Difference Between Epee, Foil and Sabre

Epee, Foil vs Sabre

Fencing is a sport that is played using a sword like weapon in the hands of the players. The sport is played as a duel between two players but, unlike the practice of ancient soldiers and princes hitting enemies with their swords to kill and emerge victorious, the sport of fencing relies on agile movements and touching opponent’s body parts with weapons given to the players. The three weapons in fencing are Epee, Foil, and Sabre that confuse many. This article takes a closer look at these weapons used in the sport of fencing.


Modern fencing is more of a ballet dance on a strip of 40’x6’ where opponents try to outwit each other through speed and skills rather than brandishing sword as in movies or hitting the opponent with the intention of causing wounds. The players are so agile and their movements are so fast that their touches against each other’s bodies are recorded electronically.

Epee is a heavy weapon that is used by the players in a thrusting movement, and the aim is to touch the body parts of the opponent with the tip of the weapon rather than its blade. Epee looks like a sword and is quite heavy at around 27 ounces. It has a large guard to avoid being hit on the hand by an opponent. Points are scored by touches recorded electronically and the entire body of a player is considered valid in case of Epee fencing. This is why deft footwork and agility of a player are required in this form of fencing as both players avoid being hit by Epee and indulge in attack only rarely.


The blade of a foil is rectangular and flexible and about 35 inches in length. Foil can score points only when its tip touches the torso of the opponent. The target areas are from shoulders to the groin in front as well as the back portion of the opponent. A player gets no points if the foil touches the head, neck, arms, or the legs of the opponent. In foil fencing, both players have to wear a uniform that has a metallic vest which covers the entire area that is valid. The foils in the hands of the two players are connected with the scoring machine that records touches made with foils.


The length and weight of this weapon are same as that of a foil, and it looks like a true sword. The difference lies in the fact that, in Sabre fencing, the blade is also used, in addition to its tip. Thus, a Sabre can be used both as a thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. The target area in Sabre fencing is from the hip bend up to the head of the opponent and the jacket worn by the players covers this target are so as to help in recording touches made by Sabre.


It is clear from the above description that Epee, Foil, and Sabre are three different forms of fencing. In fact, they refer to different weapons that categorize these three different categories of fencing that have their own ardent fans and players. There are differences in size, blade, and scoring patterns as well as the target area on the body of the opponent with these three weapons.