Glossary of Fencing Terms

This glossary is a work in progress, and is not a complete list of terminology.

Absence of blade (Absence de fer)
when the blades are not touching; opposite of engagement.
Advance (Marche)
a movement forward by step, cross, or balestra.
Aids (Aides)
the last three fingers of the sword hand.
Assault (Assaut, Combat)
friendly combat between two fencers.
Attack (Attaque)
the initial offensive action made by extending the sword arm and continuously threatening the valid target of the opponent.
Attack au Fer
an attack that is prepared by deflecting the opponent’s blade, e.g., beat, froissement, pressure.
Balestra (Balestra)
a forward hop or jump, typically followed by an attack such as a lunge or fleche.
Bayonet (Connecteur à baïonnette)
a type of electrical connector for weapons.
Beat (Battement)
an attempt to knock the opponent’s blade aside or out of line by using one’s foible or middle against the opponent’s foible.
Bind (Liement)
an action in which the opponent’s blade is forced into the diagonally opposite line.
Black Card (Carton noir)
used to indicate the most serious offences in a fencing competition. The offending fencer is usually expelled from the event or tournament.
Bout (Match)
an assault at which the score is kept.
Broadsword (Estramaçon)
a military sword and fencing weapon popular in the 18th-19th centuries, similar to a heavy sabre; any straight-bladed, double- edged, single- handed cutting sword of the post-medieval period.
Broken Time (Changement de Rythme)
a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer’s actions, used to fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time.
Button (Mouche; Bouton)
the safety tip on the end of practice swords.
Change of Engagement (Changement d’engagement)
engagement of the opponent’s blade in the opposite line.
Compound (Attaque composée ou parade composée)
also composed; an attack or riposte incorporating one or more feints to the opposite line that the action finishes in.
the back-and-forth play of the blades in a fencing match, composed of phrases (phrases d’armes) punctuated by gaps of no blade action.
Corps-a-corps (Corps à corps)
lit. “body-to-body”; physical contact between the two fencers during a bout, illegal in foil and sabre.
Counter-attack (Contre-attaque)
an attack made against the right-of-way, or in response to the opponent’s attack.
Counter-disengage (Contre-dégagement)
a disengage in the opposite direction, to deceive the counter-parry.
Counter-parry (Contre-parade)
a parry made in the opposite line to the attack; ie. the defender first comes around to the opposite side of the opponent’s blade.
Counter-riposte (Contre-riposte)
an attack that follows a parry of the opponent’s riposte.
Counter-time (Contre-temps)
an attack that responds to the opponent’s counter- attack, typically a riposte following the parry of the counter-attack.
also graze, glise’, or glissade; an attack or feint that slides along the opponent’s blade.
Coup lancé; Coup déjà lancé
a launched hit; an attack that starts before a stop in play but lands after. Valid for normal halts, but not valid at end of time.
also cut-over; an attack or deception that passes around the opponent’s tip.
also semi-bind; an action in which the opponent’s blade is forced into the high or low line on the same side.
Cross (Passe avant, passe arrière)
an advance or retreat by crossing one leg over the other; also passe’ avant (forward cross), passe’ arriere (backwards cross).
Cut (Coup de taille)
an attack made with a chopping motion of the blade, landing with the edge or point.
Deception (Dérobement)
avoidance of an attempt to engage the blades; see disengage, coupe’
Direct (Coup droit)
an attack or riposte that finishes in the same line in which it was formed, with no feints out of that line.
Disengage (Dégagement)
a circular movement of the blade that deceives the opponent’s parry, removes the blades from engagement, or changes the line of engagement.
Displacement (Esquive)
moving the target to avoid an attack; dodging.
Double (Coup double)
in epee, two attacks that arrive within 40-50 ms of each other.
an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle around the opponent’s blade, and finishes in the opposite line.
Dry (Fleuret, épée ou sabre mécanique)
also steam; fencing without electric scoring aids.
when the blades are in contact with each other, eg. during a parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule’.
En Garde
also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that fencers assume when preparing to fence.
Envelopment (Enveloppement)
an engagement that sweeps the opponent’s blade through a full circle.
a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light duelling sword of similar design, popular in the mid-19th century.
False (Fausse attaque)
an action that is intended to fail, but draw a predicted reaction from the opponent; also, the back edge of a sabre blade.
Feint (Feinte)
attacking into one line with the intention of switching to another line before the attack is completed.
Fencing Time (Temps d’escrime)
also temps d’escrime; the time required to complete a single, simple fencing action.
Federation Internationale d’Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.
Finta in tempo
lit. “feint in time”; a feint of counter-attack that draws a counter-time parry, which is decieved.
lit. “arrow”; an attack in which the aggressor leaps off his leading foot, attempts to make the hit, and then passes the opponent at a run.
Flick (Coup lancé)
a cut-like action that lands with the point, often involving some whip of the foible of the blade to “throw” the point around a block or other obstruction.
Florentine (Combat à la florentine)
a fencing style where a secondary weapon or other instrument is used in the off hand.
Flying Parry or Riposte
a parry with a backwards glide and riposte by cut-over.
Foible (Le faible de la lame)
the upper, weak part of the blade.
Foil (Fleuret)
a fencing weapon with rectangular cross-section blade and a small bell guard; any sword that has been buttoned to render it less dangerous for practice./dd>

