Presiding difficulties, conflicts and resolutions

When fencers present themselves at competitions, they are often nervous and apprehensive. It takes one or two bouts usually for many to come to terms with the uncertainties and the fear of looking foolish, or not doing their best etc. It is most important that the person presiding over these contests has the following qualifications;

·         Experience

·         Knows the rules and the interpretations

·         Understands fencing time

·         Is decisive and accurate and

·         Has a full understanding of priority and right of way

There are three main areas of confusion that is generated by some Presidents in the sport of fencing. If we accept that in our local and state level there is no evidence of bias the three problems areas can be identified;

1.       Simultaneous attack

2.       Attacks into attacks

3.       Attacks on preparations

Simultaneous Attacks

For a simultaneous attack to take place, two people need to conceive of an action exactly at the same precise second with the same priority and exactly the same choice of time with the lights registering appropriately. A true simultaneous attack is therefore rare. Unfortunately a simultaneous attack is too often called when presidents cannot sort out actions from both fencers that result with a coloured light and fencers are called to halt and put back on guard. It is important to realise that this inaccurate call is not fair. In most cases one fencer is denied a point that he or she has won whilst the opponent has been awarded a point that is not deserved.


Attacks into Attacks

What appear to be simultaneous attacks to inexperienced presidents is in fact an attack into an attack. One fencer initiates that attack and the opponent in response tries to beat him or her to it. Experienced presidents know instinctively from which end the attack is initiated.


Attacks on Preparations

The third area of confusion is separating and recognising attacks from preparations of attack. For example, a step forward is a preparation, not an attack!

Often fencers step forward, hesitate momentarily in their resolve and then stick out their arm when the opponent legitimately attacks on that hesitation. If the attack is compounded with the step forward, is continuous and no arm withdrawals, (redoubles), then the attack has to be paid.


In any event the fencers must understand the theory and when presiding they must develop skills in anticipation, reading the play and decision making.

Fencers can be disappointed about a loss, but philosophical if they were “out fenced”. However we are at great risk of them becoming discouraged as a serious result of poor decision making, haphazard arbitration and indecision from referees.


Presiding is a very difficult role. It takes time, training and experience to become competent. Queensland Fencing is bright and motivated; we are growing stronger each year. “Near enough” is not good enough if our aim is to become Australia’s premier fencing state.


(c) Maitre d’Armes Michael A. O’Brien 2/07/2008


~ by obrienfencing on 2 July, 2008.

One Response to “Presiding difficulties, conflicts and resolutions”

  1. Gidday Mr OBrien,

    Its Sue here, (your old squash buddy). I have lost your number and wanted to say hello. Guess who is living in our street, (Nikolas has taken a shine to the girls)?….. Mitzy and her family.
    I would love to organise a catch-up and you are welcome to come and visit, (or us visit you)

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