Fencing – A History

Fencing – the world’s oldest modern sport

Fencing has it’s roots in ancient combat. The Egyptians were fencing for sport around 1200B.C as depicted in paintings and reliefs found in the pyramids. The swords used vary from the short weapons of the Greeks and Romans to the heavy two-handed broadswords of the Vikings and English Knights. The invention of gunpowder brought about smaller and lighter swords similar to those we use today. Prime amongst these in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the rapier. This was carried as a side arm for personal protection and to settle ‘matters of honour’. It became the duelling weapon which later developed in to the sporting epée.


Epée developed from the rapier. It is the heaviest of all the weapons used in modern fencing. An epée fight represents a duel.
Hits are scored with the point. There is no precedence of the actions, whoever hits first scores. If hits arrive absolutely together both fencers score. Also the target is the whole of the body.
These rules make it easier to understand than the other weapons. Most attacks are to the nearest point of the opponent — the wrist, making it often more difficult to see the actions.
Epée fights tend to be a test of patience with longer pauses between the action—one false move and you’re hit!

British Fencing

The main governing body of fencing is the British Fencing Association (BFA). To be able to fence in competitions you have to be a member of the BFA. Membership provides you with insurance. Frisby Fencers is affiliated to the BFA, to the East Midlands Region and to the Leicestershire and Rutland Fencing Union.