Welcome to the world of official USFA competition
in the Southern California Division. This package is designed
to allow you to navigate through your first tournament without
looking like a total newbie (and, to paraphrase George C. Scott
in "Patton", make someone ELSE look like a total newbie).
USFA tourneys in the SoCal Division are usually
held at Chaminade High School, located at 7500 Chaminade Ave.
in West Hills, either in the main gym, or in the cafeteria (also
known as the Bob Hope Center). There are occasionally tournaments
in other locations in our division, such as Monroe High School
and USC, and of course other divisions run their own tournaments
at places like CSULB - OCD (Cal State Univ. Long Beach - Orange
Coast Division), so be sure to check the schedule carefully.
Fencing starts at various times depending on
the weapon scheduled, but the first event of the day begins at
9:00, after the close of check-in. Check-in for each individual
event opens 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled close for that
event, depending on the anticipated size of the event. It is the
fencer's responsibility to be present and checked in by that time
and to have any necessary safety/weapons checks performed, such
as the mask, body cord and/or lame check. It's usually a good
idea to arrive at the event by the opening of check-in at the
latest so you can check in, stretch and warm up. In addition,
this allows you time to do emergency field repairs if, for example,
the collar on your sabre lame fails the conductivity test and
you have to spend your planned warm-up time feverishly sewing
lame material on the collar so it'll pass, as I can well attest!
Some important things to remember:
1) Membership in the USFA is mandatory. If
you haven't already joined, you can do so at the event. A blank
membership form can be found here.
The fee is $40.00, payable to the USFA. If you have already joined,
you MUST bring proof of your membership and present it to the
bout committee when you sign in for an event. This can be either
your membership card or a receipt from the bout committee if you
joined at an event and your card hasn't arrived yet.
2) Event entry fees are $10.00 per event, payable
to the USFA. (Note: team fees are $36.00 per team, or $12.00 per
person for a 3 person team, $9.00 per person for a 4 person team).
Be advised that some events such as club sponsored fund-raising
events, Pacific Coast Section circuit events, and, of course large
national events run directly under USFA's auspices (such as North
American Cup events) charge higher entry fees. If you plan to
attend any of these larger events, be VERY aware of the application
deadline. North American Cups are very strict; if your application
is not in the hands of the entry clerk by the specified deadline,
you'll pay triple fees just to get in the door...and NACs run
$25 per event in addition to the $30.00 registration fee. IMPORTANT
NOTE: All payments for SoCal Division events MUST be made via
check ONLY, made out to USFA. CASH AND/OR CREDIT CARDS WILL NOT
BE ACCEPTED. Please also note that entry fees and USFA membership
fees must be on separate checks. However, multiple event entry
fees may be on one check (i.e. $20.00 to fence in both an epee
and foil event on the same day). Note: The USFA national office
will accept credit card payments for national event entry fees
3) Effective with the 2000-2001 season, There
will be a $2 cash set-up/tear down fee in addition to the entry
fee. This fee is payable once each competitive day (regardless
of how many events entered) for tear down at the end of the day.
The money will be collected, then around noon the bout committee,
or designee, will ask for volunteers to do tear-down (the number
needed to be determined each day). That number of names will be
drawn by lot from the volunteers. When the tear down/clean up
is complete, they will split the cash!
In order to compete in USFA competitions,
you must have the following:
1) 1 regulation fencing jacket with crotch
strap (for all three weapons. The old-style sabre jacket that
stopped at the waist is no longer allowed)
2) 1 regulation underarm protector
3) 1 fencing glove for your weapon hand (some
people wear an additional glove on their off-hand, just in case
it drifts forward during actual fencing, but this is not required).
The cuff must extend at least halfway up the forearm and be sewn
into the glove. Since the arm is part of the target area in sabre,
those fencers have an additional partial lame glove called a manchette
that fits over the fencing glove up to the bony protuberance of
the wrist. Note for sabre fencers: Even enough the back of the
hand is no longer target, there must still be a piece of material
covering the back of the hand, sewn into the manchette and with
a finger loop to secure it in place. This is to prevent the possibility
of the blade sliding up under the manchette and catching the arm,
much like the cuff on the glove does re the sleeve. After the
rules changed, some companies sold manchettes that did not have
this null back piece. These are no longer legal for fencing in
the USFA, unless a back piece has been sewn on. If in doubt, check
with your local committee.
