Fencing is a sport with a long and rich history, and has been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games since the first in 1896. Modern fencing is divided into three distinct weapon categories: foil, epee, and saber. All three of these weapons are fought on a fencing strip that is 14 meters long and between 1.5 and 2 meters wide. Matches are usually fenced up to a set number of points, typically 5 or 15.
Foil is the oldest traditional weapon in the sport of fencing, and was used as a training weapon for duels. The weapons were "foiled" so that they were no longer sharp and were not lethal to the practitioners. In foil, a point can only be scored upon the torso. Foil also follows a right-of-way system, meaning that in the event of both fencers hitting each other simultaneously, the fencer who attacks first will be awarded the point.
In the 19th century, duels began to change slightly. In France and England duels started to more frequently be fought "to first blood" rather than to the death. All it would take to win a duel was a minor scratch. Because of this, non-lethal hits to the hand became more common and the epee was created. Unlike the foil, the guard of the epee was designed to help protect the hand from hits. In epee a touch can be scored anywhere on the body. Epee does not use a right-of-way system and in the event of both fencers scoring a touch simultaneously, both will be awarded a point.
Saber is derived from cavalry weapons, and as such is restricted to hits above the waist. A hit beneath the waist would hit the horse, not the duelist. Unlike the other weapons, a hit can be scored with the edge of the blade. Saber also uses a similar priority system to the foil.