So, I was fencing last night and realized, hey, I haven't actually explained the rules of fencing on my blog. So since life is fairly boring at the moment, I decided to explain this most wondrous of sports for my most marvelous readers!
Fencing, as it is known today, is divided into three weapons: Foil, epee, and saber. Each weapon has its own set of rules and forms, but the basics always include en garde position, with knees bent, back straight, and sword out; the parry, or blocking your opponent's sword; the lunge, your distance attack; and the basic advance, where you lead with either your right or left foot (depending on which hand you use), and the back foot always follows.
As far as the three separate weapons:
Foil: MY FAVORITE!!!! Though Jake hates it... in any case, historically foil was the training weapon, light and flexible. The target area (what you're trying to hit) includes the torso. Not the arms, or head, just the chest and stomach area. Foil's purpose was to teach to kill, so naturally you want to go for the area with the most vital organs. Foil also has the most complex rule system. If both lights go off, meaning both opponents hit (we're hooked up to sensors electronically), a fencer has to have right of way in order to get the point. One gets right of way (in a very basic way) by either moving first, forcing your opponent to back up, or taking control of your opponent's sword (meaning you make the blade move). If you hit off-target (anywhere other than the vest that marks target area), the bout is halted and you start again where the off-target was hit (I think this is mostly because for a moment the light "locks the box," so if your opponent hits you, it doesn't register). Foilists are the thinkers, the plotters, those who manipulate the rules to fit their needs.
Epee: Epee is my next favorite weapon, because it is very similar to foil in style. The biggest difference is that in epee, the entire body is the target area. You can get some pretty sweet toe shots with epee. ;) The epee is also a bit longer and heavier than the foil, with a bigger hand guard (since the hand is now target area), and epee rules are much simpler: if the light goes off, you get the point. None of this complicated "who was moving forward and who took the blade" nonsense (I think epee rules are much better than foil rules). Both foil and epee are stabbing weapons: you can't get a point unless you hit with the tip. Epee fencers are more instinctual than foilists, at least from what I can tell. As I'm a foilist, my opinions are a little bit biased. ;)
Saber: I hate saber, mostly because the style is so different from foil and epee that it really messes my foil up. Saber has its origins in horseback fighting, so the target area is anything from the waist up (it doesn't really do any good to hit your opponent's leg when he's sitting on a horse anyway). The sword is more triangular in shape, with a large guard rather like the ones you see in movies, and is held straight up in the air (rather than held out towards the opponent, like the other two). This is because in saber, you hit with the side of the sword rather than the tip. I mean, you can hit with the tip, but it's easier to just slash away. Saber fencers are by far the most aggressive, and while their rules are similar to foil, they prefer to let the referees deal with said rules and just focus on beating their opponent.
So, there you are, the basic rules for fencing! Hope it was informative and/or enjoyable!
Fare thee well, friend!