4) 1 pair WHITE fencing pants. Baseball pants
may be acceptable as long as 1) they pass
the 10cm test, i.e. the bottom of the jacket must overlap the
top of the pants by at least 10cm (about 4") when in the
en garde position (This is generally referred to as the "10
centimeter rule"), and 2) the material is robust enough not
to tear if it catches the point. Many baseball pants are made
with material that will rip easily, and therefore not afford the
protection fencing knickers do. In a pinch, white marching band
pants (the kind that are one piece, going over the shoulder will
do. They're designed for use with short-waisted uniform tops)
can be converted to be used as knickers. My first pair when I
got back into the sport were done that way. Because marching band
uniforms are designed to last 10 season of heavy use, they're
fairly strong. Sweat pants are NOT acceptable (they're too loose
and may catch the point); whatever pants you wear must fit close
enough to the body to prevent your opponent's point from catching
the material. If in doubt, ask the bout committee or officers
in the division prior to the tournament, as they are the final
authority. Shorts are NOT allowed.
5) 1 pair socks. Solid-colored socks are permissible
(witness my infamous purple ones!), but regardless of color, they
must cover the entire shin so no exposed skin is showing. Although
this is probably the least enforced rule anywhere at the local
level, for the sake of your skin, follow it; any padding is better
than none. But please don't wear anything like a neon yellow...burning
out the eyes of your competitors isn't very sporting.
6) 1 pair shoes. Fencing must be done in tennis
or other sport shoes. Street shoes and sandals are not allowed.
7) If you're a man, a cup is optional. If you're
a woman, breast protectors are mandatory. They can be the "hubcap"
kind (the look like metal or plastic yarmulkes that slip into
pockets inside the jacket) or what I like to call the "Joan
of Arc," (and which others call "Barbie Boobs")
which is a plastic breastplate that fits under the jacket and
covers the upper half of the torso.
8) 1 (at least) fencing mask, appropriate for
the weapon (i.e. no electric sabre masks for epee or foil, and
no foil/epee masks for electric sabre). VERY IMPORTANT! The mask
MUST have a sewn-in bib and be able to withstand the 12kg safety
punch test. Masks with snap-in bibs are NOT acceptable. Some masks
sold are designed for beginners during lessons, but are not built
to withstand the rigors of actual competition, let alone the punch
test. If you buy your own mask, make sure it will pass the punch
and bib tests. Be warned: Even if it's fresh from the box and
is rated as an FIE mask (meaning it meets the minimum requirements
to be used at the highest levels, i.e. World Cup events), it can
still fail the punch test before it's ever used in competition
(I've seen it happen). On the other hand, I've seen some masks
that have clearly seen better days pass with flying colors.
9) 1 (at least) foil lame (or sabre if that's
what you're fencing. There is no lame for epee), and manchette
(for sabre). Be sure you don't bring one with a lot of dead spots
(see above comment re checking in early).
10) 2 (at least) working body cords (at least
2 mask cords as well, for sabre). A note on body cords. The bayonet
type cords do not have a retaining clip to hold the cord in place;
the cord has a small round flange that twists into the socket
to secure the cord. Two-prong cords have either a built-in spring-loaded
retaining clip (Uhlmann/Allstar type) or a separate plastic clip
attached to the socket (Prieur type). These retaining clips must
be present when you hook up. The Uhlmann/Allstar-type can sometimes
be used with a Prieur-type socket because the spring-loaded clip
hooks over the socket. The Prieur type clip is attached to the
socket and goes over the head of the body cord. These clips have
a habit of coming off the weapon, and you cannot use one of them
on a Uhlmann/Allstar type socket because the designs are a little
different and the retaining clip won't fit on the socket. If you
use the Prieur type, make sure you have extra retaining clips.
The lack of a retaining clip is a penalty.
Epee cords must also be secured, and have much
the same differances, except that the Uhlmann/Allstar epee sockets
have a clip built into the socket. The Prieur types are the same
type design as their foil sockets.
