Gear Up for Classical Foil: Purchasing Equipment

So you want to fence classical foil. That’s great, but as a beginner, purchasing equipment can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know what to buy when you’ve only had a few weeks of exposure to classical fencing and everything is new to you. Don’t worry; we’re here to help.

At Second Intent Fencing, equipment is provided to beginners. However, at some point you will want to buy your own. Whether you make this decision after a month, or after six months, here is what you’ll need:

Foil: You’ll need a dry or practice foil with a French grip. “Dry” means that it is not equipped to be used in electrified sport fencing. The grip is different for right handed fencers and left handed fencers, so make sure you get the right one. Standard guard is 110mm and there’s really no reason to get something different. While the grip must be a French grip, the grip covering is up to you. Either plastic or leather over wood is fine. You can get a good foil here.
Mask: The TCA 1990 mask is a good, affordable starting mask. No matter what mask you choose, we recommend you get one with a removable bib liner, as they are much easier to clean. (Tip: Get a spare bib liner so you can switch it out easily and take your time getting the other one washed.)
Glove: For classical foil fencing, you only need one glove, for your sword hand. It’s important that the glove is long enough to cover the sleeve of your jacket to prevent your opponent’s sword from going up your sleeve. You can get a leather glove or a synthetic washable glove. Epee and sabre gloves will have more padding; that isn’t necessary for foil, but there’s really nothing wrong with having it either. There is some flexibility in buying gloves; for foil you can have just one or a pair, any color, and we don’t really care if you use one with padding. The important thing is that it is the correct size, thus not affecting your grip on the foil, and covers your sleeve.
Jacket: This is where you’ll have a lot of choices: color, front or back zip, and with or without cuissard (the fancy name for that strap that goes between your legs). Your main choices are cotton back zip with cuissard, cotton front zip with cuissard, nylon front zip with cuissard, and tunic style (without cuissard). When picking your jacket, always remember that the base price of the jacket should not be more than $100. Pricier jackets are most likely in compliance with sport fencing regulations or for use in electrified fencing, neither of which apply at SIF. You will pay a little more for front zip, nylon, larger sizes, and no cuissard, but the base price should still be less than $100. In fact, none of the jackets I’ve posted here have a base price of more than $65.
Chest Protection: While men may choose to use chest protection, it is absolutely critical for women. Repeated thrusts to womens’ breast tissue can eventually cause lumps; as a result, chest protection is not optional for women at SIF. Your cheapest option is a pair of cups worn inside a sports bra to prevent moving with the jacket. However, we recommend getting something more substantial, such as the chest plate. You can also get creative, like a football rib protector modified to sit higher and cover the chest.

When purchasing your mask, jacket, glove, and chest protection, don’t assume you know what size you need. Make sure you follow the measuring instructions from the manufacturer or distributor. Triplette’s measuring instructions can be found here. In addition, while I’m sure you’ve noticed that the links provided here are for Triplette Competition Arms, they are certainly not the only source of equipment. I’ve provided these links because this is the equipment we have had the most experience with and we feel confident in recommending them. If you have any questions about this equipment, or other sources you find on your own, contact your instructor.

Please note that these recommendations are for fencers at Second Intent Fencing. Other clubs might have their own set of recommendations.

-Rebecca Boyd

"Although some of these actions may seem difficult to perform, none the less you should take care to practice them well, as all aid a man who heeds the points, lines, times, and measure that ultimately govern this activity."
Camillo Agrippa