Fencing Etiquette

Bouts both in practice and competition start with and end with a salute done with the sword. The former salute represents the fencers pledge of honour, they are promising to try their hardest to win while fencing within the rules. The later salute marks the formal end of the bout when it is safe to remove ones mask as proceed to shake hands with the opponent using the non-sword hand and taking the opportunity to thank the other person for their efforts and perhaps complementing them on some aspect of their fencing.

Fencing etiquette also expends into the conduct of the bout, although in competition Fencers salute their partner before and after each bout as a sign of respectthe referee awards the points it is quite usual for fencers to indicate to the referee that they have been hit, removing the need for the action to be phrased and the referee to decide the outcome. Hits are never claimed as in some other sports. Neither are fencers permitted to try to prejudice the outcome of the referees decision.

Fencing referees are in a great position compared to those in other sports. They are of course expected to be fair, consistent, honest and impartial. However they are allowed to be human and have human failings. If the referee couldn’t follow the phrasing of the action, or decide who was the attacker in Foil or Sabre bouts which could lead to the wrong fencer being awarded the point the the Referee can, within the rules of the sport advise the fencers to replay the point because of the ambiguity of their actions. Also if the Referee can’t follow the full sequence of actions in the phrase, due to whatever reason, they are at liberty to advise the fencers that’s the case and to replay the point.  In my mind a very sensible and practical way of dealing with the problems posed by rapid and sometimes confusing sequence of actions. Perhaps needless to say but the referees word is final as to what happened and who is awarded the point, only if they have misinterpreted the rules can a jury of appeal be called for to over rule a Referee.