Fencing Dictionary

What's New at Fitness Fencing



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.


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.


Composed of phrases (phrases d'armes): punctuated by gaps of no blade action.

Corps-a-corps (Corps à corps): "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-time (Contre-temps): an attack that responds to the opponent's counter- attack, typically a riposte following the parry of the counter-attack.

Coulé (graze, glise', or glissade): an attack or feint that slides along the opponent's blade.

Coup lancé (Coup déjà lance): a launched hit; an attack that starts before a stop in play but lands after valid normal halts, but not valid at end of time.

Coupé (Coupé): an attack or deception that passes around the opponent's tip.

Croisé (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.


Derobement (Dérobement): deception of the attack au fer or prise de fer.

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.

Doublé: an attack or riposte that describes a complete circle around the opponent's blade, and finishes in the opposite line.

Dry (Fleure (épée, sabre) mécanique also steam): fencing without electric scoring aids.


Engagement (Engagement): when the blades are in contact with each other, eg. during a parry, attack au fer, prise de fer, or coule'.

On Guard (En garde): the fencing position; the stance that fencers assume when preparing to fence.

Envelopment (Envelopement): an engagement that sweeps the opponent's blade through a full circle.

Epee (Épée): a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light dueling 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: a quick flick of the blade with an extending arm into an attack to an opposite line.

Fencing Time (Temps d'escrime): the time required to complete a single, simple fencing action.

FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime): the world governing body of fencing.

Feint in time (Finta in tempo): a feint of counter-attack that draws a counter-time parry, which is deceived.

Flick (Coup lance): 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.

Forte (Le fort de la lame): the lower, strong part of the blade.

French Grip: a traditional hilt with a slightly curved grip and a large pommel.

Froissement: an attack that displaces the opponent's blade by a strong grazing action.

G and H

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.


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.

Interception: a counter-attack that intercepts and checks an indirect attack or other disengagement.

Invitation: line that is intentionally left open to encourage the opponent to attack.

Italian Grip (Poignée italienne): a traditional hilt with finger rings and crossbar.

J, K, and L

Jury: 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.

Lunge (Fente): an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent front leg.


Manipulators: the thumb and index finger of the sword hand.

Maraging: 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.

Martingale: a strap that binds the grip to the wrist/forearm.

Match: the aggregate of bouts between two fencing teams.

Measure: the distance between the fencers.

Middle: the middle third of the blade, between foible and forte.

N and O

Neuvieme: an unconventional parry (#9) sometimes described as blade behind the back, pointing down (a variant of octave), other times similar to elevated sixte.

Octave: parry #8; blade down and to the outside, wrist supinated.

Opposition: holding the opponent's blade in a non-threatening line; a time- hit; any attack or counter-attack with opposition.


Pass (Dépassement): an attack made with a cross; eg. fleche, "Russian lunge". Also, the act of moving past the opponent.

Passata-sotto: a lunge made by dropping one hand to the floor.

Passé: an attack that passes the target without hitting; also a cross- step (see cross).

Phrase: a set of related actions and reactions in a fencing conversation.

Piste: the linear strip on which a fencing bout is fought; approx. 2m wide and 14m long.

Pistol Grip: a modern, orthopedic grip, shaped vaguely like a small pistol; varieties are known by names such as Belgian, German, Russian, and Visconti.

Plaqué: a point attack that lands flat.

Plastron: 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 line): an extended arm and blade that threatens the opponent.

Pommel: a fastener that attaches the grip to the blade.

Presentation: offering one's blade for engagement by the opponent.

Press (Presser vs. pressionn): 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.

Prime: parry #1; blade down and to the inside, wrist pronated.

Principle of Defense: the use of forte against foible when parrying.

Priority: 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.

Q and R

Quarte: parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated.

Quinte: 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: 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.

Referee (Arbitre, Président): the director, president; the mediator of the fencing bout.

Remise: immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried, without withdrawing the arm.

Reprise: renewal of an attack that missed or was parried, after a return to en-garde

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: an attack made immediately after a parry of the opponent's attack.


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: with the weapon, a customary acknowledgement of one's opponent and referee at the start and end of the bout.

Second 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: parry #2; blade down and to the outside, wrist pronated.

Septime: parry #7; blade down and to the inside, wrist supinated.

Simple: an attack (or riposte) that involves no feints.

Simultaneous: in foil and sabre, two attacks for which the right-of- way is too close to determine.

Sixte: parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated.

Stop Hit: a counter-attack that hits; also a counter-attack whose touch is valid by virtue of it's timing.

Stop Cut: a stop-hit with the edge in sabre, typically to the cuff.

T, W, and Y

Thrown Point (Coup lance): a "flick"

Thrust (coup d'estoc): an attack made by moving the sword parallel to its length and landing with the point.

Tierce: parry #3; blade up and to the outside, wrist pronated.

Trompement: deception of the parry.

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): warning; used to indicate a minor rule infraction by one of the fencers.

Website and contents copyright 2006-2017  Lynn El-Hillow and EMWeb. All rights reserved.