FOC: Procedure & Guidlines

AHF Fencing Official’s Commission (FOC)

Procedure and Guidelines for Tournament Officials

I. Qualifications to become an AHF Tournament Official 

  • Must be a Classical and/or a Historical fencer and a member of the AHF.
  • Must be able to officiate with authority (strong and decisive)
  • Must demonstrate impartiality
  • Competence and Knowledge of Fencing
  • Must know the AHF rules and regulations
  • Have knowledge of fencing theory
  • Analyze a fencing phrase­

II. Requirements for becoming an Official


  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must attend AHF Judge’s clinic(s) prior to testing.
  • Must pass written and practical exams administered by the FOC


  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must be previously certified as a Judge and have experience judging at a minimum of two tournaments per weapon.
  • Must attend AHF Director’s clinic(s) prior to testing.

III. Experience

Judges need to have experience fencing but need no prior experience in judging to attend clinic(s) in preparation to test to become a judge.

Director of Combat certification is a multi-step process: One must test and be qualified as a judge prior to applying to test as a director. Once qualified as a judge, one must judge at a minimum of two tournaments per weapon and attend Director’s training clinic(s) before one can test.

IV. Testing Procedures

Judges and Directors must submit to a practical and written examination. The oral and practical exam is given equal consideration with the written exam. The participant’s score is determined by averaging the scores of both tests.

The written test for Judges shall consist of 25 questions. The candidate must pass by a score of 90% or more.

The written test for Directors of Combat shall consist of 50 questions. The candidate must pass by a score of 90% or more.

V. Instructors and Examiners Qualifications

Instructors for Official’s training must be AHF certified Directors with a minimum experience of directing 2 tournaments per each weapon category.

Examiners must be fencing professionals or Masters who are AHF certified Directors and have acted as instructors at a minimum of 3 clinics.

Instructors and Examiners must be current AHF Members.

VI. Responsibilities When Officiating


  • Judges are responsible for assisting the Director of combat during the tournament.
  • Must make calls without bias
  • Must announce decisions in a courteous manner
  • Must be decisive.
  • Set the example by acting in a professional manner
  • Must follow AHF procedure.
  • Must maintain a professional and courteous demeanor toward the other officials, fencers and spectators.
  • Must be timely in arriving at the tournament and on the piste or ring.

Four judges are responsible to watch for touches occurring during the assault, which they shall signal against the fencer who was touched by raising a hand and declaring in a loud voice “touch.”

A judge will signal if a fencer steps out of bounds by declaring in a loud voice “out of bound”.

The judges when polled by the director must respond with one of the following: “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” “insufficient penetration,” “off target,” “passe” (passed) “plaque” (flat), “mal paree” (insufficient parry) or “over steel.”

Directors of Combat

  • Must inspect weapons
  • Must follow AHF procedure
  • Preside over the judges
  • Set the example by acting in a professional manner
  • Appoint auxiliary personnel as needed for a particular tournament.
  • Control the fencers and spectators
  • Must maintain a professional and courteous demeanor toward the other officials, fencers and spectators.
  • Keep and maintain order on or around the strip or ring.
  • Must be timely in arriving at the tournament and on the piste or ring.
  • Presides over every assault.
  • Ensure that the combat proceeds smoothly and fairly.
  • Must see that the fencing is conducted in accordance to the rules and must halt any swordplay that, in his opinion, is unruly, patently unfair, and/or unsafe.

The Director of Combat is the sole interpreter of the rules.   Fencers may ask for a clarification to the director during the assault if a question arises. It is the director’s responsibility to give a clear and succinct explication to the fencer. Once the director has made his decision it is final.

Voting procedure

  • Judges shall have one vote each and the director shall have one and one-half votes.
  • A minimum of one and one-half votes is required to award or deny a touch in the classical weapons.
  • A minimum of two votes is required to award or deny a touch in historical weapons.
  • Points are scored against the fencer receiving the touch.
  • The fencer with fewest touches called against them shall be declared the winner.

VII. Scoring for Excellence of Technique

At any given tournament a separate panel of three judges shall determine the scores for technique and form. When scoring, the judges should observe that the fencers adhere to and are effective in utilizing classical technique and form. Each judge in the panel will award to each contestant in each bout a point value from 0 through 5 (0 being worst, 5 being best).

When a separate panel cannot be formed, the scores can be awarded in two manners. The director of combat must award the score for each fencer on his piste or ring, or the score shall be determined by a consensus of the officiating Director(s). In some instance the director can also have the judges assist in determining the score.

VII. Other Officials at AFH Tournaments

Tournament Director

The Tournament Director is responsible for running the tournament by following the procedure in place for running AHF tournaments. He takes his direction from the Rules committee and its sub-committee (competition planning) not the FOC.

  • The Tournament Director is responsible for the structure of the tournament.
  • Assigns time and score keepers.
  • Keeps track of points received, points given and technical points.
  • Follows the procedure put in place for tabulating the results: to determine the winners in both categories (winner of the tournament and winner for technique and form) or to determine the overall winner.
  • Is responsible for keeping the tournament running in a timely fashion.
  • Works with the Director and Judges to facilitate their responsibilities.

The choice of a separate award for technique and form is at the discretion of the tournament director for said tournament.

Copyright AHF January 2007

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