The épée (pronounced “EPP-pay”), the descendant of the dueling sword, is similar in length to the foil, but is heavier, weighing approximately 27 ounces, with a larger guard (to protect the hand from a valid hit) and a much stiffer blade. Touches are scored only with the point of the blade. The entire body is the valid target area. Epee fencing is “unconventional”, meaning that there are no rules as to when one may attack and when one should defend.
Of the three weapons, it is the one closest to actual combat.
Unlike foil and sabre, there is no need for a special metallic vest or jacket as the entire body is valid target. The blade is wired with a spring-loaded tip at the end that completes an electrical circuit when it is depressed beyond a pressure of 750 grams. This causes a colored light and a buzzer on the machine against the one who is hit. Because the entire body is a valid target area, the épée fencer’s uniform does not include a lamé. Off-target hits do not register on the machine.
There is no “right of way” in epee. The fencer who hits first receives a point and if both fencers hit at the same time, (within 1/25th of a second), both receive a point. Otherwise, the fencer who scores five points first or is ahead when time runs out wins the bout.
What épée fencing looks like:
Check out sabre fencing next…