Fencing  Explained

Fencing was first recorded as a sport during the Egyptian and Roman periods using cane as a weapon. It then progressed through the ages predominantly as a form of defence or as a way of challenging somebody who had wronged you.

Over the generations the swords altered to become stronger, lighter and more deadly.

The sport as we know it today dates back to around 1896 when it was entered into the first modern Olympics in the form of Sabre and Foil. Eppe wasn't added until the 1900 Olympics. Fencing is one of only two sports still present from the first modern Olympics.

Sabre uses a slashing motion and the hit is generally recorded using the edge of the sword against the torso and arms.

Eppe is a heavier sword and the electric tip is used to score a point against the whole body and head.

Foil is a lighter sword which also uses the electric tip of the sword to score a point against the torso of the body.

Phoebe fences using a Foil

Fencing has been described as a game of chess on legs, it uses skills and strategy to attack your opponent or draw your opponent into making a mistake or opening up a weakness to your advantage. Aggression is commonly used to intimidate your opponent before they can respond and speed is a strength used by some to score before the opponent can react. Phoebe is one of the fastest foilists and combined with her skills this makes her hard to beat.

A fencing bout takes place in a designated area 14 metres long and between 1.5 and 2 metres wide known as a piste. Scores are indicated and recorded on electronic boxes which are connected directly or wirelessly to the fencer. A fencing competition comprises of a round of poules where fencers are grouped and each group member fences each other to five points , the scores are then added and the losses subtracted to produce an overall ranking which is then used to  create a direct elimination contest which fences off until there is only one winner. 

The direct elimination fight is fenced over three bouts each lasting three minutes with a one minute rest between. The fight lasts until a fencer reaches fifteen points. If the score is even after the three bouts a priority decision is made randomly and if no point is scored within a further one minute then the person with priority wins.  

A large competition will usually last all day, Phoebe will have fenced many matches by the end of the day and is often totally exhausted.

Although the basics described above are a general explanation, point scoring is complex, with the referee only allowing some points. When both fencers hit at the same time as shown by the electronic scoreboard the referee awards the point to the person who is thought to be attacking first or whose sword is in line with the target area first. This is called having priority and can at times be contentious as it requires close observation of the fight by the referee who interprets the intentions of the fencers.

Although fencing is a complicated sport Phoebe thrives on the excitement when competing and training, she has also developed many friendships with fencers and referees from across the world, the friendships are put aside when they meet on the piste.

We have added some videos of Phoebe fencing to give you an idea of how it works.

Team fencing involves a team of four fencers with one being allowed to substitute during the match, each fencer fences to five points or for three minutes, fencing all of the other opponents in rotation. The winning team is the first to reach 45 points or the highest score at the end of all nine rounds.

The fight is constructed in such a way that a team which is behind in the match can catch up the score at any point by scoring more than five points in a bout, this is where strategy comes into play by using your strongest fencer against the opponents weakest player at just the right moment this usually makes the match more exciting.

Phoebe fences for the Great Britain team as well as individually.