Foil Target Area

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,Hits count on the abdomen, chest and back but not on the the arms, legs and head.Points are scored by the fencer who hits the target area and has “right of attack”.

The Principles of Fencing with the Foil

The most important rule in fencing foil is that the attack must be made by extending and straightening the sword-arm so that the weapon threatens the target.(Remember the lunge starts with a straightening of the arm before the feet move). This gives the attacker the “right of way”. The person attacked must then defend him/herself. He is not allowed just to simply hit back. The attacker loses the right of way if s/he bend his/her arm again, or if s/he stops threatening the target, or if his/her opponent parried or beats his blade so that it is no longer threatening the target. A bout should look like a backwards and forwards exchange of attacks and parries, not like two bulls charging at each other.

The History of the Foil

The original 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 anything.
The foil has been the dominant factor in the development of modern fencing. 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.