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    The sport of fencing is fast and athletic. It is a very far cry from
    the choreographed bouts you see on film or on the stage. Instead
    of swinging from a chandelier or leaping off from balconies, you
    will see two skilled fencers moving back and forth on a 6-feet
    by 44-feet strip. The action is so fast the touches are scored
    electronically.

    THE BOUT

    Competitors win a fencing bout by being the first to score 15
    points (in direct elimination play) or 5 points (in preliminary pool
    play) against their opponent, or by having a higher score than
    their opponent when the time limit expires. Each time a fencer
    lands a valid hit - a touch - on their opponent, she receives one
    point. The time limit for direct elimination matches is nine minutes -
    three three-minute periods with a one-minute break between each.
    Fencing at the Olympic Games will feature a single-elimination
    table format, much like that used in Tennis. There will be no
    preliminary rounds, as the initial seeding into the table will be
    determined by World Rankings.

    THE WEAPONS

    Foil, epee and saber are the three weapons used in the sport of
    fencing. While some fencers compete in all three events, the elite
    generally choose to focus their energies on mastering one weapon.

    The foil is a descendant of the light court sword formerly used
    by nobility to train for duels. It has a flexible, rectangular blade
    approximately 35 inches in length and weighing less than one
    pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land
    on valid targets: torso from shoulders to groin in the front and to
    the waist in the back. The arms, neck, head and legs are
    considered off-target. Hits to this non-valid target temporarily halts
    the fencing action, but does not result any points being awarded.

    The saber is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword.

    The epee (literally meaning "sword" in French) is the descendant
    of the dueling sword.




    Interesting Fencing Facts

    1. Fencing is one of only four sports to be included in every
    modern Olympic Games, since the first in 1896. Fencing was
    also a sport in the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece.

    2. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic
    Games, was a fencer.

    3. The tip of the fencing weapon is the second fastest moving
    object in sport; the first is the marksman's bullet.

    4. Fencing is conducted on a 14m x 2m "strip" or "piste."  
    The end of the fencing strip represents the line drawn in the
    earth by duelists' seconds: to retreat behind this line during
    the duel indicated cowardice and loss of honor.

    5. The 750 gram weight test used to calibrate a touch, or is based
    on the amount of tension required to break the skin. In a duel, the
    victor's honor was insured when blood was first drawn -- even if
    from a minor wound such as a blister.
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