Tag Archives: penalties

From the Rulebook – Penalties

giant_referee_red_yellow_card_prop_01In learning the ins and outs of a sport, one must also know which actions will result in a penalty. Recently some of you have asked about yellow cards, red cards, and black cards. While it is my hope that none of you will incur such penalties, there is the possibility that some will occur. So we should all become familiar with what is good, what is acceptable, what may be tolerated, and what is absolutely an offense.

The following is a link to the USFA’s Penalty Chart which lays out what exactly will yield you a yellow card, a red card, or a black card. This chart is the guiding document for all offenses and will be applied at every formal competition you attend. On a personal note, at local meets and tournaments, directors or referees tend to be a bit more forgiving on some of the minor offenses, usually giving a verbal warning prior to issuing a card. Please do not take this as an absolute–each director has his or her own tolerance level, so do not assume that you can or will “get away with” anything.

USFA Penalty Chart (PDF)

I had considered recreating this chart for all of you on our site, but the USFA chart is quite clear and easy to follow. Included in the chart are links to the applicable paragraphs of the rule book for further clarification. I encourage each of you go get familiar with this chart. As always, if you have any questions, just let me know.

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Electric Gear for Competition

As I mentioned at practice the other day, if we intend to compete with other schools in meets and tournaments, we have to start thinking about purchasing electric equipment. For USFA tournaments, the requirement is that you have a minimum of two electric weapons and two body cords in addition to any other electric gear such as a lamé (foil and saber only), special mask (saber), overglove or cuff (saber), mask cord, etc. For the upcoming tournament in April, you can probably get the minimum in order to compete:

Foil – 1 electric weapon, 1 body cord, 1 foil lamé

Épée – 1 electric weapon, 1 body cord

Saber – 1 electric weapon, 1 body cord, 1 electric saber mask w/mask cord, 1 overglove

I’ve taken the time to do some comparative shopping for everyone. Attached to this post is a chart of vendors and the different sets they offer for beginning electric equipment. The chart  is grouped according to weapon type. There are some obvious deals (cheap prices), but it all depends on what you can and want to purchase at this time. If you intend to continue with fencing next year, I would suggest you consider buying a set that will provide you with the minimum USFA requirements for competitions.

Why two weapons? Murphy’s Law runs rampant at meets and competitions. With the use and abuse that weapons go through during the course of a bout or competition, it is not uncommon for a weapon to fail or get damaged. (Sarah would be happy to recount her experience with this for you!) If that should occur, you would be given a limited amount of time to come up with a replacement weapon (but not enough time to repair it). If you do not have a back-up weapon, you will be forced to forfeit the bout.

Click the link below to download the electric starter sets information (PDF) When ordering sets, there are often multiple options based on the type of weapon (type of point, type of grip, etc.). If you have any questions about equipment, please do not hesitate to contact me (phone, text, email, FB, comments on this blog).

Electric Starter Sets

Tournament Basics

When it came time for a tournament, I always got a little more anxious than normal anticipating the bouts ahead. Here are some tips (gathered from personal experiences) for preparing for a fencing tournament.

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Prior to the tournament

Day of the tournament

  • Eat a light breakfast at least 90 minutes before fencing starts. You should never start your day nor a tournament on an empty stomach.
  • Report on time and get suited up quickly. Even better, come already dressed to fence. At check-in you will learn which strip to report to first for your first round of bouts.
  • While checking in have your mask inspected (this is a requirement). Fencing with a mask that has not been inspected will cost you a red card. Masks are tested with a 12K punch and examined for safety–no holes in bib, rust on mask or dents permitted. If you see gaps in the mesh, use an awl or small screwdriver to re-position the mesh. If you have a dent, tap it out from the inside with the back end of a large screwdriver and hammer.
  • A proper warm-up is critical to good fencing. Give yourself enough time to go through your normal routine of warm-up, stretching and drilling.

Experienced fencers and captains – help your teammates with advice and encouragement when you aren’t fencing. I will also be going around to as many of you as I can to give as much advice as I can.

Before your bout

  • Before your first bout, the Director or Referee will check your weapon to see that the handle and barrel of the tip are not loose, that the tip has two screws, the blade is not rusty, and that the wires of your weapon are glued down properly. Inside the guard the two wires must be covered with spaghetti insulation all the way up to the nut.
  • Before each bout, the Director will test your foil or epee to see that it supports the 750-gram weight. This is to insure that your tip is functioning correctly.
  • The Director will then have you and your opponents test your weapons on each other’s lames. Holding your mask in front of your face, touch your opponent’s lame with your weapon to ensure that all scoring equipment and weapons are functioning correctly.
  • Salute your opponent, salute your Director, and put on your mask. Have fun!

During your bout

  • If you disagree with a director’s or referee’s judgement, you may not protest it, even if it is poor judgement. However, if a rule is misapplied, you may politely lodge a protest. Do not continue to fence until the protest has been dealt with completely. If you continue to fence, you will lose your right to the protest. Have a teammate call me to the strip immediately if there is a rules question.

After your bout

  • Do not wander too far from your strip until all of your bouts for that round have been completed.
  • After the round has been completed, you will await the results to find out who will be advancing and what the strip assignments will be. Between bouts, observe some of the other bouts since everyone is a potential opponent. Take stock of strengths and weaknesses so that you are better prepared when you face that opponent.

Remember to relax and enjoy what you’re doing!

Our Field of Play: The Piste

In modern fencing, the piste or strip is the playing area. A regulation piste is 14 meters long and between 1.5 and 2 meters wide. This narrow pathway is where all of our fencing activity will take place, and why our movements are so linear in nature.

electric piste

Fencers must be on the strip to score touches. In electric fencing, the strip is grounded so that if a weapon hits the strip, no touch is registered. There is a center line; most scoring equipment will be aligned with the center of the strip, set off to the side. Every bout begins at the on guard or en garde line (located two meters either side of the center line) with a fencer on each side. There are warning areas at the end of each strip two meters before the end of the strip. The President or Referee will halt the action when a fencer passes this line to give him or her a two-meter warning (so named because there are only two meters of strip left). It merely serves to let the fencer know that he or she is nearing the end of the strip.

If a fencer goes off the end of the warning area with both feet, essentially off the strip, the opponent is given a point even if there is no actual hit. Going off the side of the strip with one or both feet halts the fencing action and is penalized by allowing the opponent to advance one meter before being replaced on guard. If the offending fencer would then be replaced behind the rear limit of the strip because of this, a tough is awarded to the opponent. If play is halted for any reason other than stepping off the side of the piste, a fencer may never be replaced on guard behind the rear line.

Once a touch has been scored, fencers begin again at the en garde line and action resumes as directed by the Referee. If no touch is scored but play was halted, the fencers come en garde at the position they were stopped.

The video below shows some of the strips that were set up for the London 2012 Olympics. Strips such as these will not be found at the local, regional or national level. They will most likely be found at international competitions. Enjoy!