In order to harmonize practice and theory at the conventional weapons, the FIE president and Executive committee have made proposals to modify some articles of the Rules.

The FIE has asked the opinion of five specialists of international notoriety. 



           Dear president of the FIE!

                  Dear René.


    Your efforts directed at the development of fencing throughout the world, are extremely important. The realization of suggestions regarding the modification of several articles of the rules will allow:


    a) To specify and simplify the definition of "fencing time" that will better facilitate refereeing of foil and sabre bouts

    b) Will make it easier for spectators to understand the results of fencing bouts at competitions;

    c) Will simplify TV coverage and will make fencing understandable for TV viewers;

    d) Will facilitate better understanding of the efficiency of the fencers’ actions during training bouts.

    e) Will make the scoring apparatus a better tool to be used in training; thus speeding up  the improvement of the fencer’s professional skills in foil and sabre.

   All of the above mentioned points will eventually increase the number of fencers participating in foil and sabre and will raise the level of many fencing teams around the world, which do not in the mean time have enough qualified coaches and referees.

   In response to your questions, let us state certain facts, which are the result of much research as well as analysis of fencing bouts at competitions.

   1. Does foil fencing have unique characteristics or are these characteristics being lost?

   In the mean time foil fencing retains the basic elements of fencing culture regulated by the rules. However the development of fencing is constrained by the following factors:

       а) The tendency to use attack with a series of coupes  instead of attacks by disengagements, especially  in the case of an attack executed from long distance

         (4  meters) as it is easier to avoid the opponent’s blade ( parry),

       b) With the increased intensity of fencing in a bout and maneuver on the piste, hits are mainly executed to the inside sector (approximately 3:1 in comparison with hits to outside sector).

       c) Breaks during the bouts caused by hits to the shoulder, mask or leg occur far to often and do not allow  fencers to continue  the fencing phrase with a riposte or a counter-riposte.

       d) The technique of executing hits by using excessive flexibility of the blade is spreading.

      2. Shortening of the "blocking times" for the scoring apparatus.

       The shortening of "blocking time" is only meaningful  as a definition of  “fencing time” (time of successful counter attack or remise) to facilitate refereeing, and also to give the fencers an objective criterion for judging their own actions in the fencing phrases. Therefore "blocking time" of 250 milliseconds for the foil bouts is unsuitable.


    The estimation of “fencing time” by qualified referees in foil fencing is within the limits of 150 -180 milliseconds. In sabre  -  “fencing time” is estimated by qualified referees within the limits of 140-160 milliseconds.

    “Blocking time” within the limits of 200 milliseconds, causes disputes between referees and fencers in judging actions during bouts.


    3. The definition of the rules for the duration of contact of a tip of a foil with a conductive jacket of the opponent is advisable. However, research must be done to establish the correct time. A testing period of this new regulation during training and competition is vital.


     4. The reduction of the distance between fencers  at the beginning and at the resumption of the bout from 4  to 3 meters is necessary for many reasons:

      а)the  existing distance (4 meters) at the beginning of the bout allows a fencer to attack  from the “running approach”, increasing the speed of attack by using a series of steps or jump and a lunge.

     It is well known, that in track and field athletics the standing jump is three times shorter than a running jump. Additionally the speed of a runner is slowest immediately after the start and is greatest once he has accelerated and reached maximum speed after the initial period of acceleration.

      b) A fencer who starts an attack from 4 meters after the referee has said "play" has an advantage over a defending fencer as his blade is still very far from the blade of opponent. And if the defending fencer intends to determine the sector where the attack will land and then to parry this attack it then becomes very difficult for him to keep the intensity of attention because of the long duration of the attack.

      c) The distance of 4 meters causes the high incidence of simultaneous attacks and reduces the number of phrases using parries and ripostes. This data has been obtained following recording and analysis of many bouts and competitions.


     Changing this article of the rules will allow the referee to stand closer to the participants, will increase the size of the image of the fencers on television screens. Besides, bouts on a shorter distance (2.8 - 3 meters) have been used in training for the purpose of mastering techniques and tactics for a long time.


    5. The cancellation of white lamps in foil fencing will not change the tactics of the bout.

    The reason being, that hits on the arm, leg or mask are not executed intentionally and are the result of a mistake in the fencers’ reactions caused by rapid changes of distance. Thus if together with a cancellation of white lamps the valid target is increased to half of the sleeve (the shoulders of both arms) the number of disengages in the out side sector (shoulder) will increase, and arms cannot be used with a view to protecting the  trunk against attacks or ripostes of the opponent.


    6. The crossing of the legs during the forward movement in a foil attack only in part complicates refereeing and the tele-comment of fights. Before reaching a decision regarding the forward crossing of the legs, research must be carried out and trial competitions conducted for the analysis of objective data on the consequences of possible (probable) changes.

     With deep respect and friendly greetings,

      David and Gennady Tyshler