Introduction to Universiade Fencing

Tickets to watch the fencing competitions at the Taipei Universiade are already sold out! But what makes this little-known sport so popular? Today, let’s dive into the cutthroat world of competitive fencing.

Competitive fencing is divided into categories based on which body parts competitors are allowed to target with their weapons:

  1. Foil is the competitive event in which competitors are only allowed to target the torso, not head, arms, or legs.
  2. Sabre is the competitive event in which competitors can target anywhere above the waist (torso, arms, and head).
  3. Epee is the competitive event in which the entire body is fair game as a target.

This Universiade, every country may send a maximum of 24 competitors to compete in either Individual or Team fencing events, with a maximum of four competitors per weapon event.

In individual events, “pool bouts” are used as the fencing preliminaries. Fencers are separated into pools of 6 or 7, and will fence every other fencer in their pool. Each bout is three minutes long, or to 5 points, and those who accumulate the most points can advance to direct elimination rounds.

Direct elimination rounds have three three-minute rounds per match, with one-minute breaks in between. Matches last three rounds or to fifteen points. Interestingly, if there is a tie, there is a short tiebreaker match where the fencer who scores the first hit wins. If neither party score any points, the fencer who won a draw of lots prior to the match automatically wins.

Team events are composed of three competitors with one substitute, and each country may enter a maximum of one team. However, contrary to team events in most sports, team matches in fencing are still one-on-one events. The only difference is that fencers from opposing teams will each fence each other, and the team with the most points wins, as opposed to individual events.

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