Forte (Le fort de la lame)
the lower, strong part of the blade.
French Grip (Poignée droite)
a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel.
an attack that displaces the opponent’s blade by a strong grazing action.
Guard (Coquille)
the metal cup or bow that protects the hand from being hit. Also, the defensive position assumed when not attacking.
Hilt (Garde)
the handle of a sword, consisting of guard, grip, and pommel.
Homologated (Homologué)
certified for use in FIE competitions, eg. 800N clothing and maraging blades.
In Quartata
an attack made with a quarter turn to the inside, concealing the front but exposing the back.
In Time (Coup de temps)
when a stop-hit arrives at least one fencing time before the original attack.
Indirect (Attaque indirecte)
an attack or riposte that finishes in the opposite line to which it was formed, by means of a disengage or coupe’.
Insistence (Coup droit d’autorité)
forcing an attack through the parry.
a counter-attack that intercepts and checks an indirect attack or other disengagement.
Invitation (Invite)
a line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent to attack.
Italian Grip (Poignée italienne)


a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.
the 4 officials who watch for hits in a dry fencing bout.
Lamé (Plastron électrique)
a metallic vest/jacket used to detect valid touches in foil and sabre.
Line (Ligne)
the main direction of an attack (eg., high/low, inside/outside), often equated to the parry that must be made to deflect the attack; also point in line.
Lunge (Fente)
an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent front leg.
Mal-parry (Parade insuffisante)
also mal-paré; a parry that fails to prevent the attack from landing.
Manipulators (Manipulateurs)
the thumb and index finger of the sword hand.
a special steel used for making blades; said to be stronger and break more cleanly than conventional steels.
Marker Points
an old method of detecting hits using inked points.
a strap that binds the grip to the wrist/forearm.
the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.
Measure (Mesure)
the distance between the fencers.
Middle (Milieu de la lame)
the middle third of the blade, between foible and forte.
Neuvieme (Septime haute)
an unconventional parry (#9) sometimes described as blade behind the back, pointing down (a variant of octave), other times similar to elevated sixte.
parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.
holding the opponent’s blade in a non-threatening line; a time- hit; any attack or counter-attack with opposition.
Parry (Parade)
a block of the attack, made with the forte of one’s own blade.
Pass : Dépassement
an attack made with a cross; e.g., fleche, “Russian lunge”. Also, the act of moving past the opponent.
Passata-sotto (Passata Sotto)
a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.
Passé (Coup passé)
an attack that passes the target without hitting; also a cross- step (see cross).
Phrase (Phrases d’armes)
a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.
the linear strip on which a fencing bout is fought; approx. 2m wide and 14m long.
Pistol Grip (Crosse; poignée orthopédique)
a modern, orthopaedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol; varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.
Plaqué (Coup plaqué)
a point attack that lands flat.
a partial jacket worn for extra protection; typically a half- jacket worn under the main jacket on the weapon-arm side of the body.
Point (Touche)
a valid touch; the tip of the sword; an attack made with the point (ie. a thrust)
Point in Line (Menace)
also line; an extended arm and blade that threatens the opponent.
Pommel (Pommeau)
a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.
Preparation (Préparation)
the initial phase of an attack, before right-of-way is established.
offering one’s blade for engagement by the opponent.
Press (Presser v. pression)
an attempt to push the opponent’s blade aside or out of line; depending on the opponent’s response, the press is followed by a direct or indirect attack.
parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.
Principle of Defence (Principe de défense)
the use of forte against foible when parrying.
Priority (Priorité)
in sabre, the now-superceded rules that decide which fencer will be awarded the touch in the event that they both attack simultaneously; also used synonymously with right-of-way.
Prise de Fer
also taking the blade; an engagement of the blades that forces the opponent’s weapon into a new line. See : bind, croise, envelopment, opposition.

parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.
parry #5; blade up and to the inside, wrist pronated. In sabre, the blade is held above the head to protect from head cuts.
Rapier (Rapière)
a long, double-edged thrusting sword popular in the 16th- 17th centuries.
Red Card (Carton rouge)
used to indicate repeated minor rule infractions or a major rule infraction by one of the fencers; results in a point being given to the other fencer.
a new action that follows an attack that missed or was parried; see also Reprise.
Referee (Arbitre, Président)
also director, president; the mediator of the fencing bout.
immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried, without withdrawing the arm.
renewal of an attack that missed or was parried, after a return to en-garde; see also Redoublement.
Retreat (Retraite)
step back; opposite of advance.
Right-of-way (Raison, Priorité)
rules for awarding the point in the event of a double touch in foil or sabre.
Riposte (Riposte)
an attack made immediately after a parry of the opponent’s attack.
Sabre (Sabre)
a fencing weapon with a flat blade and knuckle guard, used with cutting or thrusting actions; a military sword popular in the 18th to 20th centuries; any cutting sword used by cavalry.
Salle (Salle d’armes)
a fencing hall or club.
Salute (Salut)
with the weapon, a customary acknowledgement of one’s opponent and referee at the start and end of the bout.
Second Intention (Seconde intention)
a false action used to draw a response from the opponent, which will open the opportunity for the intended action that follows, typically a counter-riposte.
Seconde (Seconde)
parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Septime (Septime)
parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.
Simple (Attaque simple)
an attack (or riposte) that involves no feints.
Simultaneous (Attaques simultanées)
in foil and sabre, two attacks for which the right-of- way is too close to determine.
Single Stick (Canne)
a form of fencing with basket-hilted wooden sticks.

Sixte (Sixte)
parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.
Small Sword (Dague)
a light duelling sword popular in the 18th century, precursor to the foil.
Stop Hit (Coup d’arrêt)
a counter-attack that hits; also a counter-attack whose touch is valid by virtue of its timing.
Stop Cut (Coup d’arrêt)
a stop-hit with the edge in sabre, typically to the cuff.
Three Prong (Fil de corps épée)
a type of epee body wire/connector; also an old- fashioned tip that would snag clothing, to make it easier to detect hits in the pre-electric era.
Thrown Point (Coup lancé, “bingo”)
a “flick”.
Thrust (Coup de pointe, coup d’estoc)
an attack made by moving the sword parallel to its length and landing with the point.
Tierce (Tierce)
parry #3; blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.
Time Hit (Coup de temps)
also time-thrust; old name for stop hit with opposition.
deception of the parry.
Two Prong (Fil de corps fleuret / sabre)
a type of body-wire/connector, used in foil and sabre.
Whip-over (Coup fouetté)
in sabre, a touch that results from the foible of the blade whipping over the opponent’s guard or blade when parried.
Whites (Tenue)
fencing clothing.
Yellow Card (Carton jaune)
also advertissement, warning; used to indicate a minor rule infraction by one of the fencers.

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