The Epee

The epee is a one-handed thrusting weapon. It is the primary weapon used in the modern sport of fencing. The word ‘epée’ means ‘sword’ in French, and it was invented in response to the use of sabers and other heavy swords that were being used in 19th century dueling. Even though many people think that fencing as we know it today originated in medieval times, the truth is that it was popularized by 19th century gentlemen as a way of practicing swordplay without risking their lives.

The epee is one of the three weapons used in modern competitive fencing. The others are foil and saber. These three weapons have been standard since 1893 and are called so because they use their own target area – foils target the right side of the body above the belt (a vest or jacket with no protection over that area) while the epee and saber target only the left side of the body below the belt.

Fencing has been around for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until after World War I that modern competitive epee emerged as we know it today. Let’s take a look at how this happened…

What’s the difference between foil, saber and epée?

Foil and Sabre represent different styles of fencing, and each weapon is unique in its own way. The foil is a light weapon that’s used to touch the opponent’s body with a thin blade. The epee, on the other hand, is a heavier weapon with a French-style curved guard. The sabre is in between, and has a straight guard.

Epee Basics

The epee is a thrusting weapon, as opposed to the foil and saber’s parry/slash mechanism. It is also the heaviest of the three weapons, weighing in at 800 grams (about 1.76 pounds) and using a length of up to 120 centimeters (47 inches). The epee is a non-Olympic weapon. The target area for all weapons is above the waist and below the armpits. But the epee’s target area is smaller than the foil and saber. This is because heavy clothing would make the weapon’s target area too large. Whereas light clothing makes the foil’s target area too small.

Why the change from heavy swords to epees?

Given that epee as we know it didn’t even exist until the late 19th century, it’s only fitting that we first explore the rise of the foil and saber and how those weapons replaced heavy swords in the first place. Fencing was already popular in the late 19th century, but what it mainly consisted of was fencing with heavy swords. These swords, which included the rapier, the broadsword, and the saber, required much more skill than fencing with smaller, lighter swords. Fencing with heavy swords could be very dangerous, and this is why the sport was largely abandoned in the early 20th century. People wanted a more skill-based alternative to dueling, and the Parisian Fencing Master Jacques-Louis Recco created a new weapon in response to the heavy sword: the epee.

The Birth of the Epee: The Parisian Blueprint

The epee has a long history, and many of the weapons that preceded it were precursors to the modern epee. The first efforts at making a lighter fencing weapon were made by the French in 1876, when they attempted to replace heavy swords with light foils. This was done by adding light, spring-loaded metal strips to the blades. This early version of the foil was very different from the light weapon that we have today. The spring-loaded metal strips on the blades were heavy and cumbersome, making them more like rapiers than the light foils found in competitive fencing today. This construction was modified in 1887 with the invention of a metal button on the tip of the blade.

Epee Development After the Blueprints

The epee as we know it today was popularized in the 1890s. The French Fencing Federation made several modifications to the weapon, including reducing the size of the bell guard, shortening the length of the weapon, replacing the button on the tip of the blade with a rubber button, and changing the grip from one-sided to two-sided. The French also modified the way that epeeists wore their jackets. Instead of wearing heavy clothing, they began using a special jacket made from very light fabric. This jacket would make the target area smaller, and it would also be worn only on the left side of the body. The last modification to the epee came in 1921 when the French Fencing Federation declared that the target area for all weapons would be above the waist and below the armpits.

Modern Epee Equipment and Techniques

The target area for the epee is above the waist and below the armpits. The weapon is unique in that its blade diameter is larger than the target area, making it easier to hit the target. The target area is protected by a flexible wire mesh called a lame. The lame protects the target area from being pierced by the blade, but it does not protect from a dull hit. The epee uses a different grip than foil or saber. The hand is placed on top of the weapon with the thumb placed on the back of the hand for a reversed grip. The epee is the heaviest one-handed fencing weapon, weighing in at 800 grams.


The epee is a unique weapon that has been used in fencing for more than 100 years. It is the heaviest of the three weapons used in competitive fencing. The other two are the foil and saber. The epee is used mostly by advanced fencers, while foil and saber are used by beginners and intermediate fencers. The epee has a larger target area than the foil and saber, and it has a larger blade diameter. The epee is a thrusting weapon, and it is used to score points by making contact with the opponent’s lame.