11) 2 (at least) working weapons. Remember:
It is YOUR responsibility that the weapons and cords be in working
order when you arrive at the strip, so check them out before the
competition. Be further warned: weapons and cords have a habit
of failing at the worst time, i.e. when you're on a scoring binge
in D.E. Really throws the momentum off if you have to change a
cord several times, not to mention the penalty points you can
Long hair must be tucked under the mask or
into the lame/jacket, as it cannot cover the lame in sabre and
I will assume you've had some experience with the electric gear
at the salle, but there are some procedures - such as the weight
test - that we don't normally do at SwordPlay and you need to
be aware of them so you don't get unnecessary penalty cards due
to lack of knowledge.
The usual format you'll see at local competition
is "pools then DE." Here's how it works:
Assume there are 28 fencers in the field (doesn't
matter what weapon, the format's the same). There will be 4 pool
of 7 fencers each. You will fence everyone in your pool once in
5-touch bouts. You will not be fencing people in the other pools
during the pool round. For purposes of this example, assume it's
a really small turnout -- 7 people total, all in one pool.
Here's the way the pool sheet looks at the
end of the pool round:
Since Sulu fenced on TV (Classic "Trek",
episode "The Naked Time" for those interested), he kicked
some serious butt and beat everyone in the pool and had 6 victories.
Lt. Worf had 4 victories and is in 2nd place. Seven of Nine, Capt.
Kirk and YOU all had 3 victories, which makes the indicators ((Ind)
the difference between touches scored (TS) and received (TR))
the determining factor for placement. Seven of Nine scored 26
touches and was scored on 22 times. Her indicator is +4. YOU recorded
23 touches and received the same, so your indicator is 0. Capt.
Kirk scored 19 times, but was hit 22 times, thus making his indicator
a -3. The higher indicator is the higher placement, so Seven of
Nine is in 3rd place, YOU 4th and Capt. Kirk 5th. If indicators
had been tied, whoever scored more would get the higher placement.
(If there is an absolute tie in indicators, touches scored and
touches received, the bout committee flips a coin) Going on, Cmdr.
Spock is starting Pon-Farr and is not paying attention, so he
only gets two wins and tales 6th place. Finally - as befits someone
in Starfleet Security - Ens. Expendable gets killed and takes
7th place with no wins at all.
Now the tournament can go several ways. 1)
It could be by pools, which means the pool results are the finals
results for the tournament, if it's only one pool of fencers.
2) The pool results could be used to calculate a Direct Elimination
table with everyone going to DE, or 3) (and the usual format for
larger tournaments) the pool results are used to calculate a DE
table with only the top 80% of the overall field going to DE.
(80% of 7 is 5.6. Since the percentages are rounded up, 6 of the
pool go to DE and Ens. Expendable would be through for the day).
For this example, everyone goes to DE.
Here's what the DE chart looks like after the
pool round. Table A is the first one posted and shows the seedings
and pairings going into DE. The rest of the chart shows the end
results of the tournament.
As you can see, every touch counts; one touch can make the difference
between a relatively easy DE path and the path of doom. Do not
give away touches, not even to make someone else feel good if
they haven't scored all day. It will hurt your seedings in the
Direct Elimination bout are 15 exhausting touches.
Win and you keep going. Lose and you go home (unless you're in
the round of 4, in which case you might be fencing for third place)
Pool bouts are one 4 minute long period. DE
bouts are 3 periods of 3 minutes each, with a one minute break
in between. Time is only counted when fencing is occurring. After
the director calls "halt," time stops running and does
not begin again until the director calls "fence." The
one minute break between DE periods, however, is real-time.
Team competitions are fun, but the format is
slightly different. Each team consists of three members (sometimes
including a 4th as an alternate). Teams fence each other in a
three part relay for a total of 9 bouts, so each team member fences
each member of the opposing team...somewhat like individual pool
bouts. The period lengths are the same...it's the scoring that's
different. Team matches end with the first team to score 45 touches.
Here's an example:
The NorCal Foil Bunnies are fencing the War
Dogs (don't laugh...I've seen teams with BOTH of those names).
After the 1st bout the Foil Bunnies are ahead 5-3. The next bout
(and all successive bouts) end when the next higher multiplier
of 5 is reached. In this case, the Foil Bunnies only need to score
5 touches to win the next bout (raising their score to 10), but
the War Dogs must score 7. Coming from way behind happens often.
