Fencing Glossary – Bay State Fencers

Fencing Glossary

The following is a detailed list of fencing terms and their definitions.



Taking a step towards one's opponent. Forward step of the front foot followed by a forward step of the rear foot.


Movement or series of movements by which a fencer tries to score a point. In foil and saber, the fencer who attacks first acquires the "right-of-way." In order to execute a attack properly (i.e. one that the referee will acknowledge), the fencer's hand must be clearly extending towards their opponent's valid target in a threatening manner.

Attack, Direct

Simple offensive action executed in a straight line.

Attack, Indirect

Offensive action executed in a line other than the one in which it originated.


Sharp tap on the opponent's blade to initiate an attack or provoke a reaction.


Evasive action in which the fencer avoids the opponent's attempt to take their blade. Is a semi-circular movement of the point with an extension of the arm that moves the point from one line to the opposite line.

Double Advance

A succession of two advances with a change of tempo.

Double Retreat

A succession of two retreats with a change of tempo.


Contact between the fencers' blades - often as the prelude to an attack.

En Garde

The position taken before fencing begins. Position most favorable for equal readiness of offense, defense, counter-offence and mobility.


A false attack intended to get a defensive reaction from the opposing fencer, thus creating the opportunity for a genuine attack ("feint-disengage attack")


Explosive, running attack (Foil and Epee only)


Action unique to saber - a combination of a lunge and a fleche. Evolved recently after the FIE modified saber rules in 1992 to prohibit running attacks.


Part of the weapon between the blade and handle; protects the hand (also: "bell-guard")

Parry & Counter Parry

Defensive action in which a fencer blocks his opponent's blade.

Parry, Lateral

Parry made by moving the blade in a horizontal motion.

Parry, Circular

Parry made by moving the blade in a circular motion.


Backward step of the rear foot followed by a backward step of the front foot.


Most common attack technique, in which the fencer launches themselves at their opponent by pushing off from their back leg (which generally remains stationary).


Area of target defined by the relative position of the weapon hand.


"Thrust with Opposition" - To simultaneously deflect the opponent's point with one's guard while making an attack of one's own. Commonly used in epee to avoid a double touch.


French term for the fencing strip.


Action in which the fencer, who is generally out of attacking range, points their weapon at their opponent with their arm fully extended. A fencer who establishes a point in line has right of way, and their opponent cannot attack until they remove the blade from line by executing a beat.


Defender's offensive action executed after a parry. It may be either simple (in one line) or compound (multiple actions).


The return to the en garde position after lunging.


Attacking again immediately after the opponent's parry of an initial attack.

Second Intention

A tactic in which a fencer executes a convincing, yet false, action in hopes of drawing a true, committed reaction from their opponent.

Stop Hit or Stop Cut (saber)

A counter-action made at the moment of an opponent's hesitation, feint, or poorly executed attack. To be awarded the point, the fencer attempting a stop hit must clearly catch their opponent's tempo. Hence, if their Stop Hit is not "in time," the referee may award the touch to their attacker.


Field of play or piste; 14 meters long by 2 meters wide.