If you're thinking about getting into fencing, you've got to know your equipment. Most of the gear needed for practice can be purchased for as little as $150. Here's a rundown.

The equipment

  • Bayonet: a type of electrical connector for foil and saber

  • Baudry point: a safety collar placed around a live epee point to prevent dangerous penetration

  • Breast protectors: otherwise known as rice bowls, fit into the women's jacket

  • Button: the safety tip on the end of practice and sporting swords

  • Epee: a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light dueling sword of similar design, popular in the mid-19th century; epee de terrain; dueling sword

  • Foil: a fencing weapon with a rectangular cross-section blade and a small bell guard; any sword that has been buttoned to render it less dangerous for practice

  • French grip: a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel

  • Guard: the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit; also, the defensive position assumed when not attacking

  • Hilt: the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip and pommel


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  • Italian grip: a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar

  • Lame: a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil and saber

  • Pistol grip: a modern, orthopedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol; varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian and Visconti

  • Plastron: a partial jacket worn for extra protection; typically a half-jacket worn under the main jacket on the weapon-arm side of the body

  • Pommel: a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade

  • Saber: a fencing weapon with a flat blade and knuckle guard, used with cutting or thrusting actions; a military sword popular in the 18th to 20th centuries; any cutting sword used by cavalry

  • Two prong: a type of body-wire/connector, used in foil and saber

  • Whites: fencing clothing, includes jacket and knickers and glove (socks and shoes)

    The moves

  • Advance/retreat: step forward or step back to gain or maintain distance between two fencers

  • Attack: movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point against his opponent

  • Beat: sharp tap on the opponent's blade to initiate attack or threat of attack

  • Blade: part of the weapon that extends from the guard

  • Counter-parry: a defensive movement by which the fencer makes a small circle with the tip of the blade, around the opponent's blade and moves the opponent's blade away

  • Disengage: break of contact between fencers' blades; movement made by passing the blade under the opponent's blade

  • Engagement: contact of blades

  • En garde: position taken before a bout begins

  • Feint: a false attack intended to get a reaction from the opposing fencer that will open him up to a genuine attack

  • Fleche: a running attack

  • Guard: part of the weapon between the blade and handle; protects the hand

  • Lunge: most common attack in which the fencer closes the distance by moving the front leg forward while the back leg remains stationary and straightens out

  • Parry: defensive action in which a fencer blocks this opponent's blade

  • Piste: French term for the fencing strip

  • Recover: return to the en garde position after lunging

  • Remise: attacking again immediately after the opponent's parry of an initial attack

  • Riposte: defender's counterattack after parrying an attack

  • Strip: fencing area, 14 meters long by 2 meters wide

    Source: Las Positas Fencing Center