These pages have been created from material presented to a refereeing seminar given by Keith Smith at Bristol, Sept 1998 (and later at Kingston Fencing Club).   The pages have been photocopied, scanned then OCR'd (converted to text by charcter recognition).   There will inevitably be errors which were not present in the original.

Article from the Sword, part 1

Article from the Sword, part 2

Hand signals

Faults and penalties

(list for overview)

Fundamentals of fencing

General hints for better refereeing

Epee refereeing hints

Foil refereeing hints

Sabre refereeing hints

Foil Refereeing Hints
The most important task at foil is to decide who started the initial offensive action and what happens to that action. It is important to remember that the attack is the initial straightening of the arm, causing the point to threaten the valid target of the opponent. Any subsequent bending of the arm may cause the right of way to pass to the opponent, depending upon their actions. The arm of the attacking fencer does not have to be straight, but straightening and also threatening the valid target of the opponent.

1. Watch for the attack starting, remember to watch for the arm straightening and threatening the valid target.

2. Remember the shoulder is the valid target as is the back, and so it will be impossible for the attacker to hit the back of the shoulder unless the arm is still slightly bent, but threatening the target.

3. The point in line must be with a straight arm and must constantly threaten the valid target of the opponent. The point in line must be in place before the attacker starts the attack or it will be out of time.

4. Beat parries are very common. These are in effect attacks upon the blades. The FIE calls this "attaque au fer". They are not a taking of the blade ''pris de fer", but attacks on the blade, giving the right of way to the fencer who makes the beat.

5. Watch for fencers who substitute target. This means the back arm, the mask or reversing the shoulders. You need to apply the correct penalties. In addition use of the non sword arm to parry results in the annulation of the hit scored and a yellow card. If in doubt call for arm judges. Likewise if the fencer calls for arm judges you cannot say no.

6, Watch the point of the blade closely.

7. Watch for any pause or bending of the arm which may allow the right of attack to pass to the opponent.

8.Pay close attention to corps a corps. It is really a method to avoid being hit. It should be penalised.

9. A fencer who runs forward with the arm not straightening is not attacking and is liable to be hit by the attack of his opponent. I cannot stress how important it is to referee regularly, especially at men's foil. You need to have the sense of time in your mind all the time. Also regular refereeing will gain the confidence of the fencers.