In my first sectional tournament, I scored 11 times to my last
opponent's 3 to even the score at 40. My teammate, Freewind, who
was in the anchor slot, finished it off and we won the match.
Most team competitions are a straight DE format.
Every so often there are pools, but it's only happened once to
me. There are several different formats for the bout committee
to choose from.
In team play, as in individual, it's always
important to remember the words of Yogi Berra...it ain't over
'til it's over!
Equipment checks vary from event to event.
Some events only check the mask (which, to my mind, is by far
the most important one), while larger sectional or national events
check the mask, body cords, lames, and even the weapons themselves.
90% of the time in local competition, it's just the mask.
The mask is tested by way of a spring loaded
punch. The probe's diameter is slightly larger that the width
of the mask mesh. It is placed perpendicular to the mask surface
and depressed all the way down. If the probe does not punch through
the mask, it passes. If the probe punches through the mask anywhere
-- it doesn't matter if it's on the backside behind your ear --
it fails and cannot be used again in competition because the failure
indicates the mesh is starting to get weak. In many cases, the
mask is destroyed right then and there. If you think this is overly
severe, ask any fencer who's been around awhile about what happened
to a Russian World and 1980 Olympic champion named Vladimir Smirnov
in 1982...you'll appreciate the mask test then. The Reader's Digest
version: during the World Championships, his opponent's broken
blade punched through the mask and thorugh his eye. He died 9
days later. Rather quickly thereafter, stronger equipment was
mandated...the mask had to withstand 12kg of pressure instead
of the 7kg mandatory at the time, and the way was paved for the
inclusions of Kevlar and other ballistic fabrics in the uniforms
and maraging steel in blades.
It should be noted that this type of accident
is extremely rare. Bruises, other soft tissue
injuries and the occasional repetitive stress-type injury are
more the norm.
It sounds like such a simple thing...hook up
to the strip. But there are a few things you do need to know.
1) Fencers are called to the strip in a particular
order, depending on how many are in the pool. For each bout, the
first called fencer hooks up to the director's right, unless that
fencer is a left-hander, in which case he'll hook up to the director's
left. If it's two lefties, it won't matter; 1st called to the
director's right. The reason for this is so the director can see
the chest area of the competitors...the most likely area for touches
to arrive. it also allows the director to more easily see covering
actions or grabbing of the blade.
2) The alligator clip on your body cord (for
foil/sabre) must be attached to your lame at the back on the weapon
side. This is to ensure it cannot be removed by the non-weapon
hand during the bout (thus interrupting the circuit and rendering
any touch landed by your opponent an off target). Most people
clip it right next to the center line on the back. There is no
such clip for epee.
3) The floor reels can run as high as $500.00
per unit. Under NO circumstances should you let the plug go if
you're more than a foot or two away from the reel. The force of
the plug slamming into the reel housing after being retracted
at high speed for 30 feet can seriously damage the reel...and
I guarantee that EVERY experienced fencer will look directly at
you if you do this, even accidentally. Some divisions have in-house
rules about this that allow for penalty cards -- or even monitary
penalties -- if such an action is deemed deliberate. ALWAYS either
hand the plug to the next fencer or walk it all the way back to
4) The clip on the plug that goes over your
body cord is there to keep the reel cable from coming apart from
your body cord and slamming back into the reel housing. Make sure
you use it, if it's there and will stay on in the first place.
5) In sabre there is an additional cord that goes from a tab on
the back of the lame to the mask to allow the box to register
hits to the head area. There is no specific place on the mask
to clip it to, but most people clip it to the mask frame near
their ear on the off-weapon side, to the lame near the cheek on
the same side, or to the frame right above the top of the head.
This cable has a habit of coming off during the action, so check
to make sure it's there after particularly energetic exchanges.
After you have hooked up to the scoring reels,
you will present your weapon to the director for the weight and/or
shim test (this applies only to foil and epee; there is no weight
test for sabre). A weight will be placed over the tip while it
is held vertically (500 grams for foil, 750 grams for epee). The
spring in the tip must lift the appropriate weight. This is indicated
by the scoring box. When the weight is placed on the weapon, the
appropriate side of the scoring box will light up. If the light
goes off and stays off, the weapon passes. If it stays on, the
weapon fails and may not be used for that bout unless it has been
repaired in the meantime. This also gets you a yellow penalty
card (which will be discussed later). This is why you have to
bring at least 2 working weapons to the strip. In foil, once the
weight test is done for both sides, you can touch each other's
lames to make sure touches will register and then get ready to
do combat. In epee there is an additional two part shim test.
