What are some common fencing tactics

Definition of Fencing

Fencing – a sport of physical agility and strategic thinking. Fencing requires skill, strategy, and technique. It’s all about scoring the most touches (hits) against an opponent in a set time. It’s an ancient sport, dating back to the 16th century.

This post covers the definition and tactics of fencing:

History of fencing

Fencing is a sport that goes way back! It’s thought to have started in Egypt or India 3000 years ago, as a form of hand-to-hand combat. During the Middle Ages, kings and nobles took up fencing as a pastime. Then, in the 18th century, it became part of university curriculums.

Today, there are basic and advanced fencing tactics. Beginners can practice footwork and simple moves with a foil or épée. Then, they can move onto more complex strategies with a saber. Common techniques include thrusts, parries, counters, lunges and fleche (a running attack). Wood foils are used to simulate skills and practice safely before using steel or aluminum alloy blades. Experienced fencers may pick one weapon, like foil, épée or saber, and become highly skilled in it.

Types of fencing

Fencing is a sport that uses weapons, such as swords, epees, and foils. The goal is to defeat an opponent by touching their target area with any weapon. It’s an exciting, quick-paced, and tactical sport that has been enjoyed for centuries.

Four main types of fencing exist: Foil, epee, saber, and épée-bout du monde. Each has its own unique rules and techniques.

  • Foil: This is one of the oldest types of fencing. It’s considered elegant for its light weight and slender blades. The target area is only the torso. It has a stainless steel point with a button to spread impact.
  • Epee: Also known as “pointe d’Armes” in French, this was used for military training in Europe during the 1700s. You may target anywhere on the body.
  • Saber: Slashing attacks are made with its curved blade. It’s dynamic due to its range of attack options. Thrusting or hitting is allowed.
  • Epée-bout du monde (EDM): Two individuals fight until someone gets five points or touches every part of their opponent’s body in ten seconds. It requires fast reflexes and great footwork and movement tactics.

Basic Fencing Tactics

Fencing takes quick reflexes, thinking ahead, and physical strength. To win, use footwork and handwork. This article looks at a few basic fencing strategies. Guard positioning, attacking strategies, target selection, and counterattacks are all vital.


Footwork is a critical skill in fencing. Important for attacking or defending, it includes movements, positioning and balance. Good footwork is key to success.

The term “en guarde” marks the start of fencing. It gets fencers ready to attack or defend within the rules. This position helps keep them balanced.

Coupe is another footwork technique in adversary bouts. Fencers jump sideways or forward, putting defenders off balance. “Maniement de terre” is when a fencer jumps backward into a low stance, with their heel raised.

The advance lunge (avancement) helps maintain distance with an opponent. It can also be used as an offensive lunge attack (prise de fer). Retreats are just as important. They improve safety and give time to assess situations.


Bladework is a key part of fencing. Each weapon has its own moves, based on the rules of the game. Defensive tactics such as parrying and placing the blade in line with an attack, and offensive tactics like pressing and flicking, are all part of bladework.

Parrying is defensive. It uses the fencer’s blade and hand to block or contain the attacking blade. Direct parries put the point of the blade in line with the assaulting blade. Circular parries use circular wrist movements to deflect the attack while controlling their own blade.

Pressing is an offensive tactic. The fencer angulates their wrist to push down the defending guard. This lets them attack with more precision and power. Flicking is when the fencer pivots or rotates their arm quickly to get by the guard. To be successful, timing and accuracy are essential.


Parrying is a crucial fencing skill. It’s a way to protect against your rival’s attack. You do it by making a prompt, sure response to their attack as they’re about to strike. Parrying is mostly seen in foil and sabre fencing.

To succeed, parrying needs to be done fast and accurately. Common parries used by fencers include:

  • High-line parry (seconde)
  • Middle-line parry (quarte)
  • Low-line parry (octave)
  • Circling cuts (circulades)
  • Thrusting/flicking actions like coups directe and hip flips.

Fencers use these techniques to oppose their opponent’s weapon while it’s still in motion or to anticipate what their opponent will do next. Parries can make openings for counter-attack or make an opponent do passing movements which keep them in one place, giving an easier chance to attack for the fencer who starts it. Timing is also significant for a successful parry; it needs coordination between knowing when the other action will happen, without waiting too long to do your move in response to capture any openings made by it.

Advanced Fencing Tactics

Fencing is a sport that requires strategy. To do it well, you must be quick-minded and anticipate your opponent’s moves. Advanced fencing strategies involve skill, finesse, and creativity.

In this section, we’ll talk about the more complex tactics, like trickery and misdirection. Additionally, we’ll discuss how to use timing and outmaneuver your opponent.


A disengage is a complex fencing tactic. It consists of a fake attack, followed by a quick movement in the opposite direction. It’s used both to avoid an attack and hit with either the forte or foible of the blade.

Timing is key. If done too slow, it’ll give your opponent time to counter or parry. To be effective, it has 3 components:

  • Point control
  • Preparation
  • Displacement

It can be used offensively or defensively.

Every situation is unique. Being able to recognize the type of disengage to use will make the difference between victory or defeat!


A feint is a fencing trick to trick your opponent. You must have skill to control the speed and timing of the blade. Feints can be used to set up combos or stop an attack.

There are 3 kinds of feints:

  • Distance-shortening means you move further away than intended.
  • Combination means you fake an attack before doing the real one.
  • False parry is when you pretend to parry, but attack instead.

