Bladework is any action that uses the foil. Basic bladework includes extensions, parries and disengages.


An extension is the initial movement a fencer takes toward hitting his or her opponent. It is important to gradually extend the arm toward the opponent. Starting with the finger tips, fencers should move their arm in a straight line and hit their opponent, making the blade bend upward into an arc. If a fencer doesn't extend correctly, then he or she could end up "punching" the opponent. This is the equivalent of punching someone with their fist--except their now using a blade.


Parries are used to stop oncoming extensions. The fencer uses his or her blade to push the oncoming blade out of the way. There are four major parries: parry four, circle six, parry seven and parry eight.

Parry four

Parry four is the most common parry. Fencers move their hand directly across their chest--to the left if they're right handed and to the right if they're left handed. This is used to block attacks to the center of the chest.

Circle six

To complete a circle six, fencers move their blade in a small clockwise circle. It is important to control the blade with the fingertips and not the wrist. This is also used to block attacks to the chest.

Parry seven

Parry seven is completed when a fencer moves his or her arm across the body and turns the palm upward. This is used to block attacks to the farthest hip.

Parry eight

To complete a parry eight, fencers drop their hand slightly and move the blade outward. For right-handed fencers, that is down toward the right. Left-handed fencers move the blade toward the left. This parry is used to block attacks to the hip that is closest to the opponent.


Fencers combine disengages with extensions in order to avoid parries. There are two major disengages: disengaging around parry four and disengaging around parry six.

Disengaging around parry four

Since parry 4 is the most common parry, disengaging around 4 is the most typical disengage. Fencers must loosen the grip of their fingers on the blade and then regrip, slightly curling the blade in a clockwise motion. Keep the actions smaller by moving the blade with the fingers and not the wrist.

Disengaging around circle six

When disengaging around circle six, fencers still loosen and regrip the weapon with their fingers. However, this time they move counterclockwise.

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