How do I start Sport Fencing?

Sport Fencing Classes

The IFC currently offers instruction in two of the three Olympic Fencing weapons: Foil and Épée.  We offer beginners’ classes in both weapons.  All classes are 6 weeks long, with a 1  hour session each week.  We provide all of the required fencing equipment. You can find links to register for all of our classes on our home page under the REGISTER FOR BEGINNERS’ CLASSES header. Club membership is not required to take our classes.

We offer two paths to learning to fence: 1) Fencing 1 (Beginning Foil), and 2) Beginning Epee.  Either choice is fine depending on your preference.  We also offer Fencing 2 (Beginning Epee) for those that have taken Fencing 1. It builds upon what was learned in Fencing 1. A description of fencing, the classes offered, and the differences between weapons is included below to help you make your decision.

Fencing 1 (Beginning Foil Class)

Foil classes are offered for both adults (14 years and up) and youth (8 years and up).  Foil classes are currently only held at Wilfong Pavilion in Founders Park through Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation.  The class includes basic foil footwork, blade work, rules, and bouting.

Beginning Épée Classes

Épée classes are offered for anyone 8 years of age and up.  There are two versions of the class:

The first is Beginning Épée which is for students that have never taken a fencing class. It is held at our Club site in Noblesville.  The class includes basic foil footwork, blade work, rules, and bouting. Electric scoring equipment is used.

The second is Fencing 2 (Beginning Épée).  It is for students that have take Beginning Foil (Fencing 1).  Classes are held at Wilfong Pavilion in Founders Park through Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation.  Student that have taken Fencing 1 may also take Beginning Epee in Noblesville, but there will be some repetition of content.

Fencing Overview

Fencing is done on a strip or piste that is approximately 14 meters long and 1.5 meters wide.  Scoring is done electronically and a referee calls the action and enforces the rules. Bouts are to 15 touches (or points) and consist of three 3-minute periods (time is stopped between actions) with a 1 minute break between each period.

Épée Fencing

Épée fencing is based on the European dueling weapon and its rules are fairly simple.  Duels were usually fought to “first blood,” so touches (or points) in Épée fencing are scored by hitting your opponent anywhere on the body that would bleed.  Épée is the only fencing weapon where double touches can be scored.  If both fencers hit each other within 200 milliseconds, both score a touch. The Épée is the heaviest weapon and incorporates a fairly large bell guard to shield the hand from touches (since the hand is a valid and popular target).  Touches can only be scored with the point.

Foil Fencing

The Foil was originally created as a training weapon for Épée and was not used as a real weapon.  Foil fencing is similar to Épée fencing with two major exceptions.  First, the valid target area is the torso, front and back, from the neck through the groin.  Foil fencers wear a “lame” which is a metal vest that covers the valid target area.  A fencer must hit the lame with the foil’s tip in order to score a touch.  Any touch to a non-target area does not count.  Second, Foil uses a system called “right of way.”  This means that the fencer initiating an attack has the “right of way” and their opponent must stop the attack before they can attack.  The best way to think about this is, in a real duel, the first priority is to not die.  Killing your opponent while they are killing you is not the best outcome, so first, defend yourself, then attack your opponent. The bout’s referee calls the “right of way” action and awards touches.  The foil is the lightest and most flexible weapon.