It is said that sports build character. This may seem inaccurate since most games are billed as battles between two or more competitive juggernauts, however, when it comes to fencing, the panache and elegance commonly associated with the sport necessitates both competitors to show the utmost respect to their rivals.
Whether it is foil, epée or sabre fencing, high levels of etiquette must be maintained before, during and after the duels.
This is indicative of the honor all competitors have in the sport as well as the behavioral traits required to be successful in fencing.
Before either practice or competitive bouts, fencers are expected to salute each other with their swords. This is taken as a pledge to abide by all the rules while still expending maximum effort in a bid to win the duel. The fact that such salutes are common occurrences in practices shows that both the instructors and the fencers honor the sport enough to follow the regulations even when an audience is not present.
Once the bout is done, a second salute is conducted to signal the end of the bout. After this, fencers are expected to shake hands.
The aforementioned handshake must be conducted with their non-sword hands and is commonly accompanied by an appreciation for the opponent’s effort and compliments on his/her skill where applicable.
This shows that fencers, despite competing in an incredibly taxing duel, still have the courtesy to both thank their rival as well as find elements of his swordsmanship to adulate.
During bouts, fencers are expected to be extremely transparent in the scoring process. Depending on the variation of fencing being practiced, points are earned by contact either on the torso or the entire body.
Referees are tasked with awarding these points whenever they detect contact. However, in line with fencing etiquette, if an opponent manages to make contact yet it is missed by the referee, a competitor is tasked with acknowledging the point and alerting the officiator accordingly. This ensures maximum transparency and a deserved winner after every duel.
In addition to that, fencers are barred from claiming points or attempting to sway the referee’s decision during bouts. Conniving tactics applied in other sport in a bid to gain a competitive advantage go against fencing etiquette and are discouraged before and during bouts.
Another key element of fencing etiquette is honesty during replays.
Referees have the liberty to request the fencers to replay a point so as to give him/her a clear basis from which to judge it.
This is necessary in a bid to ensure proper awarding of points. Whenever fencers are required to replay a sequence, they must not alter any motions. This would result in improper points acquisition that will eventually distort the final result.
Fencing etiquette dictates that integrity must apply in these situations to promote efficient officiating.
All in all, fencing etiquette is critical for the success of the sport. Any variations from the set guidelines may have major implications to both the competitors and the sport as a whole. It is therefore imperative that all fencers, whether professional or not, abide by these rules to ensure the sport develops as it was intended.