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Sabre: The Cavalry Cutlass

Sabre

The modern sabre is descended from the cavalry sword which had a sharp point, a cutting edge the full length of the front of the blade and a cutting edge on the upper 1/3rd of the back of the blade. In battle, the sabre was mainly used while on horseback and the modern version of sabre fencing is designed to approximate many of the aspects of mounted combat.

In the days of classic sabre battles, well trained horses were an expensive commodity thus, every attempt was made to avoid injuring the horse of one's opponent in hopes of capturing the animal once it's rider had been dispatched. Given the proximity of the rider's body below the waist to the body of the horse, any attack made was aimed above the rider's waist in order to spare injury to the horse. This custom is what has lead to the assignment of target area for modern sabre fencing to everything above the waist including the head and arms. An electrically conductive mask, gauntlet and jacket (called a lamé) are worn to denote this target area and allow for the registering of touches via the scoring machine.

As in foil, modern sabre fencing incorporates the concept of priority with only a few subtle differences. Points are scored by touching any part of the weapon's blade against the target area of one's opponent. Due to the speed of running sabre attacks and the potential for serious injury they present, rules have been implemented that do not allow crossing of the feet when moving forward and a penalty (yellow card) is issued should this occur during a bout.

Sabre is by far the fastest, most energetic form of modern fencing. So much so, in fact, that time is not kept for bouts because it is so rare for a bout to last more than a few minutes.

Foil fencing

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

Épée       Foil

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Page Last updated:  8/24/2014