About Fencing

Want to start Fencing?

If you would like to come along and give fencing a go, please click here. We can provide new fencers with access to club gear until you purchase your own.

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The Short of the Sport:

Historically, fencing was a means for settling disputes, originally fought to the death, and later, first to draw blood. As times progressed, so too did fencing, until it evolved into the refined and focussed art that it has become today.
A highly tactical sport, fencing will not only challenge you physically, but mentally as well.

Modern fencing is an extremely safe sport, bound by rules that have grown with the art over many years. A “bout” is won by scoring a set number of “touches” against your opponent, with three different disciplines having unique rulings and techniques. Electronic equipment is used to accurately determine if a point has been scored, and safety improvements are continually being made.

The Weapons:

There are three types of swords used in fencing and each weapon has its own distinct “character” and resulting pace of action.

For example, the sabre is the fastest and most aggressive, epee is the slowest and requires the most patience while foil is in between and attracts fencers who like to employ both aggression and patience.

Many recreational fencers compete in multiple weapons, however Olympic level fencers concentrate on one weapon for their competitive careers.

For more details about the different weapons, click the button below.

Fencing Equipment

Fencing typically requires a lot of personal gear in order to keep you safe whilst you have fun. Most clubs, HVFC included, have a large selection of gear that you can borrow until you are ready to purchase your own. Protective gear comes with different ratings, 350N or 800N.

Fencing gear is traditionally white, though more colours are beginning to join the ranks. However, black cannot be worn by fencers, as this is reserved for coaches.

The Rules

Whilst the rules for each weapon in fencing do vary, there are a number of expectations that hold constant across the board, and penalties that apply for breaches of the rules. These rules are in place to ensure that everybody is safe, has fun, and the bout is fair, but also require you to respect other fencers, referees, coaches, organisers, and spectators.

Before any fencing bout, you must check that your gear is working correctly, before saluting your opponent and the referee. At the conclusion of the bout, you must again salute, and shake hands with the other fencer and referee. This is a mark of respect and appreciation for everyone present.

It is a referee’s role to ensure that everyone abides by the rules of fencing, to determine who had priority (in foil and sabre), and to keep time and score. Without our volunteer referees, we would not be able to have the fantastic tournaments that so many fencers enjoy taking part in.

Penalties in fencing are broken into three categories. Yellow cards are for minor offences, and serve as a warning to the fencer. A red card is used for a serious or repeated offences, and results in a point being awarded to your opponent. The black card is the final, and most severe penalty, resulting in expulsion from the tournament. These are rarely required, and are only for severe misconduct, cheating, or unsportsmanlike behaviour. A detailed breakdown of the penalties can be found here.

Important Links

FIE is the international governing body for fencing.

Fencing NZ is New Zealand’s governing body for fencing.

Fencing Central is the regional arm of FENZ, covering the lower half of the North Island.

Fencing North is the regional arm responsible for the upper half of the North Island.

Fencing Mid-South is responsible for the upper half of the South Island.