Fencing dates
back thousands of years to 1200 BCE where swordsmanship was performed as a form
of military training for war, combats between two people and pastime by the Romans,
Persians, Greeks, and Germanic tribes (Evangelista, 2017). Throughout the
Middle Ages, sword combat became a mastery of skill. As the popularity of sword
fighting increased, sword training schools with fencing masters also developed.
Changes to the sword was also made for easier handling and protection of the
human body so they were no longer used as weapons. The Italians and French
altered the cross-bar of the sword so the bar would not pierce through the protection
layer worn by the fighter, this added to the ease of handling but lost some of
the strength of the sword (Castello, 1933). By the end of the 16th
century, the sword had changed to become lighter and simpler to enhance control
and speed. This fencing style was spread and developed across Europe and soon fencing
became recognised as a form of art. Schools continued to teach fencing in safe
training environments, emphasising strategy and form. It was only in the late
19th century that fencing became an organised sport, using a light
sabre in a duel (Evangelista, 2017).

Technology
impacted the scoring system of fencing majorly as traditional scoring was done
by five individuals giving votes, which led to issues such as cheating. This
was when an electronic scoring system was introduced in the late 1800s. A
buzzer was attached to the wall, with a wire wrapped around each fighter’s neck
to the handle of their sword. When a hit was made, the blade of the sword would
be pressed back into the handle, completing a circuit and activating the
buzzer. As technology advanced, wireless systems were developed and fighters
wore conductive jackets, masks and cuffs to improve the signal. Lights now
appear on the fighter’s mask to signal whether a hit has been successful (Ford,
2016).

            There
are three types of weapons used in fencing, including the sabre, foil and epee.
Competitors must wear the appropriate clothing checked by officials to ensure
safety, including fencing pants and a jacket called a lame, face mask, and fencing
glove. Fencers compete on a strip of material that measures five to seven feet
wide and 46 feet long and they have to stay on it at all times. A point to
given to each fencer when they touch their opponent in an approved target zone with
their weapon. The target changes with the different weapons used. Any part of
the body counts as a touch in epee fencing, while in sabre fencing only areas
above the waist are within the target zone and in foil fencing, only the trunk
of the body can be targeted. A fencing match may last three minutes with the
first to five touches, or it may last nine minutes with 15 touches. Whenever a
touch is made, a new round begins. If a fencer steps out the boundaries, the
opponent is awarded one meter of ground on the restart round. Officials may
also award a fencer one touch if the opponent displays unethical behaviour, lack
of sportsmanship or attacks with both hands. 

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