When baseball players compete, they head to the field. Fencers compete on a strip. What is a fencing strip? Here’s a breakdown.

Length and width

Fencing strips vary significantly in width. Officially, strips should be 1.5 – 2 meters wide (about 5 feet to 6.5 feet).

However, this measurement typically only applies to major events. Most clubs (and the events hosted at them) use narrower strips — often as little as three feet wide.

Fencing strips measure 14 meters from end to end, and a series of lines divide the strip into five discrete sections.

Fencing Strip Lines

A total of seven lines mark every official fencing strip.

Center line: This line marks the center of strip.

En Garde Lines: Every fencing strip has two en garde lines. Each en garde line stands two meters from the center line. This is where fencers get ready for the first touch of the bout.

Warning line: Every fencing strip also has two warning lines. Each warning line stands five meters from the center line, and two meters from the end line. Warning lines have no official impact on the bout, but they give fencers a point of reference to let them know where they are on the stip.

End line: The end lines mark the end of the strip, seven meters from the center line on either end of the strip.

What is a fencing strip: a visual breakdown

an image that explains what is a fencing strip

How does the strip effect the action?

The first thing you’re going to wonder after “what is a fencing strip?” is probably “how does it impact the action?”

Like most sports, the participants must restrict their activities to the fencing strip, which is the official field of play. If fencers leave the strip, they suffer penalties.

Stepping off the back of the strip: Fencers are allowed to step off the back of the strip with one foot with no penalty. If a fencer steps both feet off the back of the strip, the referee awards a point to the other fencer.

Stepping off the side of the strip: If a fencer steps off the side if the strip with one or both feet, they lose a meter. The referee asks the fencer to retreat one meter from their current location. If the fencer leaves the strip as part of an attack, the referee asks the fencer to retreat one meter from where the fencer’s attack began.

What is a fencing strip made of?

The official rules for fencing don’t specify that fencing strips need to be made of a particular material. However, you will see two major varieties of fencing strips.

Painted or taped strips: Many local clubs — especially saber-only clubs — mark their strips with simple lines on the floor.

Grounded strips: Made of a conductive metal, grounded strips allow scoring machines to see the strip as a non-target. If a fencer compresses his or her tip on a grounded strip connected to a scoring box, the scoring box ignores the connection.

Those are the basics of fencing strips. Have a question? Ask it in the comments below.

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