The 10 Commandments of Yelling in Fencing


Fencers like to debate about yelling in the sport and whether or not this is unsportsmanlike, whifferninnious conduct. The truth is, yelling is a part of fencing, and those who are offended by it are likely the same people who were tattle tailing on the playground until they were 18 years old.

Yelling in the right of way weapons (sabre and foil) is a way to assert confidence of a touch after a point.

Yelling in epee is a way of releasing the pent up tension associated with setting up a touch and scoring accordingly.

Good old fashioned yelling is not unsportsmanlike and is a big part of all three weapons. Almost all Olympians yelled, and the act of yelling is commonplace in elite level competition. However, there are certain kinds of yelling that there is no place for in fencing. Because, as intense as our sport is, at the end of the day, it is still a lady’s/gentleman’s game. So, without further ado, I present you the 10 commandments of yelling in fencing.

  1. Thou shall not yell in thy opponents face. If you score a touch, ye shall turn away from your opponent and yell, or if you have fleched by him, ye shall initiate your yell when you are far out of their ear shot.
  2. Thou shall never, ever, ever yell in practice. Most folks come in after a long work/school day to practice actions and socialize with teammates. Save the uber intensity for competition.
  3. Thou shall yell especially loud after scoring an epic touch (wrist flick, toe touch, back flick).
  4. Thou shall not utter any unsportsmanlike words or phrases such as “Who’s your daddy,” “What’s my name,” or “Your woman taste like honey nut cheerios” after scoring a touch. Besides unchivalrous whifferninny, this kind of conduct also falls under the rules of “disturbing the order of a bout” and could be subject to a card.
  5. Thou shall halt all yelling once ye have secured a 6-7 touch lead. You’ve probably figured things out by now and are controlling the bout. No need to continue the screaming.
  6. Thou shall not scream at any fencer who is in the “youth” age range. Because no one likes an whifferninny who screams at newly minted teenagers.
  7. Thou shall only yell in incoherent gibberish or Russian or you shall come across as assertive as pre-pubescent Justin Bieber.
  8. If your yell makes babies cry, then thou shall not yell. If your yell makes a grown man cry, yell louder. If you can break glass with your yell, then please shut up.
  9. Thy yell may never last more than 3 seconds, or one full lung of air, whichever is shorter.
  10. If you don’t play nice with the kids in the sandbox, the kids in the sandbox ain’t gonna play nice with you. So if you’re fencing a person universally accepted as a whifferninny, all commandments of yelling are null and void.

Bonus commandment: Jack Maes is exempt from all of these.

So there you have it. The 10 commandments of yelling. Share yours below.

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©Damien Lehfeldt “The Fencing Coach”

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27 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Yelling in Fencing

  1. In Number 4: Thou shalt not yell derogatory words in other languages as well as English… People do speak multiple languages in 2013.

    In Number 5: The reprise though is if an opponent returns to within 5 points, yelling is allowed. I have returned from a 13-2 pummeling in a Pom de Terre bout to win 15-14.

    Further, there is no ‘card’ against yelling; however, the only ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ card in fencing is a black card. The only question that a referee has to examine is whether the screaming or yelling is equivalent to say ‘kicking or throwing a mask across a room’, ‘the cursing out of a referee’ or ‘the refusal to shake hands after a bout’; all of which are black card events.

    If a referee tells a fencer to stop yelling in the face of an opponent, they can give a yellow or red card to a fencer for failure to follow the instructions of a referee or they can black card a fencer for unsportsmanlike conduct. Pick your poison.

    I am of the opinion that if you are yelled at in a bout, where your opponent is yelling into your face, then you should take off your mask and ask the referee if your opponent is performing an act of unsportsmanlike conduct. Also make note that you do not mind that someone is yelling, just that they are yelling in your face as an act that is disrespecting the sport rather than reinforcing their own feeble minded mental endurance.


    Drew Cohen

  2. “Disturbing order on the strip” is generally used for yelling that warrants a card without the ref wanting to throw the black card.

