Fencing in Canberra – video

Fencing in Canberra – video

It’s about time I posted about something other than the Cloud, or even CAD.

Every year, there are four national-level fencing competitions in Australia. As they are almost all held on the other side of the continent, I don’t get to compete in them as often as I’d like. However, a couple of months ago I did have the opportunity to compete in the third of these competitions for 2011, held this year in Canberra.

This was very special to me because my mother and sister were in the audience and it was the first time either of them had ever seen me fence. It was also special because my sabre coach, Frank Kocsis, flew out to be with me and his other students. Frank has taken only two years to move me from complete sabre novicehood to being competitive at national level, particularly in the veteran (over-40) events.

This is not an entirely Cloud-free post, because this video of me fencing in the Veteran Men’s Sabre Semi-Final (2:49 long) is hosted on YouTube:

I’m on the right. If a green light goes on, I’ve hit him. If he hits me, it’s a red light. If both lights go on, we’ve both hit each other within 120 milliseconds and the referee awards the hit based on right-of-way rules. Veteran direct elimination bouts (like this semi-final) are fought until one fencer scores ten hits.

If you want to see how the winner of the semi-final did, here is the Final (4:46).


    1. In short, an attacking fencer has right of way over a defending fencer, until the defender takes right of way back in some way or the attacker does something to hand right of way over to the other side. See here.

      For example, if I attack you and you just counter-attack and we hit at the same time, it’s my hit. If I attack you and you parry (block) my attack, you gain the right of way and if we then hit each other (your move would be called a riposte and mine a remise), it’s your hit. Similarly, if I attack you and fail (fall short or miss, for example), if we then hit each other it would be your hit; my initial failed attack would hand the right of way over to you. The right of way can pass back and forth several times in an exchange, like a game of tennis. Here is that happening in a foil bout.

      There are all sorts of subtle complications and interpretation of the rules can vary between referees. At this level there is no video replay option, but it is permitted to politely ask for an explanation. Hissy fits and other offences are punished with cards; yellow (warning), red (second and subsequent warnings; hit against) or black (exclusion from the event and possible further suspension). Black cards are usually reserved for serious offences such as throwing your equipment around, but can also be given for failing to salute and shake hands with your opponent at the end of a bout.

  1. Kenneth R. D'Aura

    Nice bout, but I’m a bit confused! Are the rules different for the Veteran level fencers as far as the number of points in a bout and the minute break? I’ve only been at this a year but they make me go to 15 pts and break at 8pts. Not an easy thing for me at 54 🙂 especially against an 18 year old!

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