Foil Basics

Hand Position

Basic Concepts of the Phrase

Right of Way
The Attack
The Advance-Lunge


Simple Attacks
Straight Thrust
Secondary Simple Attacks
Change Beat
Using Pressure   


Basic Defense
The Simple Parry
The Riposte
Ceding Parries
Complex Defense
Circular Parry
Counter Attacks
Arrest/Stop Thrust
Disengagement in Time
Passata Sota

When You Can't Score The First Time...

Feint Direct
Feint by Glide
Ripostes with Feints
Counter Disengagement
Feint in Time

Misc. Considerations

Probing Actions

Resources/Further Reading

Simple Defense

The Simple Parry - The basic movement of a parry is: a deflection of your opponent’s blade with yours by contacting his/her weak on your strong.  To execute properly, a number of steps must be accomplished in order:
1. On your opponents initial extension, retreat.
2. As your opponent lunges, take a second, smaller retreat and parry in the proper line.
3.  If you opponent is executing an advance-lunge, take a third retreat before parrying to compensate for the extra footwork.
4.  Riposte as your opponent is recovering from his lunge.
The parry involves blade movement of no more than a few inches, and the right to a riposte is (for you concern--the FIE has something different to say on the subject) granted within a measure of fencing time after a parry is made.  To accomplish parries in the high lines, simply angle the wrist to shift the blade to the right or the left.  To accomplish low-line parries, drop the point straight down, so it is about an inch or two below the point at which it meets the guard, and shift to the right or left.

Parries 1 (low inside), 2 (low outside), 3 (high outside), 4 (high inside), in a convenient thumbnail size.  Be forewarned, pictures are quite large.

The Riposte - A riposte with detachment is the primary and most preferred riposte in foil, as it can be directed to any line, fairly easily.  Ripostes with engagement function just like a glide, and are useful against fencers who are hesitant to be without blade contact. As with all ripostes, minimize excess movement, and lunge straight toward the target, but only as long or as far as you need to.

Riposte, both with engagement (top left) and with detachment (top right)

A riposte scoring in actual competition.  The first riposte out of parry 3 missed, but the second coming out of parry 4 nets a touch for the good looking fencer on the right. 

Ceding Parries - Ceding parries are useful moves against the glide attack.  As a glide is initiated, retreat until the proper engagement (strong on weak) of blades is obtained.  At this point, a riposte with engagement should follow.

Complex Defense -

Circular ParriesCircular parries are parries that happen on the opposite line your blade was positioned in at the start.  As your opponent lunges, make a small circle to the other side of the blade, and, once there, proceed to parry.  DO NOT spin around your opponent’s blade, picking it up with you and guiding it to target area.  Nor should you overrotate and miss the parry altogether.  It is two separate movements done fluidly.  Think of it as such.


Arrest/Strop Thrust - Used against multiple feint attacks or delayed coupes, a stop thrust is simply an extension plus a half lunge that starts before the initiation of the opponents final maneuver (and hence his/her attack).  It is critical that the move be completed before the opponent has gained right of way.  If in doubt, do not use it.

Disengagement in Time - Used against all varieties of beat attacks, the disengagement in time is a move that evades the opponent’s blade as it is trying to beat.  One can follow this up using any simple or complex attack. 

Inquartata - Following the initiation of an attack by the opponent, the blade is extended to the inside high line, and the back foot is moved approximately 45 degrees to the right (if right handed) or left (if left handed) of the attack.  In theory, the opponent’s blade should be passé, and yours should net a touch.  Under no circumstances should you ever turn your back to an opponent, so watch that you don’t over rotate your torso.

Passata Sota - Like the inquartata, this is a body evasion, but to the low line, usually to the flank. As the opponent attacks, extend straight ahead, and, while doing so, essentially lunge backward with your left leg, letting your non fencing hand touch the floor and bending over so that your opponent’s blade is left idle in the air above you.  Keep your head up though, as covering target area with the bib is a penalty.