Fencing is an incredibly fun sport but, like others, it comes with its own set of risks. Football players wear pads, soccer players wear shin guards, and fencers wear full protective gear. While the right equipment is important, there’s far more to overall safety in fencing.

Basic Safety Rules

You’re not expected to know everything there is to know about safety when you first start your classes. Your coaches and fellow students will guide you along the way. These are some of the most important rules you’ll need to remember along the way.

  1. Never go without gear. Never. Missing something? Left something at home? Found a rip or tear that worries you? Don’t try to fake it, even if it’s the groin protection no one else can see under your uniform. Let your coach know so they can make sure you are equipped safely.
  2. Point your weapon down. Your weapon should always be pointing down when you are not sparring. You and your partner should both have masks on if your weapons are up.
  3. Always salute from enguarde. This is done to make sure there is sufficient distance for bowing while weapons are pointed up. Then put your weapon down to approach and shake hands. This will prevent unnecessary accidents.
  4. Violence is prohibited. Even though fencers strike each other, their goal is not to cause damage or injury. The strikes for points are mere touches. You should never use more than a flick.
  5. Mind right of way. Fencers actively working have the right of way. Spectators and passers-by must avoid them, not the other way around.
  6. Always report injuries. Right away. Don’t wait. Stop your match or practice and let your coach know if you are hurt. Period. End of story. It’s better to stop and treat a minor injury than it will be to have to skip fencing for days on end to heal from something worse.
  7. Never wear fencing shoes outdoors. Your shoes are solely for indoor use, mainly because keeping them clean of outside debris will keep the fencing floors from getting slippery.

There are tons of other rules you’ll need to learn, but safety always comes first. Showing respect for the rules shows respect for your coaches, classmates, fellow competitors and, of course, yourself. Be conscious of your actions – and enjoy!