The Alternative Fencing Glossary

To ensure you feel at home with all the new terms you will learn when you start fencing, we asked a couple of our beginners to demonstrate their newly found knowledge by compiling a Glossary of fencing terms.

Whilst this is based on experience, advice and tales from many great, and not so great (but equally mad) fencers, offence should not be taken for any parts you don't like. Any parts you do like should not be used offensively either!!! We begin with the weapons, which also should not be used offensively!


Referred to by the general fencing-ignorant public as a sword, the foil was originally the practice weapon. In modern days, foil has become a basic and competitive weapon; as well as a valuable aid in oven-based cooking.


Referred to by the general fencing-ignorant public as a sword, the epee can be seen on "Die Another Day", along with the delectable Pierce Brosnan. (See also One Hit Wonder.)


Big pirate sword. Most impressive looking of the three weapons, and also referred to by the general fencing-ignorant public as a sword! Sometimes accompanied by a bandana, and on rare occasions an eye patch, though this has yet to be seen in the Olympics.


One who wields a foil (see Perfectionist, or Fussy Prat). These fencers prefer the finer points of fencing, choosing the light foil over the more cumbersome swords.


Fencer preferring a slower pace of life than foilists, and who likes to stab people all over the place, even the toes! (Resulting in fencers hopping about in a fashion resembling a sun dance.) Epeeists do however tend to have a more humane approach and less violent streak than sabreurs (see below).


Captain Hook Wannabe. Mentally insane and violent individual who enjoys hitting, and being hit, on the head. Think pirates - scary!

Absence of Blade

This occurs most commonly after a taking of the blade and is most commonly experienced by competitive fencers. Absence of blade tends to be seen at the end of the day when packing up weapons & kit, post bouts. This may be accidental, but likely some thieving gypsy just stole it! Absence of body wire may also occur at the same time, though the two events can be mutually exclusive.

Change of engagement

Inter-club fiancé swapping. No present examples available.

False attack

Smart ass opponent trying to trick you. You can either, a) let them, b) trick them back, or c) throw a tantrum and storm off the piste (remember to disconnect your body wire as you do so otherwise the dramatic effect is kinda lost!)

Fencing Measure

Expanding alcoholic unit consumed by a fencer post-activity. Level of alcohol in the measure is directly proportional to the length of fencing time endured, i.e. all day competition=very large vodka!

Fencing Time

Length of time taken to consume a fencing measure (see above). Inversely proportional to length of fencing activity endured, i.e. all day competition = throwing it back!


One who wields a fencing weapon. Primarily a foilist.

Fussy Prat


One Hit Wonder

Used to describe the fencer's ability to score successfully with epee despite any skill. (See also epeeist)


See also Foilist.

Period of Fencing Time

Total time over which all individual fencing times and measures are accumulated. Or more simply put, how long before you're Brahms and Liszt and can't handle any more!


14 x 2m area in which fencers fight in competitions. Not to be confused with "pis*ed" - physical condition brought on by excessive periods of fencing time / fencing measures

Prise de fer

Malibu, vodka, white rum, archers, cranberry & fresh orange.


Foil, Epee, or Sabre for the general public or fencing beginner.

Taking of the blade

Weapon pilfering! Most commonly occurring at competitive events, taking of the blade simultaneously results in a victim experiencing absence of blade (see above). Current preventative measures include blade identification of some form, normally painted (allow plenty of time to dry before using!) although some sabres may be stained with blood instead.


Sabreur. These fencers are often seen around town beating up helpless old ladies. Wearing leather.