armorers have observed that some foil lames presented for inspection have featured leg cutouts that are curved, not straight. These are not acceptable, per the USA Fencing Rulebook, and will not pass inspection.

Rule M28.6 reads:

The conductive jacket must be so made that when it is laid flat there is a straight line between the point of junction of the lines of the groin and the two points corresponding to the tops of the hip bones (ilium).

The curved-cut foil lame, informally known in the sport as a “bikini-cut” foil lame, does not conform to the rules. Fencers who present a curved-cut foil lame will fail the equipment check at USA Fencing competitions.



Top: An American flag mask design that WILL NOT be accepted by the FIE beginning in the 2022-23 season. Bottom: The accepted "wavy" design.

3. American Flag Mask Update

At international tournaments, many fencers choose to show their national pride by wearing fencing masks with the colors and design of their country’s flag.

To maintain consistency within a country’s fencing delegation, the FIE (the International Fencing Federation) requires that countries use only one flag design on their masks.

With that in mind, the FIE has informed USA Fencing that, beginning in the 2022-23 season, the FIE will only accept American flag masks with the “wavy” design.

While fencers can continue to wear masks with alternative American flag designs at domestic tournaments, the FIE will no longer accept these masks at international tournaments.

Fencers looking to update their mask for next season should note that vendors will be selling masks with the accepted design at Summer Nationals in Minneapolis.

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