At the NIFC we use 350 Newton "3 weapon" gloves for club practices.
HOWEVER, for any SABER fencers who wish to participate in any U.S.F.A. sanctioned events you are required to use the more protective 800 Newton Saber gloves.
The U.S.F.A. has been requiring the more protective gloves at events; for any of our members who compete in U.S.F.A. events you will want to upgrade your glove before you show up for an event and are disqualified at the equipment check.
FENCING: There are 3 different disciplines or
events within the Olympic sport of Fencing. Saber, Epee and Foil.
Typical bouts are scored to 5 touches, with the first fencer to reach 5
being the winner of the bout.
There is also 2 Blade Dagger Fencing, which has not yet been adopted as a formal Olympic sport.
Because of the subtleties of the rules, such as right of way and priority, fencers under the age of 10 often have a difficult time understanding the rules of fencing. For this, and other reasons, we generally prefer that fencers start the sport at, or above the age of 10 years old.
SABER is a very fast-paced weapon, with
bouts characterized by quick footwork and cutting with the side of the
Sabre is often claimed to be modeled after a cavalry saber used
when fighting upon horseback (the allowed target area is only from the waist up, the region a mounted man could reach on a foe on the ground),
however others believe the saber was modeled after the Italian duelling
Saber is a "right-of-way" sport, which means that the fencer
must take certain actions to establish priority, which gives that fencer the right to score a point.
A typical 5
touch bout can take about a minute and a half to complete.
FOIL was invented in France as a training weapon
in the middle of the 18th century in order to practice fast and elegant
Fencers blunted the point by wrapping a foil around the
blade or fastening a knob on the point ("blossom", French fleuret). Modern
Foils have a button on the tip of the blade that is connected to an
electronic scoring box. Target area for Foil fencing is the smallest of any of the disciplines and is limited to the TORSO of
A typical 5 touch bout takes several minutes to complete
since action can be slow and deliberate.
EPEE is the modern derivative of the dueling sword, the smallsword (itself descended from the rapier, used in sport fencing).
Épée is French for "sword". As a thrusting weapon the épée is similar
to a foil but has a stiffer blade that is V-shaped in cross-section, has
a larger bell guard, and is heavier.
While a point weapon like a Foil, the Epee technique is somewhat
different, as there are no rules regarding priority and right of way.
In addition, the entire body is a valid target area from the tip of the
toe to the top of the head.
Unlike either Saber or Foil, in Epee both fencers may score touches simultaneously.
A typical 5 touch bout can take several
minutes to complete.
2 BLADE DAGGER FENCING is styled after the type of military
combat that was used during the late period of the Middle Ages and the
early period of the Renaissance.
Each fencer utilizes a traditional Epee in addition to a specialized "Dagger" which is a short blade with a traditional Saber grip, but with an Epee button at the end of the blade.
See the last page of our website for
additional information about Dagger Fencing.
BEFORE YOU PURCHASE ANYTHING, please see us at the fencing club, we can often order for you and we will pass on our discounts. If you prefer to order your own equipment we will help direct to suppliers and help you with equipment selection. We have an extensive selection of equipment that we can loan to students.
Mask: The club has a limited number of loaner masks available for students in various sizes. These are available on a first come basis. Most students do not buy a mask until they decide if they will become a competitive fencer or until they commit to the sport. Club fencing requires a puncture resistance of 350 Newtons for safety reasons most masks on the market are suitably rated. Mask prices range from about $80 up to several hundred dollars with higher end masks being both stronger and lighter, often with removable/replaceable components.
Glove & Cuff: The fencing Glove is a long cuff glove with padding over the back of your hand to protect you from injury. Saber gloves have a lame cuff that allows you to eliminate a lame cuff. The Lame Cuff is used only when fencing Saber on an electrified strip and not needed for practice; it provides a continuous conductive surface to your wrist, which is required for scoring purposes and works with the Lame. EFFECTIVE NOW for SABER fencers only, the U.S.F.A. requires the newer, more protective, 800 Newton Saber gloves to be used in all USFA sanctioned events.
Jacket: Fencing jackets offer protection to your arms and torso and are available with either front zipper (recommended) or back zipper (not recommended) styles. Stretch fabrics are far more comfortable, but more economical cotton fabric jackets are very common for clubs.
Lame: The Lame is a conductive over jacket that is worn over your fencing jacket and is connected, by low voltage wires, to a "scoring box" when a fencer is on an electric strip during a bout. Lames are used in SABER and FOIL fencing. A Saber Lame looks like a jacket while a Foil Lame is a sleeveless vest. The club has a wide selection of sizes available to use while fencing at the club, these are available for use on a first come/first serve basis. Advanced members typically purchase their own Lame.
Blade: Blades may be borrowed from the club for lessons and recreational fencing. As your skills progress most fencers purchase their own blades and there are various blade characteristics that you may find desirable, costs can range from about $15 to over $150 for the blade alone, entire weapons typically range from $60 to over $200.
Fencing Shoes: competitive fencers may want to invest in a pair of specialized fencing shoes, however most fencers can utilize most style of athletic shoes. Any shoe with a cushioned heel and flat sole are suitable.
For women: chest protector (either 1 piece full chest coverage or 2 piece minimal coverage)
For men: protective cup
Club Member Don Yetsko directs a Junior Varsity level FOIL bout at a recent high school tournament which was hosted by the NIFC. Club members served as bout directors and helped with scoring the tournament.
MEMBERSHIP: Your annual $120 membership at the club allow you (aged 10 and up) to join the club. Membership also includes basic beginners lessons for members who wish to participate in lessons. Many of our members are recreational members, some show up for periodic exercise, others show up for most/all practices and events. Whatever your choice, we encourage you to fence without the need to be pressured beyond your desires. We will encourage you to compete in USFA events if that is your desire as your skills advance, but if you only want the occasional workout to stay in shape you are equally welcome at the Northwest Indiana Fencing Club.
Fencing is a very safe sport. Probably the most typical injuries are minor ankle sprains from improper footwork and rolling an ankle, and these are rare.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine recently published a story on Olympic athletes and their injuries, ranking Fencing near the very bottom of the injury scale, safer than Table Tennis, safer than Badminton and even safer than Curling.
FOIL competitors have the smallest target area of the 3 weapons, with only the torso of their opponent as a valid target zone.
Generally a slow and strategic match resembling a chess match with weapons, Foil fencing is often punctuated with brief moments of rapid aggression.
The Fencing Masters and the Fly
There were once three sabre masters, a French, a Russian, and a Hungarian, and they were all arguing who was the best master. The argument became rather heated, and without further ado, the French master brings out his sabre, declaring, "I will show you all!" He targeted one of the flies buzzing around the salle, and with a swipe of his blade, the fly falls to the ground, cut neatly in half. The Russian sabre master shakes his head, "Nyet, you shall see that -I- am the best!" And with two swipe of his blade, the fly falls to the ground, it's wings neatly removed. They stare expectantly at the Hungarian sabre master, who simply smiles and shakes his head. He targets another fly in the room, and with two swipes of his blade, the fly flys off, undisturbed. The other two masters laugh and ridicule the Hungarian, who once again shakes his head and holds up his hands, quietly saying, "That fly will never procreate again!"