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Understanding Fencing Penalties

Fencing Intro


Find a Fencing Club Kids Fencing Fencing Equipment Fencing Terms
Referee Signals Fencing Penalties Three essential skills of fencing Tips for Selecting a Fencing  Teacher Tips and Advice on Fencing Competitions
Equipment Care

Fencing Infractions

Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees to indicate that a player has committed an offence. In fencing, if a fencer breaks a rule then a card is handed out.  The color of the card shown to the fencer and the scorekeeper is based on the severity of the penalty or the number of minor penalties.  The color determines the penalty which will apply and penalties will range from minor to severe. The fencer can lose a bout because of penalty points.

Penalties in fencing

Penalty cards in fencing:

Yellow Card

If a fencer receives a warning for a minor offense, a yellow card is shown to that fencer and the score keeper.  The yellow card warning is valid for the remainder of the bout. Yellow cards are awarded for Category 1 penalties such as making bodily contact with the opposing fencer when not permitted, leaving the strip without permission, or refusing to obey the referee. A yellow card can also be awarded when, at the first call by the referee, a fencer does not present himself on the strip ready to fence.

Red Card

Repeated minor rule infractions, yellow card offenses, result in the fencer receiving a red card and his opponent receives a point.   Major rule infractions, penalties against safety or the order of the competition, can bring about a red or black card without the fencer ever receiving a yellow card warning.

Black Card

This is the result of two red cards or a very serious offense such as deliberate brutality, unsportsmanlike conduct, or using fraudulently modified equipment Black cards cause expulsion from the remainder of the competition and may result in follow-up disciplinary action by the fencer's governing body.



A complete listing of infraction and penalties is found in the USFA Rulebook.