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Sabre fencing is one of the three disciplines of modern Olympic fencing, the other two being foil and épée. It is a combat sport where two fencers, known as sabreurs, compete to score points by using a sabre—a sword with a flexible, slightly curved blade, a bell guard, and a grip.

Key characteristics of sabre fencing include:

  1. Target Area: In sabre fencing, the target area for scoring points includes the entire upper body, from the waist up, including the head, arms, and torso. The legs are considered off-target and do not count for scoring purposes.

  2. Rules of Engagement: Fencers aim to hit their opponent’s target area with the edge or point of the sabre blade. Unlike épée, sabre fencing allows for both cutting and thrusting actions. Fencers can score points with a touch of the blade’s edge or point.

  3. Right of Way: Sabre fencing employs the concept of “right of way,” which determines which fencer has priority to score a point when both fencers attack simultaneously. The fencer who initiates an attack and maintains control of the attack has the right of way. The opponent must parry or evade the attack before attempting to score a point.

  4. Electronic Scoring: In modern sabre fencing, electronic scoring equipment is used to detect touches accurately. Each fencer wears a special metallic jacket, and the sabre itself is wired. When a valid touch is made on the opponent’s target area, a scoring light is triggered.

  5. Safety Measures: Fencers wear protective gear, including masks, gloves, jackets, and knickers, to prevent injuries during bouts. Masks have a metal mesh to protect the face, especially the eyes.

Safety in Sabre fencing

Sabre fencing is a dynamic and exciting sport that involves two opponents using sabres to score points by hitting valid target areas on their opponent’s body. Safety is a top priority in sabre fencing to prevent injuries. Here are some key safety procedures and guidelines for sabre fencing:

  • Proper Attire: Fencers must wear the appropriate fencing attire, which includes a fencing mask, jacket, glove, underarm protector (plastron), breeches, and fencing shoes. All equipment should be in good condition and approved by the relevant fencing organization.
  • Inspect Equipment: Fencers should regularly inspect their equipment to ensure that it is in good working order. This includes checking for any damage to the mask, glove, and jacket, as well as making sure the sabre blade is not bent or damaged.
  • Safety Mask: The fencing mask is crucial for protecting the fencer’s face and eyes. It should be securely fastened and free from any defects or holes. The mesh on the mask should be in good condition to prevent the penetration of the blade.
  • Glove: Fencers should wear a fencing glove on the hand that holds the sabre. The glove should provide adequate protection to the fingers and hand.
  • Protective Plastron: Underneath the fencing jacket, fencers should wear a protective plastron to cover the non-weapon arm and upper torso. This helps protect against accidental hits.
  • Sabre Inspection: Before each bout, fencers should inspect their sabre to ensure it is in good condition. The blade should be flexible but not damaged or excessively worn.
  • Proper Supervision: Fencing should only take place under the supervision of a qualified fencing coach or referee who enforces safety rules and regulations.
  • Respect Distance: Fencers should maintain a safe distance from each other when not actively engaged in a bout. This helps prevent accidental hits.
  • Controlled Movements: Fencers should execute movements and attacks with control and precision to minimize the risk of accidental injuries.
  • Proper Training: Fencers should undergo proper training to learn the techniques and strategies of sabre fencing. This includes footwork, attacks, parries, and ripostes.
  • Safety Signals: Fencers should be familiar with and responsive to safety signals given by referees or coaches during a bout. These signals indicate when to halt, resume, or address any safety concerns.
  • Reporting Injuries: Fencers should immediately report any injuries, no matter how minor, to their coach, referee, or medical personnel.
  • Sportsmanship: Fencers should always display good sportsmanship and respect for their opponents, coaches, and officials. Unsportsmanlike conduct can lead to penalties and disrupt the safe and fair play of the sport.

Remember that safety in sabre fencing is a shared responsibility among fencers, coaches, referees, and event organizers. Following these safety procedures and guidelines helps ensure that sabre fencing remains an enjoyable and injury-free sport.

Equipment used in Sabre fencing

  • Sabre: The sabre is the primary weapon used in sabre fencing. It has a flexible blade and a hilt with a bell guard, grip, and pommel. The blade is designed for thrusting and cutting motions.
  • Fencing Mask: A fencing mask is worn to protect the fencer’s head and face. It has a strong metal mesh that covers the front and sides of the head. The mask is securely fastened with a strap to ensure it stays in place during bouts.
  • Jacket: Fencers wear a specialized fencing jacket, also known as a lamé, which covers the upper body, including the torso and arms. The jacket is made of conductive material and is designed to register valid touches when hit.
  • Glove: Fencing gloves are worn on the hand that holds the sabre. They are reinforced to protect the hand and fingers from hits and to ensure proper grip on the weapon.
  • Plastron: Underneath the fencing jacket, fencers wear a plastron, which is a protective garment that covers the non-weapon arm and the upper torso. It provides an extra layer of protection.
  • Breeches: Fencers wear specialized fencing breeches or knickers that cover the legs from the waist down to the knees. These protect the legs from hits and provide ease of movement.
  • Socks: Long socks that cover the legs up to the knees are worn by fencers. They are typically white and help protect the lower legs.
  • Fencing Shoes: Fencing shoes are designed to provide good traction and support for quick footwork. They usually have a flat sole and reinforced heel.
  • Body Cord: A body cord is an electrical wire that connects the fencer’s weapon (sabre) to the scoring apparatus. It passes through the jacket and connects to the reel or scoring machine to register valid touches.
  • Reel or Scoring Machine: In competitive fencing, there is an electronic scoring system that registers touches made with the sabre. The reel or scoring machine connects to the body cords and records the points scored by each fencer.
  • Scoring Apparatus: This includes a scoring box or system that displays the scores and determines the validity of touches. It’s used by the referee to officiate the match.
  • Lame Connector: Fencers wear a metallic connector on the sleeve of their fencing jacket, which connects to the body cord to complete the electrical circuit for scoring purposes.
  • Coaching Equipment: Coaches may use equipment such as scoring machines and training aids to help fencers improve their skills during practice sessions.

These are the essential pieces of equipment used in sabre fencing. It’s important for fencers to ensure that their equipment is in good condition and complies with the rules and safety standards set by the relevant fencing organizations or governing bodies before participating in any sabre fencing activities.

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