History of Fencing

Fencing is an historic sport with its roots in the skills taught to warriors using thrusting and slashing waepons. The thrusting technique of a gladius wielded by a Roman Centurion and the slashing sabres of Wellington's Hussars have had equal bearing on the development of the sport of fencing.

As the centuries and technology advanced, so too did the techniques and tools of swordsmanship. Eventually, after the advent of firearms, the requirements of modern warfare led to swords becoming a ceremonial side arm, or a duelling weapon of officers and gentlemen. Yet still the etiquette and accompanying skills of swordplay remained valued by this select class and training in the use of the small sword continued.

The expertise with this weapon, passed on in Salles and Academie throughout Europe, led to the elegant, modern sport of fencing with the tip-scoring weapons, foil and epee. For fencers with a muted sense of style and finesse there is a thrid weapon, the sabre. All three weapons are represented in events at World Championships and the Olympic Games.

Fencing Facts

  • Fencing was a sport at the inaugural 1896, Athens Olympic Games
  • Australia first sent a fencing team to the 1952, Helsinki Olypmics
  • Women's Olympic events commenced at Paris in 1924
  • The longest gold medal winning span by an Olympian is over 6 games by Hungarian fencer, Aladar Gerevich (1932-1960)
  • Fencing is practiced in 140 countries, at 43,000 clubs, by 1.5 million fencers
  • The oldest club is Ghent, Belgium. It was established in 1613 and has met twice a week for over 400 years.
Never deny a hit!
— Martelli C. 'An Improved System of Fencing' 1819
Do not flatter yourself in lessons, and still less in your assault.
Endeavour both to discover your adversary’s designs, and conceal your own.
To parry well is of great service, but it is nothing if you can do no more!
Be not angry at receiving a touch, but take care to avoid it.
Do nothing that is useless; every motion should tend to your advantage