A light, flexible
weapon with which only thrusts with the point of the weapon to
the opponent's trunk of body count as valid hits.
on the abdomen, chest and back but not on the the arms, legs and
scored by the fencer who hits the target area and has "right of
of the Foil
weapon for the small-sword, evolved in the late seventeenth century,
when cutting became an obsolete action, and accordingly, a flat
blade was no longer required for training. The word is derived
from the French refouler, to turn back, and had long been in use
in England to describe any rebated weapon, including lances and
the like. Foils in this country were simply blunted weapons.
French foil was known as the fleuret, from a fancied resemblance
between its leather button and flower bud. The foil of that period
was appreciably shorter than its modern counterpart. Liancour,
the famous French master, advocated the use of several different
types of foil in the salle, including a heavy, guardless weapon
for the pupil which was also shorter than that of the master,
whose own weapon, for the purpose of avoiding excessive fatigue,
was lighter than usual. Within the last decade or so, one prominent
London fencing master was known to make his pupils take their
lessons with a monstrosity of his own devising, two blades somehow
fitted into a single hilt, which occasioned the muscles of the
sword-arm the most exquisite agony, the idea probably being that
if they could manipulate a weapon of this weight, they could manipulate
of guards have found favor at different times. "Figure-of-eight"
guards and narrow, slightly convex, rectangular guards have found
favour and given place in turn to the contemporary saucer-shaped
guard, a smaller edition of the epee cup guard.
The foil has
been the dominant factor in the development of modern fencing.
Even sabre fencing, though involving the cut, and so introducing
an entirely different factor, is limited by the conventions governing
the right to attack, riposte, counter-attack, and so forth, identical
to those at foil. The sabre target is also limited. This is, of
course, not so at epee, but the fact remains that the terminology
and basic concept of sword-play are akin to the foil, although
naturally, the tactics and application of the basic system must
be greatly modified at this weapon. For long the epee was regarded
as the duelling weapon as such, while the sabre before 1939, was
regarded as a specialty of the Hungarians and not practiced very
widely in England outside the Services. Thirty or forty years
ago, the fencing masters were still reluctant to give sabre or
epee lessons except to those about to participate in matches or
competitions, of which there were then vastly fewer. For them,
the foil reigned supreme - precise, formal and elegant.