5 Great Fencing Epees - A Beginners Buyers Guide To Fencing
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Too late, you realized how daunting buying your first fencing set can be, but you still want your own equipment. With so much to choose from and no real method for selecting beginner’s gear, it can be confusing.
A beginner’s buying guide to fencing: What specific protective gear do you need to start?
- A mask based on weapon style (foil, epee, or saber)
- Jacket (left or right-handed, front or back-zippered)
- Knickers (left or right-handed)
- Court shoes
- Chest and/or underarm protector/plastron
- Body Wire (optional)
- Weapon (foil or epee)
However, before you go out and start buying equipment, there are some essential facts to know, especially if you’re buying for a child.
Clothing is sized differently for children and is based on their age, and the measurement of their chest, weight, height, head, and hand. Weapons are also shorter and lighter for youngsters.
Further, your child’s coach and his or her club may have different fencing styles, and the weapon you select will depend on your child’s preference and their coach. Here is a general blade chart for reference.
|Eight years-old and under, but many users start with #2||#0 Blade||30” long|
|Eight to ten-years-old & under||#2 Blade||32” long|
|·Ten years-old and above|
·Is a transitional blade for teens
|#4 Blade||·34” long|
·Used if too big for #2 but not old enough for #5
|Age 11 and above & adults||#5 Blade||35” long|
Six Fencing Tips for Beginners and What You Should Know First
You probably already know your preferred type of fencing (foil, epee, or saber), and are aware the appropriate protective gear is the same regardless of the weapon you use. Here are six simple tips for beginners.
1. Mask Are Based on Your Type of Fencing
One of the first items you should buy is a mask, which comes in different styles and is based on the weapon. Beginners who aren’t fencing electronically (wired and attached to the scoring machine) and those who select epee fencing can use standard epee masks. Foil and saber masks have electrically conductive materials.
Masks (as with most fencing gear) come in two categories, Federate International Escrime (FIE) approved and non-FIE approved. The approved version has a bib that provides 1600 Newtons of protection, while the standard provides 350 Newtons.
(Newton pressure test protection on the bib protects the throat.) Hence, choose a mask that has good interior padding and fits securely.
2. Your Fencing Glove Should Fit You, well, like a Glove
Gloves come in electric and non-electric versions. It's best to get fitted because it can increase the effectiveness of your game.
The electronic version is worth the price because it comes with a velcro closure cuff, which allows easy access (from under the sleeve) to connect the body wire to the electric weapon.
For saber fencing beginners, you can buy an electric cuff that goes on top of the glove. The fully electric gloves are the most expensive.
To help you out finding the right fencing glove for you, check out this complete guide.
3. Jackets and Knickers for the Beginner
Jackets protect the fencer’s torso and arms, and here too, it’s important to select one that fits you and provide ample protection.
Most clubs use back-zip jackets for beginners because they’re ambidextrous, but there are front zip versions, and right-and-left-handed styles, as well.
Fencers usually prefer the front zipped version, as its easier to put on and cost less. Jackets come in cotton and synthetic fabrics, and though cotton is cheaper, it's hotter and heavier, while synthetic is more expensive.
Knickers are also FIE and non-FIE approved and come in left and right-handed versions. The fly overlap and pocket side matters, so choose wisely.
The overlap should be on the weapon arm side, and the pocket on the opposite side of the weapon arm to prevent your opponent’s blade from being caught.
4. Underarm Protector/Plastron Are Essential to Every Fencer
The underarm protectors are half-jackets that are worn inside your regular jacket and are typically required in clubs.
They have more padding and protection for your dominant arm and offer either FIE (800 Newton) or 350 Newton protection for the non-FIE approved type. The 800 Newton plastron provides more protection but isn’t necessary for beginners.
Also, chest protectors are mandatory for females in tournaments, but overall are optional for males.
5. Do You Need Specialized Shoes for Fencing?
Beginners can wear court shoes (e.g. tennis and volleyball) or cross-trainers. There are, however, fencing shoes that are designed for the movements of a fencer and provides better traction, but they’re expensive.
If you’re looking for a great guide, check out this 2019 guide to buying fencing shoes.
A note on socks: they are required in all tournaments and must reach up to the knee.
