Fencing, also called Olympic Fencing, is a sport in which two competitors fight using 'rapier-style' swords, winning points by making contact with their opponent. Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship, the modern sport arose at the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the historical European martial art of classical fencing, and the French school having later refined the Italian system. There are three forms of modern fencing, each using a different style of weapon and different rules, and as such the sport is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, épée, and sabre. Most competitive fencers choose to specialise in only one weapon.
The nine classical parries comprise basic bladework. The first parry that most fencers learn is quarte, known commonly as "parry four". Parries are named for the line that they defend from attack: parry four would defend line four, which is the high inside line. Offensive bladework consists of the various means of scoring a touch on an opponent. The straight attack is a direct extension towards valid target. As it is easily defended against, fencers often use numerous feints to deceive their opponent into parrying and then disengage around the blade. As a preparation for an attack, fencers may execute a prise de fer, or attack on the blade. This includes the simple beat, a sharp rap on the opponent's blade, and the more complex bind, in which the fencer forces the opponent's blade to a different line.
In a fencing bout, a great deal depends on being in the right place at the right time. Fencers are constantly maneuvering in and out of each other's range, accelerating, decelerating, changing directions and so on. All this has to be done with minimum effort and maximum grace, which makes footwork arguably the most important aspect of a fencer's training regimen. In contemporary sport fencing defense by footwork usually takes the shape of moving either directly away from your opponent or directly towards him/her.
The most common way of delivering an attack in fencing is the lunge, where the fencer reaches out with his/her front foot and straightens his/her back leg. This maneuver has the advantage of allowing the fencer to maintain balance while covering far more distance than in a single step, yet allowing a return to the defensive stance.