Glossary of Fencing Terms


à propos see timing
Absence du fer see absence of blades
Absence of blades when the adversary’s blades are not in contact
Actions contre-offensives see counter-attacks
Actions simultanées see simultaneous attacks
Advanced target at épée and sabre those targets in advance of the trunk e.g. forearm, hand, thigh
Avancées see advanced target
Aides/Aids the last three fingers of the sword hand that assist in the manipulation of the handle
Angulation the inclination of the blade and sword hand from the arm in order to strike at an oblique target
Appel a foot action of striking the ground with the soul of the front foot to distract the opponent
Appuntata (It) a remise into a delayed riposte
Arbitre a judge, see also referee
Arrêt see stop hit
Arrêt avec fer see time hit
Assaut see bout
Assesseur a judge, see also referee
Attack the initial offensive action in a phrase, initiated with a progressive movement of hand and blade towards the target - it may be simple or compound
Attack on the blade an action such as a beat against the opponent’s blade
Attaque see attack
Attaque au fer see attack on the blade
Attaque composée see compound attack
Attaque progressive see progressive attack
Attaque renouvelée see renewed attack
Attaque simple see simple attack


Back beat at sabre a beat using the back edge of the blade
Back parry at sabre a parry of quinte from tierce performed with a cut-over
Balestra a jump-like form of advance when both feet land simultaneously
Barrage a fight off; when two fencers of the same ranking must fight for promotion
Battement see beat
Battement renversé see back beat
Bind a prise de fer that transports the opposing blade diagonally
Beat an action striking the opponent’s blade with ones own
Beat parry a parry that is formed by striking the attacking blade rather than maintaining opposition
Blade in line see point in line
Bout the combat between two fencers
Broken time an attack or riposte that pauses in its delivery in order to exploit the rhythm of the opponent’s defence


Ceding parry a parry formed by yielding to the pressure of a prise de fer attack
Change beat beating the blade on the opposite side to which originally engaged
Change coulé a coulé formed on the opposite side to which originally engaged
Changement d’engagement see change of engagement
Change froissement a froissment formed on the blade on the opposite side to which originally engaged
Change of engagement re-engagment of the blade on the opposite side to which originally engaged
Change of intention an attack that is spontaneously modified because of an unexpected response - see also choice reaction
Change pressure a pressure formed on the blade on the opposite side to which originally engaged
Changez-battez see change beat
Changez-coulez see change coulé
Changez-froissez see change froissement
Changez-pressez see change pressure
Choice of action a fencing drill where the fencer has free choice of two or more strokes in a phrase, usually the initial or final action
Choice reaction a fencing drill where two or more conclusions are possible - see also open eyes attack and change of intention
Cible = target
Circular parry a parry formed with circle so starting and finishing in the same line
Closed distance close quarters, a distance at which the arm needs to be bent and/or an angulation formed in order to hit
Composite attack see compound attack
Compound attack an attack with one or more feints
Compound preparation see preparation
Compound counter riposte a counter riposte with one or more feints
Compound riposte a riposte with one or more feints
Continuation general term for a renewed offensive action (e.g. redouble of attack or riposte)
Contre-attaque see counter attack
Contre-dégagement see counter disengage
Contre-parade see circular parry
Contre-riposte see counter riposte
Contre-temps see counter time
Copertino (It) change pressure as an attack
Coquille = shell or guard of the weapon
Corps a corps body contact between two fencers - will automatically stop the bout as fencing is a no-contact sport!
Coulé see graze
Counter-attack an offensive action into an attack; see stop hit, time hit
Counter-disengage an evasive action that avoids a circular engagement
Counter-offensive see counter attack
Counter parry see circular parry
Counter riposte the offensive action taken following the parry of a riposte (or counter-riposte); it may be immediate, delayed, simple or compound, with or without prise de fer or broken time; if immediate and simple it will have priority over any renewal of the riposte.
Counter time an offensive action that responds to the opponent’s counter- attack; usually an act of second intention whereby the counter attack is parried in order to deliver a riposte
Coup d’arrêt see stop hit
Coup de temps see time hit
Coup double see double hit
Coup droit direct attack
Coup lancé see thrown hit
Coup manchette see manchette
Couper la ligne see cutting the line
Coupé see cut-over
Couvert see covered
Covered a position of engagement where the opponent cannot score by direct thrust
Croisé a prise de fer whereby the opposing blade is taken from high to low (or vice versa) on the same side
Crosse orthopaedic grip - see poignée
Cut-over an evasion of the opponent’s blade made by passing over the point as opposed to using a disengage or counter-disengage
Cutting the line a semicircular parry that moves from high to low (or vice versa) and simultaneously from inside to outside (or vice versa) - sometimes referred to as a diagonal parry

