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 Fencing Rules - Duration of a Bout 
  1. Duration of a Bout


Duration of the bout is held to mean the effective duration, that is the total of the intervals of time between the orders ‘Play’ and ‘Halt’. Thus the time taken for stops is not counted.

The duration of the bout is registered by the Referee or by a time-keeper. For the finals of all official competitions, as well as for all bouts for which a chronometer is visible to the spectators, the chronometer must also be so placed that it is visible to the two fencers on the piste and to the Referee.

The effective duration of a bout is:

  • For pools, 5 hits, maximum 4 minutes

  • For direct elimination bouts, 15 hits, maximum 9 minutes divided into 3 periods of 3 minutes, with one minute’s pause between any two periods.

  • For team matches, 4 minutes for each lap or bout


The fencers may ask how much time they have left to fence each time the fencing is interrupted.

Any fencer who attempts improperly to cause or to prolong interruptions to the bout is penalised as specified in Articles t.114, t.116, t.120 Offences and Penalties.


At the expiry of the regulation fencing time, if the clock is linked to the scoring apparatus (obligatory standard for finals of official FIE competitions), it must set off automatically a loud audible signal, and automatically cut off the scoring apparatus, without cancelling hits registered before the disconnection. The bout stops with the audible signal. If the clock is not linked to the scoring apparatus, the time-keeper must shout ‘Halt’ (or operate a sound signal) which stops the fight; in this case even a ‘coup lancé’ is not valid.

Should there be a failure of the clock or an error by the time-keeper, the Referee must estimate how much fencing time is left.

FIE  t.30-32