6. Optional Fencing Body Wire
There is the bayonet body connecting style and the 2-pin version for foil and saber (Amazon link) which is more popular in the U.S.
Some believe it provides more protection and better secures retaining clips, for example.
They are not all made equal, so be selective when you do decide to buy.
Choosing the Right Fencing Weapon
There are three main categories of fencing weapons, and it is crucial to know what type you need before purchasing. For example, standard blades are best for children, and the FIE-approved Maragine steel blade, which doesn’t break as easily, is best for adults.
- Foil: It’s ideal for thrusting and is a thin, flexible blade with a dull (foiled) tip. The target area is the upper body, except for the arms and neck. It is the smallest and most popular of the three types of weapons and is best suited for beginners.
- Epee: It has a more rigid blade with a larger bell guard. It’s also heavier, wider, and thicker. The target area is the entire body. These blades are typically the most expensive of the three.
- Saber: It’s designed for cutting and slashing. The target area is above the waistline and includes the arms and head. Saber fencers must wear an electrical jacket called a lame. Of the three, saber replacement blades are the cheapest.
- Grips: There is the French grip, and then pistol grips, which include the Visconti, Belgian, and Hungarian styles. In general, grips are subjective and based on the fencer’s preference. They are interchangeable between most weapons. The French grip is more traditional and used for beginners, while the pistol grip is for more experienced fencers.
Also, FIE approved blades are better quality, last longer, and require less straightening. Even though they cost more than standard carbon steel blades, many fencers think it’s safer and worth the price.
5 Great Fencing Weapons for Beginners
As you’ve seen, there is much to consider concerning weapons, including which tips are best for foil, epee, and sabers. For beginners, however, starting with a reliable blade is a good launching point. These five weapons include epee and foils and are based on recommendations by Daniel Core at Fighting Report.
#1 Most Popular
Radical Fencing RF Nasycon
This is one of the top sellers. It's perfect for new fencers and practice.
|Left and right handed|
The blade’s foil is just as sturdy as it is flexible, and is made by a top fencing manufacturer. The tip is rubber and can be used with ease by left-and right-handed fencers, alike.
It’s easy for any level user but is targeted for beginners (Amazon link) because of the price and design.
#2 Well Balanced Choice
Physical Chess X-Fencing
|Balanced||Only for right-handed fencers|
Also great for beginners, this fencing epee is great for practicing and is balanced and sturdy. It comes fully assembled and is a decent price tag for any level fencer. According to Core, this style is best suited for right-handed users.
A balanced and practical weapon (Amazon link) built for practice
#3 Top Quality Choice
Leonark Electric Fencing
This epee comes on the high end of the budget, but it is arguably the best quality item on the list.
|Robust guard pad||Not preassembled|
|Responsive and precise electronic tip|
A fencing foil, it comes in sizes for both adults and children. It has a robust guard pad and a good grip, which is safer for beginners. The electronic tip is responsive and precise. It’s expensive, though, and does not come preassembled.
It, too, is balanced and is a high-quality weapon (Amazon link) that can be used for both practice and tournaments.
#4 Best Electric for Beginners
Blade Basic Electric
If you are new to the sport and you need a good electric epee, this one might be your pick.
A light-weight electric foil that has a good center of balance. It’s also balanced and come at a reasonable price. It’s flexible, has a Visconti pistol grip, and comes in three blaze sizes.
This blade (Amazon link) is a solid option for recreational beginners
#5 Best Value for Money
The Pro Fencing Practice
This sword delivers great quality for the money. It's great for practice and daily use.
|Good for developing point control||Wiring might be weak|
This French tip foil is a quality weapon and is “great for enforcing and developing point control, a skill that is crucial for beginners to learn,” says Core.
It is well-priced (Amazon link) without sacrificing quality and performance.
What if I’m too old to start fencing? Fencing doesn’t have an age limit. Anyone can pick up the sport even if you’re not in tip-top shape. As you train, your technique and tactics will determine your success more than how much you weigh. Fencing is also accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs.
Is Fencing Hard to Learn? Fencing is a very strategic sport, but not extremely physically challenging. It takes wit and skill to become a master at the sport, but anyone can do it on a beginner level. Fencing is also one of the safest sports even though swords are involved. Safety regulations and equipment secures the participants so no harm can be done.