Fencing Officials Commission

April 2014 Rulebook Now Available

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Mar 312014

As we mentioned in a prior post, the Board of Directors considered rules changes that had previously been adopted at the international level. The Board approved the rules changes for use in the US starting today, March 31st. As before, the Rulebook is available in a fixed layout (.pdf), as well as reflowable formats for various e-readers (.mobi for Kindle devices and .epub for all other e-readers). There is an updated Penalty Chart available as well.

Attention all referees! Please read regarding your current rating!

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Mar 192014

The Fencing Officials Commission needs your assistance. As per the USA Fencing Operations Manual, the FOC must maintain an up-to-date list of all Referee Ratings. This cannot be done without your help.

The list of all referee ratings can be found at http://foc.askfred.net/Referee/.

While the FOC has been maintaining the annual ratings increases and the ratings year for referees who are active at a national level, we have not, unfortunately, kept the referee list up-to-date for those referees no longer working, or no longer working at their rated level.

To rectify this situation, we plan to do the following:

On September 1, 2014 or soon thereafter, any referee with a rating year of 2010 or 2011, will have their rating level decreased by one level; for example, if the rating is a 5, it will be reduced to a 6.

Any referee with a rating year of 2009 or earlier will be evaluated, to see if they have worked within the last two years at a lower rated level. If the referee hasn’t worked at any level within the last four years, they will lose their rating for that weapon due to inactivity.

Be aware that your ratings may have to be changed to take into account the fact that you have not worked at your rated level for 2 or more years. For example, if a referee has a weapon rating of 5 or higher, but has not worked at a NAC for over 2 years, the rating is no longer appropriate, due to inactivity at the appropriate level. However, if the referee has worked locally or regionally at tournaments equivalent to a 6 or lower, the appropriate lower rating will be awarded, and the year updated, to reflect the activity level of the referee.

The FOC understands that there may be errors in this list, and we want to be very sure these records are correct before any ratings shown are changed or removed.

Please email Ratings@fencingofficials.org if you feel the information on the website is incorrect, especially in regards to the ratings year. If it is incorrect, to what should it be changed? Please give a detailed explanation as to why any rating should be changed, i.e. when and where did you last successfully work at, above, or even below the listed rating.

The detailed information required includes:
• The name of the tournament
• The date of the tournament
• The location of the tournament
• Competition worked (for example, Junior MF; Cadet WE; Vet 40 MS; Division 3 WS)
• Highest level worked (Pool round, DE round of 16, Semi-Final bout, Gold medal bout)
• Name of tournament Organizer and/or Referee Assigner

Remember, we want to get this right.

If you do not respond to this message, it will be assumed that our information regarding rating and year is correct, and we will act accordingly.

In all cases, the FOC needs your help to get this right, and your co-operation in this effort is greatly appreciated.

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 masks@fencingofficials.org.

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

Take our survey about refereeing!

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Nov 122013

The Fencing Officials Commission would like to understand the factors that are most important to our refereeing cadre. If you have a USA Fencing refereeing license of any level, please help us out by taking this short survey. It should take between 5-10 minutes to complete, and is completely anonymous. Once the survey is closed and we have a chance to analyze the data, we will post summary results here. Thank you for taking the time to help us improve refereeing throughout the US.


How referees are selected for National Tournaments

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Oct 072013

“Why was I not hired to be a referee?” That is a question that has been asked hundreds of times in our sport. The decision process for hiring referees by the USA Fencing’s Fencing Officials Commission is based upon many factors. In order to assist everyone in knowing and understanding this process, the main points that are carefully considered regarding the selection of referees are:

  • Availability for number of days (It is much preferred for a referee to arrive the evening before the tournament starts and be able to referee all of each day and until at least 5:30 pm on the last day. Referees who can work each day cost far less and provide more continuity than those who have more limited availability.)
  • Referee rating (Each tournament requires a different mix of levels of referees; some require a higher proportion of 1s, 2s and 3s; some permit us to use a greater proportion of 4s and 5s and allow us to use highly recommended 6s as well.)
  • Number of weapons a referee can officiate
  • Travel costs
  • The referee’s capability and willingness to properly apply all rules
  • Referee’s reputation for promptness
  • Referee’s reputation for cooperation
  • Ability to work well with others – be a team member
  • Task completion speed – efficient use of time at the strip
  • Sobriety
  • Respect for other officials, fencers, and spectators
  • Physical stamina
  • Work in a manner where the fencers are the main attraction, and the referee is but an adjunct to the performance.

