Olympic Trend: Fencing
Whenever fencing is mentioned recently, there would be a direct association with the Hong Kong "Fencing God" Cheung Ka Long, the Tokyo Olympic gold medallist of Men's Individual Foil. And yet, how much do you know about the types and rules of this elegant game?
Types of fencing
After several centuries of development, fencing has become a codified sport, and it is categorised into three types according to the weapon.
The foil is the lightest sword of the three and is most often used by beginners for practise. To score, fencers target their opponent’s torso, which is the area below the neck and above the thigh, with the tip of the sword. If both fencers hit their opponents simultaneously, the fencer on offence, that is, the fencer who advanced first and had the priority or the "right of way", scores a point. The fencer on defence has to make a valid defensive movement, a parry, before launching an offence to score.
The Épée is the heaviest of the three. A fencer can score with the tip of the blade on all parts of the opponent’s body, and therefore it has the largest attack range. In a game of Épée, when both fencers hit each other simultaneously, both fencers would receive a point. Thus, it is equally important to attack and parry as there is no priority of “right of way” or the advantage of being on the offensive side.
The biggest difference between the sabre and the other two is that fencers can also score with the sides of the blade, which is why fencers need good protection for their fingers. As a result, the movements and attacks are swifter and more intense. The target area for a game of Sabre is the torso above the waist, the mask and the arms. The rule of “right of way” also applies to a game of Sabre. Thus, when fencers hit each other simultaneously, the referee would award the point to the fencer who launched the attack first.
Watch the video below to know more about how to play fencing.
Fencing is an intense and thrilling game. You will have a more engaging experience viewing the game if you know the basic rules and regulations!
Individual events begin with pool games with 5 to 7 fencers in each group, and they will each try to score 5 points in 3 minutes. Then it will proceed to direct elimination based on the rankings. Each game is divided into 3 periods of 3 minutes each with a 1-minute break in between periods. The winner will be the fencer who scores 15 points first or has scored more hits than the opponent within the game time.
If there is a tie when the game time is finished, there will be 1 minute extra time under the rule of sudden death, where the first fencer to hit the opponent and score would win the game. Before the extra time, both sides will draw lots to decide who the winner of the game will be if both sides fail to score during the extra time
For team events, the winner will be decided by direct elimination. Both teams consist of 3 fencers and 1 substitute fencer. Each game has 9 periods of 3 minutes or 5 hits. The three fencers will each take their turn to play and the team that scores 45 points first will win.
These rules also apply to wheelchair fencing, which also has games of Foil, Épée and Sabre. In the case of wheelchair fencing, since the fencers’ wheelchairs are fixed to the floor, the fencers can only freely move their upper bodies.
Advanced electronic equipment is used to judge in fencing games: one fencer is equipped with a red light sensor and the other a green one. When the fencer hits the opponent, the electronic devices will judge whether the hit is a valid or invalid attack. If the attack is valid, the equipment will signal with the light of the respective side. If the attack is invalid, the equipment will signal with a white light.
Development and promotion of fencing in Hong Kong
With the steady development of fencing in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong fencing team also obtained excellent results in international games. The team won 2 silver medals and 5 bronze medals in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and 8 bronze medals in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
Watch the interview with Hong Kong's lead female fencer Vivian Kong Man Wai.
(The video is in Cantonese)
And the video about the Olympic Gold Medalist Cheung Ka Long
(The video is in Cantonese)
Fencing requires good physical fitness, quick reflexes, technique, fast reaction times and a high degree of concentration. It is also immensely helpful in training one’s balance, hand-eye coordination and responsiveness. The Hong Kong Fencing Association (HKFA) is dedicated to promoting the development of fencing in Hong Kong. With the sponsorship of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the HKFA established community sports clubs and holds regular fencing classes to give the public a chance to try fencing.
If you are interested in joining a fencing course, please consult the webpage of the Hong Kong Fencing Association or contact their staff at 2504 8106 for more details.
For more details about fencing, please visit the website of LCSD or search in Youth.gov.hk website.