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Fencing Championships to Bring Foils, Epees, and Sabres to MIT

By Jennifer Mosier
Associate Sports Editor

The 99th Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships will take place here tomorrow and Sunday. This is the oldest collegiate championship in the country - even older the the NCAA Championships - for this ancient sport.

Fencing has been practiced for centuries. The sport is nothing like the action you see on television or in movies - do not expect to see men in black leaping from a balcony with a weapon in each hand and a dagger between their teeth in formal competition.

Modern fencing uses three weapons, each with its own rules and tactics. Men compete in foil, epe, and sabre, while women compete in just foil and epe.

In the old days, the foil was traditionally the teaching or practice weapon. That heritage can be seen in the way the weapon is used today: The torso is the only valid target, and points are scored only with the weapon's tip. Score is determined by the rules of "right of way" and is judged by the director of the bout.

Epe is the descendant of the rapier, or dueling sword. The blade is larger and heavier, and the entire body - including the head, hands and feet - is a valid target. Although touches can be made only with the tip of the weapon, the point goes to the fencer that hits first.

Sabre is the modern version of the slashing and thrusting calvary sword. Touches are scored both with the tip and the sides of the blade; the target area is from the waist up, including the arms and head.

The IFAs are possibly the largest collegiate fencing championship tournament in the country, with nine schools represented and over 150 fencers competing.

Teams competiting include New York, St. John's, Brown, Columbia, Brandeis, Harvard, Cornell (women only), and Yale Universities, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT.

These teams represent some of the top fencing schools in the nation. This such a prestigious tournament that UPenn is missing its own regional NCAA qualifier in order to attend.

The team competition will take place tomorrow, while the individual competition will happen Sunday. Both events will be held in Rockwell Cage and DuPont Athletic Center.