If you have any questions, please contact the Domestic Assignment Committee member who is hiring the referees for each tournament.  For detailed information on individual tournaments, check the calendar.

Dates of Tournament

Who to Contact

October NAC 10/11-14 Fri-Mon

Sharon Everson: sharon.everson@fencingofficials.org

November NAC 11/8-11 Fri-Mon

Mary Frye: mary.frye@fencingofficials.org

December NAC 12/13-16 Fri-Mon

George Kolombatovich: george.kolombatovich@fencingofficials.org

January NAC 1/17-20 Fri-Mon

Mary Mahon: mary.mahon@fencingofficials.org

JO’s 2/14-17 Fri-Mon

Mary Frye: mary.frye@fencingofficials.org

March NAC 3/14-17 Fri-Mon

Mary Mahon: mary.mahon@fencingofficials.org

April NAC 4/11-14 Fri-Mon

George Kolombatovich: george.kolombatovich@fencingofficials.org

Summer Nationals 6/27-7/6 Fri-Sun

Sharon Everson: sharon.everson@fencingofficials.org

New FOC members appointed

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Oct 022013

At the September Board of Directors meeting, four new members were appointed to the FOC. Members are appointed for a four year term, and each year, 3-4 positions are filled. This year, the four referees appointed are Mary Frye, Peter Burchard, Derek Cotton, and Matthew Cox.

Mary Frye and Peter Burchard were re-appointed to the group for another four years. Mary has been an active member of the Rules Committee with expertise in epee, as well as working on the Domestic Assignments Committee and Ethics Committee. This year, she will also be working as the FOC Liaison to the Tournament Committee. Peter has been the international assigner for epee tournaments and also helps with international referee development. He also works with the Ethics and Communications Committees.

Derek Cotton is rejoining the FOC after a brief hiatus. Derek is no stranger to refereeing: he has refereed for the United States in two different Olympic Games, and also served on the international refereeing Arbitrage.

Matt Cox will be joining the FOC for the first time. Matt is primarily a saber referee and is one of our international referees being assigned to the highest level tournaments in the world. Matt has been appointed to fill the remaining one year of Damon Scaggs’s term, who resigned this summer.

NAC Availability Form Now….Available

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Sep 102013

Terrible pun aside, there is now an Availability Form so you can let us know which national tournaments you are interested in refereeing. It can also be found under the Calendar tab in the menu above. You can fill out the form at any time, and if information changes, just fill it out again. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no way for you to just update your prior choices; sorry about that. All of your responses will be forwarded directly to the Domestic Assignments Committee — the group who hires referees.

Just because you fill out a form does not mean you will get an invitation to referee. Please know that we did receive your information, but because of the number of people who want to referee nationally, we don’t have time to respond to everyone that is not hired.

Thanks for filling it out! Hope to see you on the circuit!

Information on new Youth DE Formats

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Sep 102013

With the new fencing season starting to gear up, there is one area that is already starting to see some rules changes: Youth fencing.  In June of this past year, the USA Fencing Board of Directors approved a change to the format of youth fencing tournaments: in particular, the direct elimination format.

Until this season, Youth-10 and Youth-12 direct elimination matches were fenced as the best 2 out of 3 encounters with each encounter going to 5 touches. Effective as of August 1, direct elimination matches have changed.

Y-10 events now end when a fencer reaches 10 points, or at the end of two 3 minute periods of fencing. The first period ends if a fencer reaches 5 points or if three minutes have expired, whichever comes first. There is a one minute rest in between each period.

Direct elimination bouts in Y-12 events are now the same as other standard direct elimination bouts; they last for 15 points or for three 3 minute periods.

One important result of the changes in these formats is that Non-combativity now applies to Y-10 and Y-12 direct elimination bouts. The application is the same as in other weapons.