Dégagement disengagement
Demi-cercle a semicircular parry from sixte to high septime
Dérobement an evasive action against the opponent’s attempt to engage, beat or take the blade which is in line with the point threatening the target
Destructive parry the parry from quarte to septime that intercepts the attacking disengagement and so acts both as parry and prise de fer - with a slight forward thrust it is capable of disarming the opponent
Deuxième intention see second intention
Development the successive and co-ordinated progression of the weapon and limbs when forming a lunge.
Diagonal parry see cutting the line
Direct attack a simple attack without evasion of the opponent’s blade.
Directeur du combat see referee
Disengagement an evasion of the opponent’s attempt to engage or the release therefrom - see also counter disengagement
Distance the distance between two fencers in order that the target may hit - this may also be classified as riposting distance (where only the extension of the arm is necessary) or lunging distance. The distance for the commencement of a bout is 4 metres.
Doigté see fingerplay
Double engagement a succession of engagement and change of engagement by the same fencer
Double hit where two fencers are judged to have hit at the same time but one has priority over the other (eg an attack and counter-attack) as opposed to a simultaneous attacks.
Double parry a succession of two parries to deflect an attack (or riposte) and its renewal - see also successive parries
Double preparation see preparation
Doublement a compound offensive action of disengage feint followed by counter-disengagement
Doublé a compound offensive action composed of a counter-disengage feint followed by trompement of counter-disengagement
En garde On guard
En marchant see under progressive attack
Engagement contact with the opposing blade - the engagement may be a light contact or hold the opposing blade covered in one of the lines or guards e.g. sixte
Envelopment a circular prise de fer
Faible see foible
False attack an attack not intended to hit but to explore or exploit the opponent’s response
Feint an offensive threat designed to provoke a response which is then exploited, either by the use of a compound action, a counter-riposte or by counter-time
Feint parry a partly formed parry intended to trigger the opponent’s attack
Fencing distance see distance
Fencing line an imaginary line that joins the heels and front toes of two fencers
Fencing measure the distance of a lunge separating two fencers - see distance
Fencing time the duration of a single action of blade and/or foot, a convention that assists in prioritising actions in a bout
Fente = lunge
Filo (It) see graze
Fingerplay the use of the fingers (the manipulators and aids) by relaxation and contraction to control the handle of the weapon.
First counter riposte the reply made by the original attacker on the opponent’s riposte; it may be by reaction or as second intention
First intention an attack delivered without thought of a subsequent stroke or tactic
Flancon(n)ade a prise de fer through quarte and quinte to strike at the flank
Flèche “arrow” - an attack delivered with advancement of the sword arm and body accompanied with propulsion from the front leg but without advancement of the front foot
Flying parry a parry that simultaneously grazes over the oppontent's point for the riposte - see also through beat
Flick hit a misnomer - see thrown hit
Foible that part of the blade nearest the point
Forcer to engage with force
Fort(e) that part of the blade nearest the guard
Froissement an attack on the blade with pressure combined with a vigorous grazing action from the foible to the middle of the opposing blade.


