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Épée: The Classic Dueling Weapon


The modern épée is a direct descendent of the épée de combat, the classic dueling weapon of pre 19th century Europe. The blade of the original weapon was sharp pointed with no cutting edge. The winner of a duel was the fencer who was first to draw blood from their opponent, weather it be a mere scratch or a wound that would prove fatal.

The modern electric épée has a small button on the tip to simulate the sharp point of the original weapon. To score, the fencer must depress the button against a valid target area on the opposing fencer. At least 750 grams of pressure is required to depress the point which equates to the amount of pressure required to break the skin using the original, sharp pointed, weapon.

The rules governing the sport of modern épée fencing are very similar to those of a classic duel where, pretty much anything goes. The entire body, head to toe, front to back is valid target. The first of the opponents to touch the point of their weapon upon their opponent with enough pressure to register a touch is awarded a point with the only exception being when both fencers touch their opponent within 1/25th of a second. When this occurs, each fencer is awarded a point.

Because both fencers can score simultaneously, épée fencing style tends to be very cautious since any action initiated by either fencer creates potential openings that could be exploited by one's opponent. Top level épée bouts tend to look much like a boxing match with each fencer probing for an opening while keeping their defenses up. Once an opening is found, a blindingly fast attack is thrown in hopes of catching one's opponent off guard.

Epee fencing

Further information about épée fencing rules can be found on the USA Fencing web site.

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Page Last updated:  8/24/2014