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Fencing: Terms to Know

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Advance

To move forward on the piste.

Allez

The French word for "Go."  This is the command for fencers to begin fencing.

Attack

A movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point against his opponent.

Balestra

A short jump toward the opponent, often combined with a lunge or fleche.

Beat

A sharp tap on the opponent's blade to initiate attack or threat of attack.

Blade

The steel part of the weapon extending from the guard.

Bout

Combat between two fencers in competition. When score is not kept, friendly combat between two fencers is referred to as an assault.

Counter-parry

A defensive movement by which the fencer goes around the opponent's blade and moves the opponent's blade away.

Counter-riposte

Offensive action made by a fencer who has parried a riposte.

Disengagement

A break of contact between fencers' blades made by passing the blade under the opponent's.

Engagement

Contact of the weapon blades.

En garde

The position taken before a bout begins, or after a break in action.

Feint

A false attack intended to get a reaction from the opposing fencer which will open her up to a genuine attack.

FIE

The acronym for fencing's international governing body (Federation Internationale d'Escrime, in French).

Fleche

A short running attack towards the opponent.

Guard

A part of the weapon between the blade and handle which protects the hand.

In-line position

A specific position in which the fencer's sword arm is kept straight and the point of the weapon continually threatens the opponent's valid target.

Lunge

A common fencing attack in which a competitor advances on the opponent by moving his/her front leg forward, while the back leg remains stationary and straightens out.

Match

The aggregate of the bouts fought between the fencers of two different teams is called a match. (Note: In French, the word for this is "rencontre," which means "encounter." The French use the word "match" as "bout" is used in English.)

Parry

A defensive action in which a fencer blocks the opponent's blade.

Piste

The French term for the field of play on which bouts are contested. Also called the "strip," it is made of metallic mesh and measures 14 meters long (46 feet) by 1.5 meters wide (4 feet, 10 inches).

Prete

The French word for "Ready," precedes "Allez" as the command to fence.

Recover

To return to the en garde position following a lunge.

Redoublement

A new action made against an opponent who has parried without a riposte or who has merely avoided the first action by retreating or dodging.

Remise

Attacking again immediately after the opponent parries an initial attack.

Riposte

A defender's counterattack after parrying.

Reprise

Recovery into the en garde position followed by an attack.

Thrust

The quick extension of the sword blade without foot movement.

USFA

United States Fencing Association, the official governing body for amateur fencing activities in the United States, recognized by the FIE and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).

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