Have you ever seen someone sit through a football or baseball party bored and uninterested in the game? It’s usually because he or she doesn’t know the rules and can’t follow along. When it comes to a lesser-known sport like fencing, most parents come to the table with little knowledge of the rules and strategies. It’s much easier to enjoy fencing competitions and support your young fencers if you can follow the action! This post is intended to give you some pointers for the next time you’re cheering at a fencing competition.
The first step to following a fencing bout is to know the basic rules. If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage you to check out our recent series of three blogs on “Fencing Rules for the Novice Parent.” We walk through the basic rules, rule differences for each weapon, and how each type of weapon leads to a different strategy. As you read these blogs, focus more on understanding your child’s weapon of choice because it makes sense to start there—and you will most likely spend a lot of time watching bouts with that particular weapon.
Once you have a basic understanding of the rules, the next tip is to start by watching the lights on the scoring box and the referee’s hands. It’s easier to start by simply enjoying the athleticism and grace of the fencers during the action and then understanding the competition by watching the outcome. As discussed in the our post on strategy by weapon, each fencer will either by assigned to the red or green light and the respective light will light up when that fencer scores. In foil, a white light indicates an off-target touch that does not score a point. You can also watch the referee’s hand as he or she will raise a hand on the side that gets the point.
The scoring machines also often keep count and time, though not always. If they do, you can follow along with the score by watching the box and also see how much time is left in the bout. Remember that the bout might end because one fencer reaches the necessary number of points, or it may end when time runs out before either fencer scores enough and the fencer with the most points at that time wins the bout.
When you do attempt to follow the actual fencing action, it’s easier to focus on one weapon. Watch your child’s weapon if he or she is one of the fencers! Giving yourself a focal point will help with your ability to keep up with the action rather than getting lost in the quick moves.
You can also pay attention to the fencers’ yells. More experienced fencers will often yell if they score. Sometimes both will yell, particularly in right-of-way fencing (foil and sabre), sometimes in an attempt to influence the referee’s decision.
We hope this post helps you to follow along at your next competition! Remember that it’s okay to yell along with the fencers after a great move (while respecting opponents and referee). Get into the bout, your children will love your enthusiasm and you will have a great time getting involved!