Sada Jacobson Bâby's Guide to Watching Fencing

Sada Jacobson Bâby's Guide to Watching Fencing

(Serge Timacheff/
Introducing the Expert

Name: Sada Jacobson Bâby
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Games and Medals: Athens 2004 (bronze, individual saber); Beijing 2008 (silver, individual saber; bronze, team saber)
Key Quote: “People often call fencing ‘physical chess’ because of its strategic and athletic components. I love that this sport not only demands physical agility, speed and endurance, but also the ability to outthink your opponent.”


Weapon - There are three disciplines in fencing: foil, épée and saber. Each has its own rules, target area and weapon. Pro tip: Don’t call it a sword!

Body cord - The wire that connects to a fencer’s weapon, runs up her sleeve and connects to a reel leading to the scoring machine. When the fencer scores a touch, her light will illuminate.

Lamé -The metallic jacket worn by saber and foil fencers. The conductive material is used for scoring.


1. Touché - Typically, a fencer will acknowledge a clear point against him or her by saying “touché.” It’s considered good form and builds credibility with the referee. Look for the fencer to hold up one index finger or signal to the ref with her weapon.

2. Flunge - A combination of the terms “flèche” and “lunge,” this saber move is an aggressive, one-legged jump used at the end of an attack to quickly close the distance between opponents.

3. Director - A referee

Lunge - A typical attacking move, the lunge is a fast extension used to quickly close the distance between two opponents. The fencer pushes off the back leg (which remains fully extended), landing on the bent front leg and extending the arm to reach her opponent.

Parry/riposte - This is one of the most basic defensive actions. When a fencer attempts to hit her opponent’s body, the opponent responds by blocking with her blade (a parry), and making a responsive hit (riposte) to score the point.


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