Get your mask design pre-approved!

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Dec 202013

Although mask designs have been legal for some time, their popularity started to skyrocket with the introduction of Team USA’s mask with the United States flag on it. Up until recently though, in USA Fencing competitions, the legality of a mask design was left solely to Head Referee at an individual fencing competition. This made it challenging for fencers to know ahead of time if their mask would be allowed. In an effort to help fencers prepare for tournaments, this rule was recently changed. As can be found in the Board of Directors meeting minutes from September 2013 (page 6), the new rule is:

Masks may feature colored designs, on condition that they are approved by the Fencing Officials Commission at least 30 days before being used for the first time in an official USA Fencing competition OR at the discretion of the head referee. Fencers must submit pictures that clearly show the entirety of the design. Accepted designs will be posted on the Fencing Officials Commission website.

The hope is to provide an alternative method of ensuring that mask designs will be legal prior to a tournament. This rule will be incorporated into the next version of the rulebook. Approved designs can be found posted on our website and fencers interested in having their mask designs approved should email pictures of their mask to

Summary of Rules Changes for International Competitions

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Dec 062013

UPDATE 12/13 5:34 PM – FIE has released the official decisions of the Congress. These decisions only affect international fencing, and do not affect USA Fencing. The decisions can be found here.

Original post below.

This past weekend, the 100th Congress of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) took place in Paris, France. The agenda of each Congress is determined partially by the current year of the Olympic Quadrennial; last year’s agenda focused on electing a new group of commission members. This year’s agenda focused on the rules of fencing. In total there were 75 proposed rules changes, some with wide ranging implications.

Although the FIE has not released the official decisions of the proposals yet — hopefully that will happen in the next few weeks — we are fortunate that the chair of the FOC, Sam Cheris, was present at the Congress. Based on his notes, the unofficial results of the proposals can be found below. The text of the proposals can be found here.

The most important thing to remember is that at the present time, these are decisions that only affect international fencing, mostly as of January 1, 2014. No rules changes have yet taken effect for USA Fencing competitions. The process for changing USA Fencing rules first starts once FIE makes public the English translation of their rules. After this, the FOC will review the international rules changes and make recommendations to the Board of Directors about whether or not the US should adopt them, including recommended implementation dates. The Board will then consider them at its Board meeting.

Some highlights of rules changes at the international level:

  • In foil, beats on the lower third of the blade will now be considered parries by the opponent.
  • Absence of blade contact will no longer be a criteria for non-combativity.
  • There will be no penalty for simple corps a corps for foil and saber, but the referee still calls Halt.
  • Visor masks will be forbidden in all weapons (Effective March 1, 2014).
  • Insulting a referee will be an immediate Group 4 offense (Black card).
  • Foils and epees must be made of maraging steel for FIE competitions based on SEMI Commission safety concerns.

We will post more information as it becomes available, and will post updates as USA Fencing considers adopting these rules for domestic competitions.

Executive Committee Proposals

1o.31Approved with Rules Comm amendmentPools/Schedule publication
2o.43Approved with Rules Comm amendmentJunior Team WC
3o.45-o.47ApprovedJunior Team WC
4o.54ApprovedJunior Team WC entries
5o.62ApprovedJurisdiction of various appeals
6o.75ApprovedJunior Team WC
7o.82ApprovedJunior Team WC
8o.84ApprovedJunior Team WC
9o.86Approved with the Euro as only currencyFines/Penalties for late registration
10t.82ApprovedBlack card for insults
11t.87.3Approved with original textThrowing equipment
12t.90Approved with Rules Comm amendmentTeam events Team Captain's right to approach DT/ref
13t.92Approved with Rules Comm amendmentCoach approaching during 1 minute break
14t.95.4ApprovedDelete guaranty requirement
15t.106ApprovedExclusion terminology
16Referred to working group for further studyDuration of relays in team events
17Referred to working group for further studyDuration of DEs
18Referred to working group for further studyDuration of pools

