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1.13 What is right-of-way?




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This article is from the Fencing FAQ, by Morgan Burke with numerous contributions by others.

1.13 What is right-of-way?

Right-of-way (or priority) is the set of rules used to determine
who is awarded the point when there is a double touch in foil or
sabre (ie. both fencers hit each other in the same fencing time).
It is detailed in the FIE Rules of Competition, Articles
t.56-t.60 (old 232-237) for foil, and t.75-t.80 (old 416-423)
for sabre.

The core assumption behind right-of-way is that a fencing bout is
always in one of three states:

-- nothing significant is happening
-- the fencers are conceiving and executing their actions
simultaneously
-- one fencer is threatening, while the other is
reacting to the threat

Since no points will be scored in the first situation, we can ignore
it. In the second situation, the fencers' actions have equal
significance, and it is impossible to award a touch. Both touches
will be annulled and the bout will be resumed where it was
stopped.

The third situation is the important one. The first fencer to
establish a threat has priority (right-of-way), even if the other
reacts by making a counter-threat. Any hit from the fencer with
priority takes precedence over a hit from the other. The job of
the referee is to decide which fencer did not have right-of-way,
and annul his touch. If he cannot decide, the referee should
abstain, annul BOTH hits, and resume the action where it left
off.

A proper threat can be either an attack (see question 1.14),
or a "point in line" (see question 1.16) that is
established before the opponent attacks.

Right-of-way is lost when the threat misses, falls short, is
broken off, or is deflected away from the target by a parry or
other engagement from the defender. The defender then has "right
of attack" for a split second; if he returns the threat
immediately, he takes over right-of-way and the tables have
turned. If he hesitates, however, it becomes a toss-up; the
first fencer to establish a threat will sieze the right-of-way
anew.

The right-of-way relationships between common fencing actions are as
follows:

- derobement has right-of-way over attacks on the blade
- attacks on the blade have right-of-way over the point in line
- point in line has right-of-way over the attack
- the simple attack has right-of-way over the stop-hit
- the stop-hit has right-of-way over the renewal of the attack
- the stop-hit in time has right-of-way over the compound attack
- the riposte has right-of-way over the renewal of the attack
- the counter-riposte has right-of-way over the renewal of the riposte
- the remise of the attack has right-of-way over the delayed riposte

 

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