Published: 16th March 2021
What the FAQ: What is competitive fencing all about and what is its Olympic history?
Fencing is one of the oldest sports in the Olympic Games. Here's all you need to know about it.
This week, C A Bhavani Devi made history by becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. The Chennai-based fencer secured a spot through the World Cup in Hungary after being qualified by the Adjusted Official Ranking method. She is currently ranked 45th in the World Rankings list. We take a look at this elite sport and its history.
1. When was fencing recognised as a sport and when did it become a part of the Olympics?
While swordplay has been practised for thousands of years, modern day fencing began as a form of military training. It was only in the 15th century that it was recognised as a sport. In 1896, it was introduced in the Olympic Games at Athens. The Women's fencing competition entered the Olympics in 1924 in Paris.
2. What are the categories of competitive fencing?
There are three forms of modern fencing, each of which uses a different kind of weapon and has different rules. Hence, the sport itself is divided into three competitive categories which are the foil, the épée, and the sabre. The foil is a light thrusting weapon with a maximum weight of 500 grams and targets the torso, but not the arms or legs. The épée is a thrusting weapon like the foil, but heavier, with a maximum total weight of 775 grams. The sabre is a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, except the weapon hand. Most competitive fencers choose to specialise in one weapon only.
3. What do fencers use to protect themselves?
Most personal protective equipment for fencers include a form-fitting jacket, an under-arm protector called the plastron, breeches, gloves, socks, shoes, masks, chest protector, protective sleeves, body cord, grips and an electrically conductive material worn over the jacket called lamé.
4. What is electronic scoring?
Electronic scoring is used in all major national and international, and most local, competitions. Both fencers' weapons are connected to a cord box via long retractable cables. The box normally carries a set of lights to signal when a touch has been made.
5. Who holds the record for most medals won at the Olympics fencing competition?
Italian fencer Edoardo Mangiarotti won 13 medals, including 6 golds, in an Olympic career spanning from 1936–1960.