Fencing is an exciting and challenging sport that developed from the tradition of duelling over honour. There are three disciplines: foil, epée, and sabre.
Foil and epée emerged from the art of the rapier, which used only the point to hit an opponent with a thrust. Beginners were trained with a thinner, lighter version of the weapon, with a focus on accurate hits most likely to inflict a fatal or disabling wound. This developed in to the foil, in which hits must be scored on the torso. The “real” duelling weapon which foil was the training version of became the epée; in this weapon, a hit anywhere on the body is valid.
The sabre emerged from the cavalryman’s duel. Cavalry sabres use slashing attacks with a single-edged sword, but in a cavalry duel an opponent hit on the leg can still ride and fight. Therefore in the modern sport of sabre, the target is from the waist upward.
All three disciplines are high-energy sports which will give you a very thorough workout! Foil and sabre are particularly quick, whilst epée places more emphasis on predicting your opponent and siezing the right moment; epée fights tend to be a little slower and longer-lasting.
Fencing is one of only four events which has been included in every modern Olympics. It also has a wheelchair version of every weapon which features in the Paralympics!