Rules Commission Proposals

1t.15.2ApprovedPenalty for practicing without equipment
2t.20ApprovedNo penalty for simple corps a corps
3t.21.3ApprovedGoing past an opponent
4t.22.2ApprovedRemove “Abnormal movement” from covering target
5t.26.1Approved with COMEX wordingCrossing lateral boundaries
6t.32.4ApprovedWireless lights after end of bout
7t.39ApprovedReferee delegate assist referee assignment
8t.54.1ApprovedDelete m.27/28 reason for annulment
9t.56.4ApprovedBeats on lower third of foil are parries
10t.70.3Approved as modified by Rules CommForbidden to strike with guard
11t.87.2ApprovedForbid anti-sporting behavior
12t.87.4.2ApprovedDelete absence of blade contact from Non-Comm
13t.120.1.2ApprovedUpdate table about corps a corps
14t.120.1.19Approved with Rules Comm amendmentClarify special yellow card for whole team match
15t.120.3.5ApprovedUpdate table about warming up without equipment
16t.120.3.6ApprovedUpdate table about anti-sporting behavior
17o.70.4Approved with Rules Comm amendmentNumber of neutral referees needed

SEMI Commission Proposals

1Annex AApprovedRandom quality control of fencing equipment
2COMEX to add to HandbookVolunteers for weapon control
3Annex AApproved for foil/epeeBan simple steel blades in epee/foil (Maraging Steel only)
4COMEX to revise admin rulesNeed for SEMI at regional games
5Annex AApproved as amended by SEMIOccasional control of blades
6Annex AApproved with Rules Comm amendmentFatigue testing of blades

Medical Commission Proposals

1m.2.1.2Approved modified text (3/2014)Ban visor masks until protocol developed

Sam Cheris’s Proposals

1o.55Approved with Rules Comm amendment (3/2014)Power of Attorney

Peter Jacobs’s Proposals

1o.15.3.bApprovedOrder of bouts as in o.14

British Federation Proposals

1t.45ApprovedNeed for two mask wires
2t.71ApprovedSaber target
3m.34.1ApprovedSaber target
4t.120ApprovedText clarifying that the table is a summary
5t.120ApprovedFootnote about awarding black card immediately
6m.27.3ApprovedTolerance of coiled mask cords
7m.28.1ApprovedFoil lame requirements only while On Guard
8m.25.4DeferredJacket requires double lining

German Federation Proposals

1m.2.1.2Approved as in Medical ProposalBan visor masks until protocol developed

Hungarian Federation Proposals

1Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
5commission and councils to prepare consensus proposalNon-Combativity
6commission and councils to prepare consensus proposalNon-Combativity
7commission and councils to prepare consensus proposalNon-Combativity
8commission and councils to prepare consensus proposalNon-Combativity
9Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
10Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
11Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
12Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
13Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
14Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
15Addressed in Adminstrative Rules
16p.12Favoral concept - specific proposal to comeSurface area for logos on uniform
17Referred to working group for further studyReconsider the rules of foil

Iranian Federation Proposals

1o.43-47Not ApprovedZonal Championship format
2t.120.1.7ApprovedAsterix for crossing the lateral boundary to avoid being hit
3t.120.1.10ApprovedReference updated
4t.120.2.5ApprovedAsterix for deliberate hit not on opponent
5o.14-15Approved - effective season 2014-15Bout orders for tournaments
6o.83.1Not ApprovedPoints standing for those tied in ranking

Russian Federation Proposals

1Referred to working group for further studyOk to cross rear boundary
2Referred to working group for further studyDirect elimination format best 2 of 3
3o.27.2Approved with Rules Comm amendmentFinals held on same day
4Referred to working group for further studyTeam match substitutions
5Referred to working group for further studySaber timing changes

USA Federation Proposals

1Commissions and councils to develop consensus proposalCrossover in saber
2Commissions and councils to develop consensus proposalNon-Combativity