These tactics, used correctly, can make your opponent confused. Seize victory with skill!


Fencing is a dueling game that needs strategy, defence, and offence. Discipline and thinking is necessary – reflexes will not suffice. In any two-person game, success is based on predicting and countering each other’s moves.

Beats are one way to do this. They are attack moves that displace or distract the other fencer’s blade and attack their target point. Beats make the opposing fencer move their guard to avoid being hit, providing an opening for attack either with a lunge or a simple attack. Additionally, beats can be used as a counter-attack on an attack by your opponent, since they’re often too fast for them to parry in time.

There are many different beats – some offensive, some defensive – but all have the same effect: they take your opponent’s weapon out of line while allowing you to strike the desired target point. For example, if an opponent straightens their guard line early, using a beat can give you access to the target point without needing to breach the distance or risk being hit. Knowing when and why it is wise to use a beat is key.

Combination Fencing Tactics

Combination fencing tactics – often called the “art of the blade” – is a skill fencers can learn. It involves using multiple attack and defence moves to outwit an opponent.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of combination fencing tactics and how to use them to your advantage.


Counter-attacks are an important part of fencing for offense and defense. They can be used to counter or prepare for attacks. Two types exist: direct and indirect.

Direct counter-attacks involve parrying the opponent’s blade and then quickly striking. This is usually the fastest way to score a hit, since it relies on speed and skill. It also causes less refereeing issues.

Indirect counter-attacks involve waiting for the opponent to attack first, then responding with either a different weapon or an attack feint and riposte. This works best when there is little time or when opponents are skilled parriers. By striking while they are committed to their initial move, fencers can bypass successful blocks and score more points.


Attack-in-preparation (also known as “prep“) is one of the most important fencing tactics. It entails attacking with the intent of hitting the opponent, but it is likely they will parry or avoid it. Its true aim is to create an opening in their defense so a second technique can be used.

Feints and combinations can help draw out the other fencer’s response and better direct the following action. Threats made at odd angles and sequences make it harder to predict what will come next. To be effective, the fencer must act quickly as overthinking can lead to being parried. This tactic requires a lot of practice due to its many variables such as timing, distance and footwork. It is essential when fighting opponents with more experience or superior technique.

Compound Attack

A compound attack is a fencing offensive that uses various techniques to keep an opponent off balance. It begins with a forward thrust, followed by a feint such as a disengagement or an indirect riposte. This distracts the opponent and creates an opening for a further attack.

Reactions from the foe may call for other maneuvers like redirections, coups de jambes, double-time actions, and circular thrusts. Compound attacks demand accuracy and timing. Fencing clubs drill these moves to turn them into instinctive tactics for matches. Those who can carry out repeatable combinations with ease have an edge over opponents who can’t keep composure in the face of such attacks.

Specialized Fencing Tactics

Fencing is a martial art that’s been here for centuries! It’s done all over the world, both by people looking to compete and simply for fun. Though fencing is like other martial arts, it has some special tactics used by experienced fencers. We’ll discuss a few of these tactics and how they can be used to win fencing matches.


Ripostes are a fencing tactic used by opponents to counterattack. The goal is to take control of the fight and gain an advantage. It is mostly seen in foil and épée fencing.

When doing a riposte, fencers must act quickly. They must parry their opponent’s blade away and thrust their weapon at a vital area. Accuracy and speed is crucial, as waiting too long will make the counterattack ineffective.

Ripostes can be used offensively or defensively. It is often used to get touches against higher ranked opponents during competitions. Learning ripostes should be fundamental instruction for all fencers as it has a big return with minimal risk.


Remise is a fencing move used when an opponent’s attack misses. It takes advantage of the lapse in preparation and renews the attack rather than retreating or starting again.

It follows from a fencer not being able to parry and riposte the initial attack. It can also be used if the quickest and most direct route is attacking instead of parrying and riposting. For example, if two fencers attack at the same time, one could make the remise instead of counter-riposting their opponent.

It originated from classical fencing which emphasized offensive action and quick reactions to any opportunity. To be successful, fencers must practice body movements in reaction time drills. This allows them to maximize the distance covered by their attack and maintain accuracy. When making a remise, it is important to focus on the target ahead of the blade contact point to control the blade angles efficiently and achieve successful strikes.


Redouble is a fast, strong fencing move used to surprise an opponent. It’s also known as double-hitting. This involves attacking twice, with the same weapon hand and type of attack, in a short time span. This catches your opponent off guard, disrupting their defense or taking advantage of an opening.

Typically, redoubles involve a cut or thrust. Strike their blade while their guard is up with the first attack. Then, swiftly repeat the same line of attack, with more force to penetrate their parry. Doing two quick cuts or stabs makes it possible for a direct riposte, if both strikes hit. This avoids counter-parrying and riposting.

Redoubles require skill and coordination. You need agility for delivering blows, without compromising form or balance. Knowing when to stop is essential. Keep an eye out for openings from the opponent. As you break away, always look for new openings. This move is better for experienced fencers than beginners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is a common fencing tactic?

A1: One common fencing tactic is the parry-riposte, which involves parrying an opponent’s attack and then immediately launching a counterattack.

Q2: What is a feint in fencing?

A2: A feint is a deceptive move in fencing, where you make a fake attack in order to get your opponent to react, allowing you to move in for a real attack.

Q3: What is an engagement in fencing?

A3: An engagement in fencing is when two opponents’ swords come into contact with each other, signaling the start of a bout.

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