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21 Fun Facts About Fencing

Are you looking for the best facts about fencing? From foil to épée to sabre, we’ve uncovered all the fencing facts you’ll ever need!

facts about fencing

1. Is fencing in the Olympics?

Yes! Fencing is actually one of the original Olympic disciplines and has been present at every Summer Games since 1896. Overall, there have been 668 medals awarded at the Olympics for fencing.

Other OG Olympic sports include swimming, cycling, gymnastics, tennis and weight lifting.

2. What are the different disciplines in fencing?

The first thing to learn about fencing is the three different disciplines popular in the sport. The three are foil, epee and sabre.

Epee and foil are known as ‘point weapons’ which means a stabbing motion is required to gain a point. In sabre, a slash or slice motion is accepted as long as it hits the target area.

what is fencing
There are three different disciplines in fencing

3. What country has the best fencers?

This is actually an interesting debate since many countries excel at the sport of fencing. In recent years, Russia has been the most successful at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Traditionally, Italy and France have been the dominant countries with the most Olympic and World Championship medals.

4. Is fencing the world’s fastest sport?

If you’ve read our articles on badminton and Formula 1 you’ll know there are a lot of fast sports out there, but what makes fencing so quick?

First there’s the 4-minute time limit per bout, so it’s a very quick fight. Second, to the untrained eye a fencer’s sword work is so rapid it’s almost impossible to follow. This means it really is one of the world’s fastest sports! What do you think though?

5. What makes a good fencer?

Fencers need incredible hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes to outduel their opponent. Fencers train extensively for optimal endurance, explosive speed and unmatched flexibility.

Only the best fencers have the mental fortitude and physical stamina to compete in a day full of bouts. The fencer that can keep their head clear through a grueling day of matches usually comes out on top.

all about fencing sport
Fencers have incredible hand to eye coordination

6. Are there weight classes in fencing?

This was one of the facts about fencing that really surprised us – there are no weight classes in fencing. It’s the only combat sport where size doesn’t matter.

Can you imagine if this happened in boxing? Or wrestling? This is another reason why fencing stands out in the crowd of combat sports.

7. What is the history of fencing?

The history of sword fighting can first be dated back to Egypt in the 12th century. The actual sport of fencing was born out of military training exercises in Germany and Italy around the 14th century. 

Fencing really took off in popularity with the introduction of the foil and mesh mask in the 17th century.

8. The technology of fencing

If you’ve watched fencing live or on television you know that when contact is made the opponent’s kit lights up to indicate a strike.

The first iteration of this ‘electrical epee’ was adopted in 1936, as the sport was often controversial due to the fencing officials missing calls or making incorrect determinations. Since the introduction of technology it has become much easier to follow as a sport.

fencing facts
Fencers fight on a piste

9. The parameter of the battlefield

The piste or fencing strip is the runway-like competition area that fencers compete on. The piste is 6.6 ft wide (2 m) and 46 ft (14 m) long and has a center line and two en-garde lines in which the fencers must remain inside or else concede a point. You can actually force a fencer of the back line of the piste if he or she keeps retreating enough.

10. What are the oldest fencing clubs in the world?

The oldest European fencing club is The Confrérie de Saint-Michel in Ghent, Belgium. Saint-Michel is also the patron saint of fencing. We bet that’s one of the fencing facts you didn’t know!

The oldest fencing club in the US is the New York Fencers Club that formed in 1883.

11. Why are fencing suits always white?

Before the invention of electrical scoring, touches were determined by a spot of ink. The combatants attached cotton to the end of their sword and then dipped it ink, so when they recorded a touch it would show up clearly on the white kit.

That is definitely one of the neatest fencing facts we uncovered!

who is the worlds best ever fencer
Edoardo Mangiarotti is the greatest male fencer of all time

12. Who is the greatest male fencer of all-time?

Italy certainly knows how to develop and produce the most dominant fencers. Edoardo Mangiarotti was a fencer of unmatched grace, speed, and international success. 

A six-time Olympic champion and 13-time World Champion, Mangiarotti was best known for leading the Italian team to impressive victories year after year. He won a total of 39 Olympic titles and World championships, more than any other fencer in the history of the sport.

13. Who is the greatest female fencer of all-time?

Look no further than Italy’s Valentina Vezzali. Vezzali is a six-time Olympic champion and 16-time world champion. She’s regarded as the most dominant fencer (male or female) of all-time.

This is unparalleled territory, probably never to be topped. The GOAT debate for a female fencer is settled!

14. Fencing is a worldwide phenomenon

The International Fencing Federation has 155 countries in its membership. These federations range from powerhouse fencing countries like Italy, Frace, Hungary and China to some of the smallest countries in the world, including Barbados, Bahrain and Cape Verde.

fun fencing facts
Fencing has appeared in a number of movies over the years

15. Why is it called fencing?

Here we go word nerds – the word fence comes from the Middle English word ‘defens’. Of course, in fencing, defense is one of the most important skills one can develop. 

Also, a fence around a structure is also a form of defense. It’s all starting to make sense to us now!

16. Fencing at the movies

There are many feature films in which fencing is featured or is pivotal to the storyline. Some classic examples include The Princess Bride (1987), The Three Musketeers (1993), By the Sword (1991), and The Mask of Zorro (1998). What fencing movie is next on your watch list?

17. What do fencing and ballet have in common?

Believe it or not, the positions in ballet are believed to be derived from different fencing stances. 

The stances include the foot being rotated outward during the en garde stance (ballet’s second position), as well as the lead shoulder pulling the weapon away from the opponent (ballet’s third position).

fun facts about fencing
We just love learning all about fencing

18. When was fencing first printed in the English language?

Here’s one of the more intriguing fencing facts we discovered. It was William Shakespeare who first used the word in English to refer to a sword battle. 

This occurred in his play Merry Wives of Windsor with the line, “with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence.”

19. Famous celebrity fencers

You’ll never believe the sheer amount of celebrities who have grown up with or taken up fencing! The list includes Will Smith, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and Grace Kelly.

Mark Zuckerberg was the captain of his high school fencing team. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the Public Schools Fencing Champion in 1892.

20. It’s better to learn in a group

On September 27th 2017, the Guinness World Record for the largest fencing lesson was broken in Birmingham, UK. 

The lesson, as part of celebrations for National Fitness Day, saw 300 people take part in learning the sport.

the history of fencing
Do you think you’d like to take up fencing?

21. When is World Fencing Day?

World Fencing Day is celebrated each year on September 9th. The theme for 2023 is ‘Fencing is for Everyone’ as the international Fencing Federation turns its attention to inclusion in the sport.

Who wants more fun facts?

fact books

If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!

  1. Interesting Facts for Curious Minds
  2. 1,144 Random, Interesting & Fun Facts You Need To Know
  3. The Intriguingly Interesting Book of 555 Fascinating Facts

We really hope you enjoyed all our fun facts about fencing! Did you learn something new? 

If there’s any fencing facts we missed, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article! 

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