When people think of fencing, they think of the weapons thrusting, cutting and parrying. But the foundation of the game really comes from fencing footwork basics.

Here’s a quick overview of each move:

En Garde

fencing footwork basics: getting into en garde

En garde is the basic starting position in fencing, and the most important position in fencing footwork basics.

The fencer stands with her feet turned 90 degrees from each other and about shoulder width apart. The weapon-hand foot should be forward, and the off-hand foot should be in the back.

En garde is a fencer’s home. Nearly every other move in this list begins in en garde.

 

Advance

Advance

This is how fencers move forward down the strip. Starting in en garde, the fencer extends the front foot forward and lands with the heel first. As the fencer lowers the toe on their front toe to the ground, they bring the back foot forward.

When the fencer completes an advance, they should again be in en garde.

Retreat

Retreat

This is how fencers move away from their opponents. Starting in en garde, the fencer reaches backward with their back foot. After the back foot lands, the front foot follows.

When the fencer completes a retreat, they should again be in en garde.

Lunge

Lunge

This is how fencers reach their opponents quickly. Starting in en garde, the fencer kicks their front foot while pushing forward with their back foot. The front foot should land heel-first before the fencer rolls her weight onto her toes. The fencer’s knee should not exceed 90 degrees from the floor.

When the fencer has completed the lunge, their body should be stretched and extended toward the target.

Advance Lunge

gifMill (8)

This is an advance, followed by a lunge. The advance lunge is considered the basic unit of an attack.

Recover

gifMill (2)

This is how fencers exit a lunge. Starting from a lunge position, the fencer pushes off with their front leg while pulling with their back leg.

When completed, the fencer should finish in an en garde.

Now you know terminology for fencing footwork basics. What else would you like to know? Tell us in the comments.

Support The Growth of Fencing While Accessing Great Content: Like this article and not already a member of Fencing University? Help us fund the creation of high quality instructional materials and access our premium content by becoming a member of FencingU today!