A common misconception concerning the origin of sabre's target area is that the legs are removed as targets due to sabre's origin as a cavalry weapon. Essentially, this line of reasoning goes, the legs of a horseman were not a valid target in war, since cutting the leg of a man riding a horse would not stop that man from continuing his charge. This myth has largely been refuted and several older texts demonstrate low sabre parries to protect the mount's flanks and the fencer's legs

The Weapon

The cross-section of the sabre blade is Y- or V-shaped, unlike the quadrangular shape of the foil, but not as stiff as the épée. Adult (Size 5) blades are 88 cm (35 inches) in length. At the end of the blade, the point is folded over itself to form a "button", although no actual button exists. The bell guard of the sword is curved around the handle, giving the fencer hand protection. On electrical sabres, a socket for the body wire is found underneath the bell guard. A fastener known as a pommel is attached to the end of the sword to keep the bell guard and handle on. The handle of a sabre is standardly a French grip, as most other grips are incompatible with the bell guard. The entire weapon is generally 105 cm (41 inches) long, and 500 grams (1.1 lb) in weight. It is shorter than the foil or épée, and lighter than the épée, making it easier to move swiftly and incisively. Many equate the sabre's blade to a matchstick, in that they are easy to snap but relatively cheap to replace.

Unlike the other two weapons, there is very little difference between an electric sabre and a steam or dry (non-electric) one. The blade itself is the same in steam and electric sabres, as there is no need for a blade wire or pressure-sensitive tip in an electric sabre. An electric sabre has a socket, which is generally a 2-prong or bayonet Foil socket with the two contacts shorted together. Early electric sabres were equipped with a capteur socket. The capteur was a device that was intended to detect a parry by use of an accelerometer. If a parry was detected, the electronics were supposed to invalidate any subsequent closing of the scoring circuit due to the flexible blade whipping around the parry. This device never worked as intended and was quickly discarded, and the whipover effect was greatly mitigated when the FIE mandated stiffer sabre blades in the S2000 specification. The electric sabre also has insulation on the pommel and on the inside of the guard to prevent an electrical connection between the sabre and the lamé. This is undesirable because it effectively extends the lamé onto the sabre, causing any blade contact to be registered as a valid touch.

Photos courtesy of Leon Paul Fencing Equipment


Sabre Fencing

The sabre is one of the three weapons of modern sport fencing, and is alternatively spelled saber in American English. The sabre differs from the other modern fencing weapons, the épée and foil, in that it is possible to score with the edge of the blade; for this reason, sabreur movements and attacks are very fast. For the other two weapons, valid touches are only scored using the point of the blade. Like foil, sabre uses the convention of right-of-way to determine who acquires the touch.

Sabre was the last weapon in fencing to make the transition over to using electrical equipment. This occurred in 1988, 31 years after Foil and 52 years after Épée. In 2004, immediately following the Athens Summer Olympics, the timing for recording a touch was shortened from its previous setting dramatically altering the sport and method in which a touch is scored.

Olympic Sabre Fencing, Beijing 2008 - Zhong of China v Lopez of France

Request More Information!Contact.htmlContact.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1

What is Fencing?

The sport of fencing is fast and athletic, a far cry from the choreographed bouts you see on film or on the stage.

Learn More?

Fencing History

A brief history
of the technique, science, art, and sport of fencing.

Learn More


The Weapons




1290 South 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95110 USA   (408) 298-8230

© Copyright  The Fencing Center.  All Rights Reserved.