The sport of fencing evolved from the military practice of sword fighting. The main adaptation in the 1700s was the flat foil blade, which allowed for less harmful dueling. The foil blade combined with the mesh mask and a rulebook defining where could be hit on the body blossomed fencing into an official sport. Fencing has been in the Olympics since 1896.
There are three fencing disciplines practiced today, foil, épée, and saber. The main difference between each type besides the actual weapon is the target area of the body. In foil, the fencer must hit their opponent's torso only, and the blade is easy to wield. For épée, the entire body is free to hit, but the sword itself is more massive. Lastly, in saber fencing, a touch anywhere above the waist is acceptable. In saber, the sword is similar to that of a cavalry militia.
To ensure the correct part of the body is hit for foil and saber, fencers wear a lamé that denotes the target area.
Each bout begins with two opposing fencers lined up facing each other on a piste. The athletes move forward and back, attempting to strike their opponent while not being hit themselves.
Points are awarded for each hit or slash, depending on the sword type, as indicated by a light and sound that occur due to the target areas and blades being electronically sensitive.
Olympic matches are a best of three series with each bout lasting three minutes. The first fencer to 15 points or whoever has the most points when the clock runs out of time is the winner.