There must be at least 1.5 mm between the bottom of the point
and the top of the barrel, and at least .5 mm distance of travel
in the point before the light goes off. The space shim is simply
placed in the tip. If it can be inserted, it's good. The travel
shim is likewise inserted into the tip, then the point itself
is depressed. If the light goes on, it fails. If the light stays
off, you're good to go. After then, the director will look to
ensure the point has both screws in place and that a retaining
clip is on the body cord socket in the guard. Missing screws or
retaining clip is a yellow card offense.
There is no lame test in epee. Instead, each
fencer in turn will touch his tip to his opponent's bell guard
and push to depress his point. If the light stays off, the circuit
is properly grounded and no hits on the guard will register. If
a light goes on, something's wrong, usually either the guard's
not properly grounded or there's some rust on the guard, which
would insulate the ground. In higher level competitions (like
North American Cups) the strips are covered by a copper mesh strip,
which also grounds out any floor hits in foil and epee.
In sabre you can test by simple touching your
opponent's lame or mask with your blade; no pressure is necessary.
Most people touch the mask.
After you have hooked up, been tested by the
director and tested lames/bell guards, you'll return to your on
guard line, salute your opponent and the director (and in some
cases, the audience), put your mask on, come on guard and wait
for the command to fence. Stay still when the director asks if
you're ready; they hate a bouncy fencer and will get testy if
they have to wait for you to settle down.
Safety note: Learn to put your mask on with
your non-weapon hand. People who use both hands to put on the
mask tend to send their points flying all over the place, usually
towards someone's face. Use your unarmed hand and keep the weapon
point down toward the ground. It's easy...just put your chin in
first and pul the mask back over your face. it has the added advantage
of pulling long hair back away from your face...if, unlike myself,
you HAVE hair!
VERY IMPORTANT: When the director ask if you
are ready - by asking "Fencers ready?" (Or some variation
thereof) "Etes-vous prets?" ("Are you ready"
in French) or in some other fashion, you MUST respond verbally
if you are not ready to go, and loudly enough so the director
can hear you over the other noises in the area. If you say nothing,
that is deemed as an affirmative response and the director may
start the fencing before you're actually ready. If you get scored
on in that situation, it's your own fault for not letting the
When the director is satisfied that everyone's
ready to go (it may only be a second long of a wait), the command
to fence will be given by the director saying "Fence,"
"Begin," "Allez," ("Begin" in French)
or some variation thereof. Once fencing begins, don't stop until
you hear your director call the halt. Even if you KNOW you hit
your opponent, that doesn't mean the light went off, and it's
a sure way to get hit yourself. If you need to, you can remove
your mask to wipe sweat out of your eyes, scratch your nose, etc.
only AFTER the director has halted the action.
At SwordPlay - and at most informal encounters
between friends - there's a lot of talking, jibing and "smack
talk" `between the fencers as they go at each other. You
can't do that in official competition. Nor can you crook a finger
in a "bring it on" gesture. This is defined as taunting,
and it's a cardable offense.
If you see a potentially dangerous situation
- i.e. a weapon with a very sharp bend beyond a normal curve,
an untied shoelace, a broken blade, some doofus walking across
the strip right behind your opponent, etc. -- you cannot just
stop fencing and call halt yourself. Back up a few steps, raise
your non-weapon hand and stomp you foot a bit to get the director's
attention. He'll stop the bout and you can have the problem taken
This is a goodie. The penalty chart is here. It's at the bottom
of the page. Most of the infractions are self-explanatory. A yellow
card stays with you for the entire bout, so if you have yellow
card because a weapon failed the weight test, it stays with you
until the bout is over. Earning a second yellow card for any reason,
such as turning your back, equals a red card, with is a point
against you. It is entirely possible to lose a bout on penalties.