Garde see guard
Graze an action along the blade to prepare or launch an attack
Guard (i.) the protective shell of the weapon (ii.) a protective stance e.g. guard of sixte
Half parry see feint parry
Half step an incomplete step forward or backward
High line(s) see line
High septime the blade position with the hand raised in septime that protects from hits arriving over the blade, or used to lift thrusts safely past the position of septime
High sixte (or neuvieme) the blade position with the hand raised in sixte that protects from hits arriving over the blade
Indirect attack a simple attack that is not direct e.g. delivered by, disengage, counter-disengage or cut-over
Indirect riposte a simple riposte that is not direct e.g. delivered by, disengage, counter-disengage or cut-over
In quartata (It) a counter-attack along the line of quarte with body displacement
Insufficient parry a parry which, although making contact, fails to sufficiently cover the line being protected and fails to deflect the attacking blade from the target
Invito (invitation) the deliberate opening of a line offering the possibility of attack to the opponent
Lame = blade
Lamé see plastron
Liement see bind
Ligne d’engagement see fencing line
Line(s) (i.) see blade in line (ii.) high lines - blade positions of sixte and quarte and the imaginary lines from them (iii.) low lines - blade positions of septime and octave and the imaginary lines from them (iv.) high lines - blade positions of sixte and quarte and the targets protected by them (v.) low lines - blade positions of septime and octave and the targets protected by them
Low line(s) see line

Manchette the most advanced target at sabre and the cut thereto
Manipulators the thumb and forefinger which are primarily responsible for the control and direction of the weapon - see aids
Mesure d’escrime see fencing measure
Mezzocerchio (It) half circle parry lifting to high septime
Molinello (It) see moulinet
Moulinet a circular cut at sabre (‘windmill’)
Muette see silent lesson
Neuvieme the ninth position of the blade - see prime; otherwise known as high sixte
Octave the eighth position of the blade - see prime
One-two a compound attack consisting of a disengage feint followed by a trompement by disengagement
Open eyes attack an attack that commences without premeditation of the opponent’s response and adapts accordingly - as opposed to ‘change of intention’ where the fencer reacts when a preconceived response does not materialise - see choice reaction
Opposition a thrust that maintains contact with the opposing blade and so covers the attackers target in the line of thrust
Opposition parry a parry that maintains contact with the blade during (and after) the formation of the parry

Parade see parry
Parade circulaire see circular parry
Parade composée see successive parries
Parade en cédant see ceding parry
Parade de contraction a parry which intercepts the final deception of a compound attack
Parade direct lateral parry
Parade d’opposition see opposition parry
Parade du tac see beat parry
Parade insuffisante see insufficient parry
Parade latérale lateral parry
Parade semi-circulaire see semi-circular parry
Parades successives see successive parries
Parry a defensive action with the blade; it may be simple (lateral), circular or semi-circular; it may have a beat- or graze-like quality or maintain opposition - see principle of defence.
Passata sotto (It) historic counter-attack, ducking whilst lunging back
Phrase the sequence of offensive exchanges between two fencers
Pied ferme see under progressive attack
Piste ‘strip’ - the area of play for a bout
Plastron protective vest (i.) worn under a the jacket of a fencer for added protection to the armpit (ii.) pad worn by a fencing coach for protection of the body (iii.) plastron métallique; a metallic vest worn over the fencing jacket to record hits at foil and sabre
Poignée handle or grip - see crosse
Pommel the weighted base of the handle which also serves to dis/assemble the weapon
Point in line an extension of arm and blade from shoulder to point threatening the opponent; in foil and sabre an established point in line has priority over an attack
Première intention see first intention
Preparation an action of blade, foot (or body) preparatory to an attack (but not part of the attack); it may be compound (two actions performed at the same time e.g. a step with an engagement) or double (two actions performed in succession)
President see referee
Pression see pressure
Pressure preparation or commencement of an attack by applying leverage to the opponent’s blade in the same line as contact
Prime the first position of the blade - historically the position obtained by drawing a weapon from its scabbard
Priority the convention (at foil and sabre) that recognises that one action has advantage over another even though both actions may hit; the line has priority over an attack.
Principle of defence the opposition of the forte of the defending blade to the foible of the opposing blade in order to deflect a thrust
Prise de fer an action that levers and controls the opponents blade either combined with the attack or as a preparation for attack. See bind, croisé and envelopment
Progressive attack a compound attack performed with the feint and deception formed whilst lunging as opposed to advancing (en marchant) or fixed footed (pied ferme)
Pronation hand position whereby the palm faces downwards (e.g. seconde) - see supination

