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Wheelchair 101

The main object of wheelchair fencing is the same as for able-bodied competition. The first fencer to score 15 points (direct elimination) or five points (preliminary pool play) against the opponent wins. A point is awarded each time a fencer touches the opponent in the target area. Direct elimination matches consist of three three-minute periods. 

The rules for wheelchair fencing include the fixed distance between fencers; the fencing measurement for epee and saber is to the outer elbow and for foil is the inner forearm. The target for foil and saber competitions is exactly the same as for able-bodied competition. In epee, the target is everything above the waist, with a conductive apron worn below the waist to aid in cancellation of these touches.  Feet must remain on the footrest and the fencer must remain seated. The chair must be fixed at a 110 degree angle to the central bar.

Wheelchair Classifications

Internationally, competition is held in all three weapons – epee, foil and saber – with athletes competing in A, B and C classifications.

There are three categories of competition, based upon disability classification.  

The three categories are: A, B, and C, with each category indicating the degree of disability from least “A” to most severe “C.”  

For the Paralympic Games, the competitions are only for “A” and “B” fencers with separate competitions for each group. Category C fencing is not contested at the Paralympic Games.

An official classifier for IWAS determines the specific category for each wheelchair fencer.  Athletes compete according to category at international tournaments, but the categories are combined for competition at U.S. tournaments.  

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