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The art and science of armed combat.

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In the broadest possible sense, fencing is the art and science of armed combat involving cutting, stabbing or bludgeoning weapons directly manipulated by hand, rather than shot or thrown (in other words, swords, knives, pikes, bayonets, batons, clubs, and so on). In contemporary common usage, fencing tends to refer specifically to European schools of swordsmanship and to the modern Olympic sport that has evolved out of them.

The history of fencing
Fencing can be traced at least as far back as Ancient Egypt. The earliest known depiction of a fencing bout, complete with practice weapons, safety equipment, and judges, is a relief in a temple near Luxor built by Rameses III around 1190 BC. The Greeks and Romans had systems of martial arts and military training that included swordsmanship, and fencing-schools and professional champions were known throughout medieval Europe. The earliest surviving record of Western techniques of fencing is the manuscript known as MS I.33, which was created in southern Germany c. 1300 and today resides at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Throughout the Middle Ages, masters continued to teach systems for using the sword (together with other weapons and grappling) to noble and non-noble alike. The wearing of the sword with civilian dress (a custom that had begun in the late fifteenth century on the Iberian Peninsula) gradually gave rise to a new system of civilian swordsmanship based more on the thrust than on the cut, with the aim being to keep the adversary at a distance with the point, and slay him there. This gave rise to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century systems of using the rapier and the seventeenth and eighteenth century smallsword. Though swords ceased to be an article of everyday dress after the French Revolution, they continued to be used in warfare and to resolve disputes of honour in formal duels through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.

Though agonistic competition in fencing is as old as the art itself, the modern sport of fencing originated in the first Olympic games in 1896. The first few years of fencing as a sport were chaotic, with important rule disagreements among schools of fencing from different countries, notably the representatives of the French and Italian schools. This state of affairs ended in 1913, with the foundation of the "Fédération Internationale d'Escrime" (FIE) in Paris. The stated purpose of the FIE is to codify and regulate the practice of the sport of fencing, particularly for the purpose of international competition. The foundation of the FIE is a convenient breaking point between the classical and the modern traditions of fencing.

Source: Wikipedia

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