Quarte the fourth position of the blade - see prime
Quinte the fifth position of the blade - see prime; at foil and épée it is a further rotation from quarte, at sabre it protects the head, both positions are pronated
Rassemblement the bringing of the feet together, usually by withdrawing the front foot to the rear and whilst performing a stop hit
Redouble(ment) a renewal of attack or riposte in a new line (e.g by disengage or cut-over) the first having been parried (usually an opposition parry) performed at riposting distance, in the lunge or during the recovery
Referee formerly President, also Directeur du combat; assisted by judges
Remise a renewal of attack or riposte in the same line the first having been parried (usually the parry has been followed by a detachment) performed at riposting distance, in the lunge or during the recovery; usually an act of second intention
Renewed attack a further attack following the failure of the first; see remise, reprise and redouble
Replacement a misnomer - see remise and redouble
Reprise the renewal of attack or riposte (the first having been parried) and requiring a further forward action by lunge or flèche, the blade action may be simple, compound, with or without an attack on the blade.
Right of way see priority
Riposte the offensive action taken following the parry of an attack; it may be immediate, delayed, simple or compound, with or without prise de fer or broken time; if immediate and simple it will have priority over any renewal of the attack.
Riposte composée see compound riposte
Riposting distance see distance
Rompre to retire; step back
Salut(e) the courtesy of acknowledging the opponent (and referee) at the commencement and conclusion of a bout usually by raising the weapon to the mask
Salute des armes a choreographed sequence of guards and thrusts to introduce a display of fencing
Sauter a fencer who lunges by lifting the front foot in an arc rather than extending in a line
Second(e) intention a tactic where the first offensive is a ploy in order to launch a premeditated second offensive exploiting the opponent’s response (e.g. first counter riposte, counter-time, remise)
Seconde the second position of the blade - see prime
Semi-circular parry a parry formed with such an action e.g. from sixte to octave
Semi-supination see supination
Sentiment du fer the feel of the blade through the fingers permitting interpretation of the opponent’s position and action.
Septime the seventh position of the blade - see prime
Silent lesson a lesson or drill without verbal command - the pupil responds only to the blade
Simple attack an attack without a feint, it may be direct or indirect and is executed in one period of time co-ordinated with a step, lunge or flèche.
Simultaneous attacks when the opponents conceive and execute attacks at the same moment
Sixte the sixth position of the blade - see prime; the classic fencing guard for the commencement of a bout
Stop hit a counter attack into the opponent’s feint or attack - to be valid it must arrive before the commencement of the attacker’s final action
Successive parries two or more parries to deflect a compound attack (or riposte)
Supination hand position whereby the palm faces upwards (e.g. sixte) - in modern fencing the palm in more likely to be in a vertical plane.
Taken-over attackan attack on the opponent's recovery, having first outdistanced their original attack
Temps d’escrime see fencing time
Temps perdu see Broken Time.
Through beat a grazing beat that strikes and passes over the point of the blade
Thrown hit (coup lancé) a hit delivered in cut-over-like fashion exploiting the momentum gained from the weighted point of a modern foil or épée
Tierce the third position of the blade - see prime
Time hit an old term having the concept of a stop hit with opposition such that the final thrust of the attack is intercepted
Timing the moment suitable for launching an offence to immediately exploit an action of the opponent.
Trompement with an extended and threatening blade to deceive the opponent’s attempt to parry (as in a derobement or final action of a compound attack)
Under plastron see plastron
Un-deux see one-two