Olympic Fencing 101: Don’t Call It a “Sword”

Editor’s Note:  Kent Moore is a public relations professional from California. He has great expertise in fencing, and gladly offered to write a guest post on the intricacies of Olympic fencing.

If you’re like me and love sports, then you and the rest of the world are watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London. For some, it’s a chance to check out sports they have never seen or heard of. In the case of fencing, probably a majority of you are in that category. Being a fencer myself, who has competed both in national and state competitions, below are the basics of what you should know about fencing for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Fencing Basics

I could write a book about the fencing basics, but the quick version is that fencing has three different styles of competition:  foil, epee, and saber. All three weapons have different rules and target areas. Each match, or “bout,” as it’s called, is played to 15 touches. The bout takes place on a “strip,” measuring 14 meters by 2 meters, where the fencers can only move forwards and backwards. A large fencing competition, like the Olympics, usually has both individual competitions and team competitions, which consists of three fencers for each team.

USA Fencers

While countries like France and Italy have produced some of the best fencers in the world, anyone who knows the sport well is aware that the U.S. is now finally being able to give European fencers a run for their money. For instance, this past Saturday, foil fencer Lee Kiefer took fifth place in women’s foil, which was the best result for a women’s individual foil fencer since 1956.

Though as we look towards the rest of the games and you find yourself wanting to watch a spectacular fencing bout, I would highly suggest watching both the women’s saber and men’s foil individual competitions. For women’s saber, Team USA has two-time gold winner Mariel Zagunis. Besides a laundry list of wins and accomplishments, which you can read here, Mariel is the Americans’ best hope for obtaining a gold medal in fencing. While in men’s foil, Team USA has foil fencer Race Imboden. Ranked number one in the nation and fifth in the world, this red headed youth is a force not to be underestimated. Being his first Olympics, I believe he is going to give the world a show they soon won’t forget.

When To Watch

If you’re ready for some swashbuckling action then check out the NBC schedule here, and for more information about US fencing, check out www.usfencing.org.

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