There are fencing competitions, and then there are fencing competitions.
The fencing Grand Prix is a fencing competition that is unlike anything else in America. There are certainly other competitions in the world that have a similar stature in terms of size or media coverage or fencing prowess, but not here in the United States. It’s a yearly exercise in the best, and it’s something I look forward to year after year.
What is the Fencing Grand Prix?
When we think of the words “Grand Prix”, for lots of people that brings to mind automobile racing. Honestly in fencing it’s much the same as it is in car racing, except instead of cars racing around courses in different parts of the world on the hunt for the top prize, it’s fencers chasing each other across the strip to hunt for the top prize.
The international governing body of fencing, FIE, organizes a series of nine events around the globe each year for the best fencers in the world to meet and challenge themselves. These competitions are called the Grand Prix, and they take place literally all over the world.
- Men’s and Women’s Epee – Doha, Qatar
- Men’s and Women’s Epee – Budapest, Hungary
- Men’s and Women’s Epee – Cali, Columbia
- Men’s and Women’s Foil – Turin, Italy
- Men’s and Women’s Foil – Anaheim California, USA
- Men’s and Women’s Foil – Shanghai, China
- Men’s and Women’s Sabre – Caire, Egypt
- Men’s and Women’s Sabre – Seoul, South Korea
- Men’s and Women’s Sabre – Moscow, Russia
You can see that there are three Grand Prix held for each weapon, and that they are held across the globe. The competitions run from January through May, with fencers vying for international rankings and qualification for other competitions.
Grand Prix are different from the Fencing World Cup competitions, of which there are five each year. They are also distinct from zonal championships, which cover only a certain region of the world. The world rankings are fed into through qualification from World Cup, Grand Prix, and zonal competitions. The Olympics are a totally different thing, governed by a different organization, the IOC. Satellite competitions are held in addition to all of these other international competitions.
So there you are, the basics of the Fencing Grand Prix.