Kind of sport
Fencing is a friendly duel with stabbing, hacking and hitting weapons. Points are scored by touching the opponent in special target areas, while at the same time warding off counterattacks. The men fence with the floret, the epee and sabre. The women only fence with the floret. The floret has a flexible blade which is rectangular or square in its cross-section. A floret is at most 1.10 metres long, weighs 500 grams and has a blunt tip. The target area ranges from the femur joint to the upper edge of the collar of the vest. Hits can be scored on the back as well. The arms are off-limits.
The epee has an inflexible, triangular blade, a curved guard and weighs, as the heaviest fencing weapon, no more than 770 grams. With this weapon, the entire body is the target area.
The sabre has an almost square blade and is flexible. The guard is rounded. The sporting sabre is 1.05 metres long and weighs 500 grams. The target area is the upper body, including the head and arms.
The men always fence for five hits and the women with the floret for four.
The fencer's outfit has to guarantee as much protection and optimal freedom of movement as possible. The face mask is essential. With epee fencing, the men wear both a waistcoat and a singlet. The hits are indicated electronically. The protective vest is interwoven with silver thread. The blade is equipped with a contact point, triggering an electronic signal with each legitimate hit. The fencers are connected to a roll, which is automatically releasing or retracting the necessary cable length.
The fencers are divided into pools. The winner of each pool advances to the next round. Eventually sixteen fencers remain and from that group the last eight will fight for the top places.
At the Olympic Games in 1996, all three weapons for the men and the floret and the epee for the women are both represented at the individual level and at the group level.