|Competitions held||211 (Venues)|
|IF||Fédération internationale d’escrime|
Fencing began as a way to learn techniques for using swords in combat and is known to have been practiced well before the birth of Christ. The earliest depiction of a fencing bout has been found in the temple of Medinet‐Habu in Luxor, Egypt, and dates back to around 1190 BCE. It shows wrestling and fencing being contested at a celebration of an Egyptian military victory. As a sport, fencing began in either the 14th or 15th century and both Italy and Germany lay claims to the origins of the sport. In 1570, Henri Saint-Didier of France gave names to fencing’s major movements and most of that nomenclature remains.
Until the 17th century the fencing weapons were large and unwieldy like the combat weapons. However, the dueling sword evolved into the épée and the cutlass into the sabre. The foil was originally a practice weapon for combat and became popular as a sporting event in the late 19th century.
The foil is a light, quadrangular tapering blade in which only hits made with the blade point on the opponent’s torso count. The épée, developed from the dueling weapons of European noblemen, is the same length as the foil, but is heavier and has a triangular blade and a larger handguard. Hits must also be made with the tip of the blade but can be scored over the opponent’s entire body. The sabre has a flat, rectangular blade and owes its origins to the 18th century cavalry sabre. Hits may be scored with the tip of the blade, with its front edge, or with the last one-third of its back edge. The target area is from the bend of the hips up, including the head and arms.
Fencing was first contested at the 1896 Olympics and is one of the few sports to have been contested at every modern Olympic Games. At the 1896 and 1900 Olympic Games, it was the only sport at which professionals, specifically fencing masters, or teachers, were allowed to compete. Women’s fencing first appeared in the Olympics in 1924. Today, men compete in the Olympics with three types of swords – the foil, the épée, and the sabre – in both team and individual events, thus six events in all. Women competed only in foil at the Olympics, until 1996, when women’s épée was added, and women’s sabre was added in 2000. Electronic scoring has been used at the Olympics for epee since 1936, for foil since 1956, and for sabre since 1992.
Fencing is governed worldwide by the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE), which was formed on 29 November 1913 in Paris, with eight founding members: Belgium, Bohemia, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway. As of 2020 FIE has 157 member nations affiliated. Fencing has been dominated at the Olympics by France and Italy in the foil and épée, and Hungary in the sabre. Italian Edoardo Mangiarotti has won the most Olympic fencing medals with 13. He also won 6 golds. Aladár Gerevich (HUN) has won 10 medals, with a 7 seven golds, while Valentina Vezzali won 9 medals with 6 golds.
Presidents of the Fédération internationale d’escrime:
|People's Republic of China||CHN||4||7||3||14|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||4||2||5||11|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||2||2||2||6|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||1||0||2||3|
|Hong Kong, China||HKG||0||2||0||2|
|Georges, Baron Dillon-Kavanagh||FRA||2||1||0||3|
|Gabriel, Count de la Falaise||FRA||2||0||0||2|
|Jakob Erckrath de Bary||GER||1||0||0||1|
|Davide Di Veroli||ITA||2||0||0||2|
|Name||Gender||Still contested?||Times held?|
|Mixed Weapon, Team||Mixed Youth||3|
|Foil, Masters, Individual||Men||2|
|Épée, Masters, Individual||Men||2|
|Épée, Masters and Amateurs, Individual||Men||1|
|Sabre, Masters, Individual||Men||2|
|Sabre, Individual, Three Hits||Men||1|
|Single Sticks, Individual||Men||1|