These pages have been created from material presented to a refereeing seminar given by Keith Smith at Bristol, Sept 1998 (and later at Kingston Fencing Club). The pages have been photocopied, scanned then OCR'd (converted to text by charcter recognition). There will inevitably be errors which were not present in the original.
Sabre Refereeing Hints
It is absolutely vital that all those who wish to referee sabre do so regularly and at a good level. The top sabreurs now make great use of breaking the distance and scoring with tempo hits rather than the more traditional parries.Your regular refereeing at competitions will help to gain the confidence of the fencers.
1. Stand where you can see the fencers and the box. With advent of electric sabre this is vital. Try to stand a reasonable distance from the piste as it gives you a better sense of the "tempo hits".
2. Recognise who initiates the attacking action. Usually one fencer does start before the other and this fencer should get the hit.
3. The point in line is valid if it is in line before the attacker starts the attack and is in the high line, hits with the point and the arm is not bent at any time or the point taken away from the valid target. The line is potentially a risky move for a fencer and most sabreurs accept this. The line is valid going forwards, standing still or retreating. However, the fencer with a line who steps into an attack is taking the risk that his line will be misinterpreted as a counter attack with the line. It can be a tricky decision.
4. Any pause in the attack allows the opponent to take the right of way. For the opponent to score over the initial attack then his hit must arrive one period of fencing time in advance of the attackers. Foreign International Referees are much stricter about this than the vast majority of British referees.
5. Watch the speed of the hand. International referees will reward the faster hand if the two fencers appear to attack simultaneously.
6. Pris de fer or attaque au fer on the bottom of the opponents blade are not valid and are counted as parried. However, this is difficult to spot at speed, especially when the defending fencer is doing this move going backwards to try to take away the right of way of an attack.
7. Try to differentiate between compound attacks and two successive but fast attacks.
8. Do watch very closely to see if an attacking action actually hits first time, or does it need another hand action to score the hit? If it does the counter action may well be valid.