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Fencing is a sport that uses a number of French words, which can be confusing to people who are either new to the sport or do not speak the language. Here are some of the most common terms and phrases used in fencing, and the meaning behind them.

‘Allez’ is the French word for ‘go’, and in fencing terms, it is the word that the referee uses to start a bout.

An assault in fencing refers to a friendly game between two fencers, where scores may or may not be kept.

This refers to a warning given in response to a small infraction, and is commonly known as the yellow card.

Black Card
The black card is the most severe of punishments in fencing, and is issued when a fencer has committed a serious infraction. If a fencer gets a black card, he is expelled from the game or tournament. While rare, black cards can also be issued to unruly spectators.

Red Card
A red card is issued in the event of a fencer committing any violent actions during a point, and results in a warning to the fencer, as well as one point being awarded to the opponent.

A bout is similar to an assault, with the exception that scores are kept.

This refers to bodily contact between the two fencers, and is considered an illegal move in both foil and saber fencing.

‘En-garde’ is French for ‘on guard’, and is uttered by the referee before the start of the bout to signify to the fencers that they should get into positions.

An epee is one of three main weapons that are employed in fencing. It is light, with a triangular blade and large hand guard.

The foil is the second of three fencing weapons, and features a rectangular blade.

The saber is the last of three common weapons used in fencing, and features a flat blade and knuckle guard.

The hilt is the part of the blade that a fencer holds onto, and includes the guard, the grip and the pommel.

The jury is made of four people who watch for hits and touches in a bout that does not use electronic scoring. These people have to watch for hits on the opposite ends of their positions, and call hits by raising their hands to inform the referee.

The lamé is an electric conductive jacket worn on the body of the fencers, and is used to score hits electronically.

The ‘plastron’, also known as underarm guard, is compulsory for fencers to wear during a fencing bout.

The point of the blade is the only part of the weapon that enables the fencer to score points in foil and epee fencing.

French for ‘ready’, pret is one of the three words that the referee utters before the start of the bout. The sequence goes as follows: en-garde, pret, allez.

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