Some examples of card offenses are: turning
your back, covering target, touching your weapon or body cord
with your non-weapon hand after the command to fence, throwing/swinging
your equipment or otherwise displaying anger that might get someone
hurt, unhooking and/or stepping off the strip without asking the
director first; stepping off the strip with one foot during fencing
(except during a fleche), fleche or crossing of the feet during
a forward motion (in sabre only), etc.
Going off the side of the strip with one foot
is a warning, and will stop the fencing. Going off the very end
with both feet is an automatic red card. Being off with both feet
is defined as both feet crossing the vertical plane of the end
of the strip, so if you're doing epee and you've got one foot
off the end, your opponent goes for your front foot and you pull
it out of the way, it's gonna be a red card if that foot crosses
the plane of the end of the strip.
If you need to leave the venue for a bathroom
break, make sure the director knows about it. If you get called
to the strip several times and aren't present, you'll lose the
bout. Most directors will let this slide if they know you're in
On the other hand, if, before you get knocked
out of the tournament, you leave the venue to go home, back to
work, or just because you're pissed off at something, you MUST
advise the bout committe that you're leaving and why. Failure
to do so can result in the dreaded black card, which may affect
you at future competitions. The black card's a nasty one. Avoid
it at all costs. There are several ramifications to earning a
black card. 1) It gets reported to the National office. A fencer
can be banned for a time if deemed necessary. 2) It doesn't matter
if you've just taken 2nd place, earned your "A" rating,
and qualify to compete at the National Championships...get a black
card and you don't get jack. No medal, no rating, no qualifying
status. All you'll get are the words "Fencer Excluded"
where your name should be on the results sheet.
Turning your back is self-explanatory. It's
a safety issue, since you don't want the back of your head exposed.
Covering target is a bit more complicated but it boils down to
this: if your non-weapon arm is covering your lame in foil in
any way during an exchange of action, it's a penalty. Don't do
it; keep that arm back and out of the way. Covering can be as
seemingly minor as having the non-weapon arm running straight
down your side if it's not away from the body; it's still covering
target if it touches your side.
Only the fencers have the right to address
the director in reference to an action, although most directors
at the local level will answer a question from a coach. If you
need to ask a question, especially if you think you did a parry-riposte
and the director says your opponent did a beat-attack, don't yell
at the director; be polite about it. My general rule of thumb
is to ask once and let it go if it doesn't go my way. For example:
Me - "That wasn't a parry-riposte, Sir?" Director -
"No. Your opponent landed mal parre, then your riposte landed."
After that, I let it go because arguing never changes the call.
Keep in mind, if you're relatively inexperienced, that the director
and fencer will see different things on the same action. Also,
in many cases the directors have been directing far longer than
you've been fencing, so they know what they're talking about.
For good or ill, that person is the director, and he or she is
the boss. If you don't like a call, shake it off and get back
Also keep in mind this: if the director states
the action as "The attack is from my right, parry riposte
from my left," it cannot be argued because the director's
saying he saw a specific action. If the director says, however,
The attack is from my right, and I think it was a parry riposte
from my left," you have the right to argue it if you think
it was yours, because he wasn't sure. Don't do it too often.
Now we get to the fun subject of time management
in a bout. If you're ahead even by one touch in a bout - pool
or DE - and time runs out, you win, period. The director will
not offer time remaining in the period or score unless one of
the fencers asks.
Knowing the score is good, but knowing the
time remaining is better. There is NO RULE against sandbagging
it if you're ahead. You can get ahead by one point and stall all
day if you want to. Not that many fencers will let you pull it
off, but I've seen it happen.
By the same token, if you're behind by one
point in the 1st or 2nd period of DE and there are two seconds
left in the period, don't fleche on the command to fence; any
experienced opponent will expect it and you'll probably find yourself
two points down instead of one. Run the time out. It's safer that
If you feel your opponent is covering target
or his lame is not working (you nail him right in the center of
the chest and the off-target light comes on), ask the director
if you could have a hand or lame judge. He'll pick two people
who will each watch one fencer for covering or off-target hits
on the lame. In epee you may request a foot judge if your opponent
likes to go for your foot and you're not fencing on a grounded
If you keep hitting your opponent and the light
just ain't going off, you are either not hitting with sufficient
pressure to trigger the light (remember the weight test), are
hitting plaque' (flat) and not depressing the tip, are hitting
later that 40 milliseconds after your opponent hits you (in epee),
or the tip has gone bad.
