What’s an Epee?

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Epee is a type of fencing sword used in sport fencing, descended from the rapier. It has a fluted blade and a large guard. In epee fencing, the whole body is a valid target and there is no specific right of way. Fencers usually start with foil before advancing to epee or saber. Electrified blades are used in competitions to register hits.

An epee is a type of fencing sword, and the term is also used to describe a specific discipline in sport fencing. It should come as no surprise to learn that sword fencers use swords, along with a variety of techniques that have been customized for sword use. Sword fencing is very popular all over the world, and if you are interested in seeing sword fencers in action, it is very likely that there will be a demonstration or competition in your area in the near future, assuming you live close to a large metropolis the area.

The sword is a descendant of the rapier, the sword of choice during the Renaissance. The blade of this sword is fluted, with a tapering point and a very large bowl-shaped guard to protect the hand. These blades are also the heaviest of the blades used in sport fencing, and it is possible to do serious damage with a sword if you are not properly trained in its use, although the blades are flexible to assist in bending when contacted with a body .

In sports fencing only hits registered with the tip of the sword are considered valid. In the competition circuit, most fencers use electrified blades that cause a light to go out when they complete a circuit by making contact with an opponent. As the question of who strikes first is crucial in fencing, these lights ensure that judges spot the first strike and ensure that strikes are recognized, even a fencer does not feel struck.

In epee the whole body is considered a valid target. This school of fencing is probably most closely related to the epee’s traditional role in dueling and defense, as foil and saber both have specific target areas. In épée fencing anything goes and there is no specific right of way, so a sword fight can go fast and furious, with both fencers attempting to score a hit and the symbolic ‘first blood’.

Before learning épée, most fencers start with foil, using a lighter sword and more complex rules. After learning sport etiquette and handling a sword, fencers may choose to advance to épée or study saber, another branch of sport fencing. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with foil, however; many fine fencers around the world are masters of the art of foil and their matches are beautiful to watch. If you are interested in learning swordsmanship, be prepared to start with foil training and consider looking for an instructor or school that offers swordsmanship, as not everyone does.

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