The USA Fencing Referees' Commission, along with the US SEMI Committee, has issued the following clarification regarding the change to the USA Fencing Rules of Competition regarding chest protectors for foil fencers that was approved on April 12:
1) The rule in m.25.4 that chest protection for foil fencers must be covered by a soft material applies to ALL chest protection, regardless of style. The soft material addresses issues of competitive balance caused by the foil requirements for tip debounce, and as such, there will be no exceptions.
2) We are aware that manufacturers may not offer older-style "hubcap" protectors that conform to the rules. Therefore, fencers are allowed to retrofit their existing protectors to bring them into compliance with the rules--that is, by attaching the required soft material to the protector. These retrofitted protectors are NOT required to have the manufacturer/FIE mark, but retrofitted protectors must be inspected at equipment check to ensure that they comply with the rules. Once inspected, the technician will apply the competition's inspection mark.
3) Some fencers have indicated that they wear their chest protection in such a way as to make a referee's inspection potentially invasive. For these fencers, the inspection technicians can issue the fencer an external marker (such as a card or token) that indicates their chest protection has passed inspection. The fencer may present this marker to the referee in lieu of showing the actual inspection mark on the protector itself, if the protector is worn in such a way as to make inspection invasive. The referee may ask the fencer to demonstrate, as unobtrusively as possible, that the inspected protection is indeed present under their conductive jacket/fencing jacket/plastron."
On April 12, the USA Fencing Board of Directors approved a change to the USA Fencing Rules of Competition regarding chest protectors for foil fencers.
Per Section m.25.4(c):
“At all weapons, the use of a breast/chest protector (made of metal or some rigid material) is compulsory for women and optional for men. At foil, this breast /chest protector must be worn below the protective plastron. At foil, the protector will have the following characteristics: The entire outside of the chest protector (the side facing the opponent) must be covered with a soft material such as E.V.A. (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) of four mm thickness and density of 22kg/m3. (The material can be attached to the current plastic models or incorporated into the manufacture of new chest protectors). The material must have the SEMI technical mark at the center of the upper edge.”
This rule is in line with the rule change made at the 2017 FIE Congress which began implementation at the 2018 Junior and Cadet World Championships. The rule is applicable to foil fencers ONLY.
The change will be effective beginning with the USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge on June 28, 2018 for all Division I, Cadet, Junior and Veteran USA Fencing national events.
Beginning Aug. 1, 2018, the rule will take effect for ALL USA Fencing sanctioned events.