You may ask the director if you can test the
tip by touching your opponent - like during the original lame
test - or you may present the blade to the director for him to
test. Be advised: if you think the tip itself has gone bad, you
MUST ask the director to test it for you. If it turns out the
tip's bad, you may get a break, because it may invalidate any
touch you received in the action where your tip failed. Testing
it yourself is not a valid test as far as the refs are concerned.
Even though there's no tip test in sabre, there
is a nagging problem that may cost points. Most scoring boxes
for sabre are set to they can tell the difference between a direct
hit and a whip-over (where contact between the blades is made,
but the attacking blade bends around the parry and still hits
the target). In some cases, the direct hit spends such a short
amount of time in contact with the conductive surface, the box
thinks it's a whip-over and the hit does not register. It's happed
to me and my opponents many times, usually to my benefit, since
my counter-attacks usually register (that's how slow I am). Even
if you hear and feel the contact, if the director says nothing,
do not stop fencing. The rule is, in all three weapons, if the
box doesn't light up, there IS no hit.
If you are injured on the strip (ankle pops,
hit in the crotch, or otherwise actually hurt) you can ask for
an injury time out of 10 minutes. If you're going to do it, though
make sure you're actually hurt or can fake it real well. Asking
for an injury time out because you're tired will get you a penalty
card, not a rest! Don't try and fake it too often, though; the
experienced directors will spot a fake a mile away.
One thing that fencers are always concerned
about is the potential for new ratings to be passed out at a tournament.
Not all tournaments pass out ratings; the Tishman Prep Foil is
a restricted event, so there are no ratings. In most open competitions,
however, the ratings awarded depend on how many fencers are in
the overall field, the number of rated fencers in the overall
field, and the number of specific ratings of fencers in the top
8 or 12 (depending on how large the event it). Click here
for the classification chart. Note that the SoCal Division ties
for third place in all events except for qualifying tournaments
for large sectional or national events, and some club sponsored
events also fence off for third. If a tie for third is passed
out, everyone who tied for third gets whatever rating third place
It doesn't matter how good you are in your
own salle...you might be undefeated in two years of in-house competitions
against a club full of people, but it means nothing when you hit
the strip against people you've never faced before. There's always
someone better, so don't fall into the "Karate Kid Syndrome."
Beginning fencers do NOT romp through a field of experienced competitors
and win events. A bout or two maybe; everyone gets lucky now and
again. But don't get bummed out if you get hammered by an "A"
rated fencer, or even an unrated one with competitive USFA experience.
It happens to everyone, and it's part of the learning experience.
Lastly, included here is a list of things to
remember when fencing I've come up with over the last couple of
years. Keep 'em in mind.
Good luck & see ya on the piste!
21. Respect your opponent's skills...even if
you don't particularly like him.
20. When arguing a call with the director, be polite and respectful;
don't be an ass about it.
19. If a particular trick doesn't work the first couple of times,
f'Pete's sake, try something different!
18. There's nothing wrong with beating your opponent 5-0 in the
17. In epee, check your tip screws after each bout.
16. In foil, ensure your tip is still there after each halt of
15. Don't be nasty to the people in your pool...you'll most likely
have one of them in the DE round.
14. If things aren't going your way, don't get so upset that you
lose your self-control & discipline; pissed off people make
13. Show support for your salle mates when they're fencing and
you're not. Just one "Go get 'im!" can make all the
difference in the world.
12. Just as there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole,
there are no friends on the piste.
11. Don't stop until the director calls "halt!"
10. Don't cheat or accuse others of doing so just so you can get
another point, particularly when you're far ahead or vastly superior
in skill to your opponent. You demean yourself and the sport when
you do so.
9. Retreat, don't just run away...there's a difference.
8. Finish the attack!
7. You may be big, tall and strong, but remember that power means
nothing without control.
6. Be gracious when you lose...more importantly, be gracious when
5. Don't look at the %$#@& box!!
4. Don't let yourself get psyched out by a higher rated opponent...you
never know when you're going to be hot.
3. Have fun...not many people can stab a total stranger with a
long knife and get rewarded for it!
2. Never give up - even if you're down 14-0.
1. Never underestimate ANYONE!!