It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Fencing is a combat sport, which involves the usage of a sword--either a foil, an épée, or a saber. This is one of the few sports that's been an integral part of the modern Olympics since the first edition way back in 1896.
While this sport has medieval roots, modern fencing was invented only in the 18th century. Today, this sports is played in almost every continent, and is governed by the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Even Indian fencers compete internationally in this sport.
The objective of the game is to score more points than your opponent by touching or striking him/her with the designated sword. When a foil is used, fencers are only allowed to strike or touch their opponent's torso. Fencers are allowed to strike the entire body when an épée is used, whereas they can strike everything above the waist (except the hands) when sabres are used.
Fencing is a very cerebral game and is all about one's ability to control the bout and ensure victory. They key is to maintain an ideal distance from your opponent so as to score points without letting him/her score. Therefore footwork is extremely important in this sport and it takes years of practice to master the art of fencing.
Another important aspect of fencing is the gear. One should not attempt this sport sans protection as it can lead to serious--often, life-threatening--injuries! Elaborate fencing protection includes rough nylon or cotton outfits and kevlar vests.
The flat-soled shoes used in fencing have reinforcements on the inside of the back foot and heel of front foot. This is meant to prevent wear and tear resulting from constant lunging. Fencers are also required to wear gloves, underarm protectors and fencing masks with special bibs.
During competitions, fencers wear a layer of electrically conductive material on the valid target area. This layer is called lamé, and it indicates whether or not a hit was on target.
All in all, fencing is not as easy as it looks, and with all the gear that goes into it, it's also pretty expensive! However, it is very popular in the United Kingdom--especially in universities--where annual fencing competitions are keenly contested by world-class fencers.
Like most alternative sports, even fencing is better understood as you keep watching it. So, be sure to watch this combat sport during the Olympic Games later this year!
For now, check out this dramatic fencing video:
-Picture courtesy Thinkstock-
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