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Trinity College Dublin



Safety Information

As you probably know, fencing as a sport originated from the practice of duelling, in which the aim was to gain/sav e honour by harming or killing your opponent. Obviously the aim of fencing is slightly different these days in that we would like all our Freshers to be able to come back next year with arms and legs intact! For that reason many safety guidelines and regulations have been laid down for fencing over the years. These can be as basic as never attacking someone with their mask off or as specific as the level of protection you should wear to an FIE competition.

>Remember that you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of those around you. There's always a Safety Officer on duty in the Sport's Centre if ever needed.

The basics:

A lot of this is common sense and fairly obvious.

  • Never attack someone while either your opponent or yourself (in case they instinctively react with sword in hand) are not fully kitted up i.e. wearing a mask and jacket etc.
  • Don't swing your sword around, especially if there are other people standing around you. Never run with a sword when not fencing. This is obvious but just to emphasise it.
  • Be careful when putting on masks, bending down to pick anything up etc. Don't put your weapon over your shoulder or under your arm with the tip sticking out, either when walking or even just standing still. Always leave the weapon on the floor out of the way, or hold it vertically with your tip down, when not actually fencing.
  • Don't fence with broken equipment, either protective gear, weapons or electrical equipment. Take it to our club armourer Ali or an experienced fencer if you're not sure or if it's not working.
  • Use your head. You know yourself what is and isn't safe.


Protective gear has been developed over the years to ensure that we are as safe as possible when fencing. Here's a quick explanation of each item you will be using. ** indicates the most important things needed while training. Never fence without them.

*Jacket*: protects your body above the waist. Their main function is actually to protect you from broken blades if your opponent's weapon is snapped in two. Don't worry, this is quite rare!

*Mask*: protects your face and the exposed side of your head. It may be a weird feeling at the start to have all that gauze in front of your face but you'll be used to them in no time

Underplastron: worn under your jacket, extra protection for your body

*Glove*: left or right handed for your weapon hand

*Breast protectors for ladies*: fit into those pockets on the inside of your jacket

Breeches: < (worn with white knee high socks) for leg protection, especially useful for epee and they look pretty cool too!


Most protective clothing can be broken into two categories those which will withstand 350N of force and those that withstand 800N of force. The FIE (for international standards of fencing) has particular regulations regarding the level of protective clothing you need to wear. For IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation) competitions in Ireland you don't need to comply with the higher standards. This means that 350N jackets, plastrons and breeches will be acceptable, whereas for FIE competitions only 800N jackets, plastrons and breeches can be worn (these are more expensive than the 350N equivalent). Masks need to be 1600N for FIE competitions but also come in 350N standard for non-FIE competition. Gloves generally withstand 350N of force.

- Eilis Carroll