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Olympic Saber Fencing
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Watching the Olympics, it is incredible how swiftly fencers move in to strike and riposte within saber fencing. You may be wondering "How do you they do this?" Well you are reading the correct article! We shall be examining the rules and techniques of Olympic saber fencing and even perhaps take a brief glimpse at the historical background behind the rules.

Saber fencing is one of three different styles of Olympic fencing, the other two being foil and epee. Of these three separate styles, saber fencing is the only one in which you may score points through both cuts and thrusts. Before you begin getting over-excited about the possibility of engaging in a Zorro-like battle however you'll want to keep in mind that there are specific rules to which you must adhere. Firstly, you'll notice that the fencers spar upon a long strip or mat. Stepping out of this strip concedes your opponent a point, therefore it is essential to remain within the strip and avoid being forced back too far. Also, the target area wherein you may score an eligible point is the opponent's torso, from the waist up, their arms from the wrists up, and their head.

In order to score a valid point, fencers must contact the target area with the edge or point of their blade while having priority. This is accomplished through the thrusts and cuts, which are combined into a whip like twitch of the wrist and a lunge to maximize the speed and reach of the attack. The tricky part is winning priority.

Priority is awarded to the fencer who initiates an attack first. Their hits will count as points even if the opponent simultaneously makes a legal strike to the attacker's target area. In order to win priority from an opponent, you must parry their attack, which transfers the priority to the defender who may then freely riposte for a point. In the event that two fencers simultaneously attack with no hesitation and both strike each other at the start, the judges do not award or detract any points to either and simply restart the exchange.

When competing, fencers face each other in nine minute bouts which are broken into three periods. The bout ends when one fencer earns 15 points or time expires. A maximum of 8 points can be awarded in the first period. Saber fencing also has many small peculiar rules such as requiring that fencers not cross their legs during the bout. There is also no bodily contact allowed between fencers. Any offenses will be given a warning and any following offenses will result in a point for the opponent. It is important, therefore, to know and understand the rules and have excellent habits before entering a bout.

Obviously saber fencing is much more complicated than it may first appear to the naked eye. So much goes on in positioning and the blades move so quickly that it seems nearly impossible to determine what is actually happening. However to the trained eye it appears as a regular pattern of exchange. Now sit back, find some quality Olympic fencing videos to watch online, and break down the details of the fight with your new found knowledge!


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