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A combat sport in which two competitors fight using rapier-style swords, using either the foil, the epee, or the sabre. Based on traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport was born at the end of the 19th century in Western Europe.

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The Basics

  • There are three forms of modern fencing. Each type involves using a different style of weapon and a different set of rules. However, the basic objective of each discipline is to score points by making contact with your opponent.
  • The foil is a flexible, lightweight, rectangular-shaped sword. Points are scored by touching the chest of your opponent with the tip of the blade. The epee is similar in shape but is bigger and heavier than the foil. Again, points are scored with the tip of the blade, but competitors are permitted to strike anywhere on the body. 
  • The sabre permits competitors to score with the edge of the blade, ensuring its place as the fastest and most challenging discipline. 


  • Competitive fencing is one of five activities which have been featured in every one of the modern Olympic Games, the other four being athletics, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics.
  • Italy (125 medals) and France (118) are the two most successful nations in the sport’s Olympic history. Great Britain has only won nine fencing medals – one gold and eight silvers. The former came for ten-time British champion Gillian Sheen in 1956.
  • Wheelchair Fencing takes place at the Summer Paralympics. France, with 144 medals, is the most successful nation, with Italy second on 80 medals. Great British is in seventh place with a total of 41 medals.

Famous Competitors

  • Valentina Vezzali – the most successful female Olympic fencer of all-time, with six gold medals, one silver and two bronzes across five Olympic Games, the last of which came in London in 2012. She is also a 27-time World Championship medallist, a 20-time European Championship medallist, and a member of the Italian Parliament.
  • Richard Kruse – Great Britain have not won an Olympic fencing medal of any colour since 1964. Kruse came painfully close to changing that in Rio in 2016, but narrowly missed out as he lost the bronze medal match 15-13. A year earlier Kruse had helped Team GB win gold in the European foil event, the eighth European medal of his career.

National Governing Body

British Fencing – please click here for more information.


  • Intra-School Primary: Competition Card
  • Intra-School Primary: Challenge Card
  • Intra-School Secondary 
  • Local Inter-School
  • Inclusive Specific Sport Format

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