Choice of weapon

This article describes a number of arguments for the choice of fencing with weapons within our association. It describes the content and structure of the introductory courses as they are organized by our association.

The structure of the fencing lessons is based on the development of the participants. It is especially important for young people that the choice of weapon is geared to age and stage of development.


Regardless of which weapon is used to fence, play is central to all lessons. Being able to run, tap, jump, etc. gives space to the movement needs of children. In addition, we strive to classify children by age group in order to stimulate social cohesion. It also applies that fencing is a sport for three people: two fencers and a referee. The result is that fencers have to (learn to) accept that a referee has sometimes seen the fencers' actions differently than they intended and that they have to (learn to) accept the supposed wrongness of the referees.

Commencing with epee

Children under the age of 12 are often still very playful by nature and want uncomplicated fencing, without tactical assignments. Within the sport of fencing, fencing with epee is the most accessible and simple because fewer rules apply than fencing with foil and sabre. The impact area of the opponent is the largest with epee. That makes hitting the opponent relatively easy. You can only hit with the blunt tip. Tactically, the fencer waits for the opponent to lose his temper and make mistakes. The sword fencer would be wise to be patient. Fencing is a sport for three people: two fencers and a referee. Leading a competition is still relatively easy for children on épée.

Switch to Saber

For most teenagers, somewhere between the ages of 11 and 15, it becomes interesting to switch to a more intensive form of fencing. In saber fencing, offensive play is rewarded. Doubters and watchers will have a hard time and are challenged to learn how to attack. The saber fencing is characterized by the fencing conventions. The attacker can hit as long as the attack is not blocked or stopped. As soon as that is the case, the opponent gets the chance to hit in the after-attack. Saber has a smaller target area than epee (everything above the belt), but hits with the side of the blade are also valid. The movements are potentially greater in saber fencing. That's also why an offensive fencing style pays off. Sensing distance and optimizing timing become essential; things that are still too difficult for many young(er) children.

Fencing on foil

For late adolescents, young adults and adults it can be interesting to act more tactically. The most balanced weapon in terms of offensive or defensive disposition is foil. Like sabre, foil is a convention weapon. Thinking in fencing conventions is mentally complex and therefore more difficult. In addition, the target area with foil is the smallest of all weapons; only hull and throat plane form the target plane. The relatively simple fencing game on epee becomes more active and offensive with saber, but with foil it becomes a tactical game of fine technique, good condition and the practice of timing and patience.


All weapons are discussed in the introduction course Fencing for youth and adults. It starts with two lessons of saber, where in the first lesson only the mask is hit. Goals are then to experience that fencing is/can be emotional and how much the fencer has to focus on the opponent and his actions. In the second lesson, in addition to repeating the final form of the first lesson, the focus is on learning a compound attack (attack in 1-2 or attack with a feint attack). In the third lesson you will be introduced to foil and the fact that as a fencer you are stabbed by the opponent. Compound attacks are practiced further. In the fourth and final lesson, the epee is offered, equivalent to an electric weapon with electric trial. The participants experience a real 'duel'. 

If the participants want to continue fencing after the course, they are welcome to join our association.

For the children, this means that they start with a certain weapon, depending on their age. Which choice is made depends on the arguments described above.

The adults are free to continue with any weapon, but the maître will give advice based on his experiences during the course.

Frans Hoeberechts
Maastricht, 23-01-2023

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