    1. The referee has all four varieties of card available to them.
      “Disorderly fencing” allows a group 1 penalty to be applied.
      “Vindictive Action” allows a group 2 penalty and annulment of the touch scored.
      “Disturbing order on strip” allows a group 3 penalty and to not annul the touch scored. This can be useful.
      “Unsportsmanlike conduct” or “Disturbing order on strip” allow a group 4 penalty.

      The referee should be aware which of these penalties will give the most appropriate outcome to the situation.

  3. You may wish to add, “And neither shall thou allow thy coach to scream at thy opponent. See thou again, ‘douchebaggery’.”

    Over and over I watch referees allow this, and each time I execute a profound metaphorical head-desk.

  4. “Thy yell may never last more than 3 seconds, or one full lung of air, whichever is shorter.”

    Once, while refereeing, I heard what seemed like an inappropriately long yell from about four strips behind me. Turns out the guy had blown out his knee.

  5. I got a RED CARD from James Bookwalter (Va. Div.) because I “yelled in his [my opponent’s] face”. I guess he considered it “disturbing the order on the strip,” but there were no cards prior to that and he never cited that offense. Nevermind that it was the first time I yelled in that bout and my opponent spent just about all of the bout prior to that yelling with every attack. He seems/seemed to loathe me (and my opponent, and everyone else around him) and the bout was thoroughly inconsequential, so I didn’t bother asking, “How did we go from no cards to a red card again?” because Whatever. He seems to enjoy being a jerk when he referees, so I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of an argument.

      1. Ref didn’t say “vindictive action” nor cite rule, just said yelling “in his face”… perhaps that is what he had in-mind, hard to say. Funny how opponent yelled a dozen+ times with no card. Convenient catch-all if ref wants to screw you, I guess.

  6. So true. Girls are especially obnoxious sometimes! Cadet Women’s? You don’t even know. Not only do they excessively yell – but then some of them do this pouting sore loser yell. Ew, rude.
    I scream at practice sometimes but its usually followed by laughing – its always a friendly intense bout.
    Love your blog – I want to visit DC soon!

  7. Reblogged this on Sask Sword and commented:
    The yelling that goes on in fencing was probably the most surprising thing to me when I watched my first fencing tournament. Here I thought it was a “gentile” sport, full of pomp and circumstance instead I seem to recall a lot of high pitch shrieks that pierced the ears and not in a dangly way. A lot of aggressive roars that made you wonder if someone had been gored or if Saskquatch had taken up fencing, and the occasional yip of a young fencer still learning the yelling ropes. For those youngsters (and their parents), I thought I’d share this blog on the 10 Commandments of Yelling in Fencing.

  8. Couple of comments:
    2. I would not say never ever. Sometimes in a practice competition, you need to raise the intensity to be able to give all you have, especially when you’re tired. A good yell might just do the trick. In normal practice, you would get a look from your teammates to let you know that you’re being ridiculous.
    6. I’d add an exception for those teenagers that are good enough to beat me. Then again, they are the least likely to be in any way intimidated by my shouts.

  9. This is 9 commandments too many. Just don’t be an a-hole and fence a good bout. Also girls shouldn’t be able to scream above a certain pitch level (a.k.a can’t be higher than horror movie screams).

  10. Heeheehee have a #4 story about my son.

    He’s in this DE and was getting blown out for the first 8 touches, but then started coming back. And back, and back. The other guy was just losing his mind. Eventually, he tied it up, but time ran out at 12-12. Uh-oh. Priority. The other guy gets priority. Ok, so then the ref starts the action and in a blinding series of actions we have….two lights. The other guy starts saying “YES YES YES! I got you now boy!” And takes off his mask and does this victory dance…but as it turns out, it wasn’t his touch after all. After the ref made the call, my son just said “No, no, no” and wagged his finger at him. The ref just laughed and laughed, because the other dude was, as you would suspect, a total douche.

  11. While I generally agree, some of the screaming is so forced that it’s ridiculous — high-pitched and never ending. And the parents should be forever banned from screaming.

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