The fencer whose number is called first should place himself on the right of the Referee, except in the case of a bout between a right and a left-hander, if the left hander is called first.
The Referee places each of the two fencers in such a way that the front foot of each is 2 metres from the centre line of the piste (that is, behind the ‘on-guard’ lines).
Fencers are always put on guard, whether at the beginning of the bout or subsequently, in the centre of the width of the piste. When placed on guard during the bout, the distance between the two fencers must be such that, in the on-guard position, with the arms straight and the blades in line, the points of the two blades cannot make contact.
After the scoring of a valid hit the fencers are put on guard in the middle of the piste. If no hit is awarded they are replaced in the position which they occupied when the bout was interrupted.
At the beginning of each period (in a direct elimination bout) and of any minute of fencing time, the fencers are placed on guard in the middle of the piste.
The fencers may not be replaced on guard, at their correct distance, in such a way as to place behind the rear line of the piste a fencer who was in front of the line when the bout was halted. If the fencer already had one foot behind the rear line, they remain in that position.
If a fencer has crossed the lateral boundaries of the piste, they may be put back on guard at the correct distance even if this places them behind the rear line and thereby causes a hit to be awarded against them.
Fencers come on guard when the Referee gives the order ‘On Guard’, after which the Referee asks, ‘Are you ready?’. On receiving an affirmative reply, or in the absence of a negative reply, the Referee gives the command for fencing to commence with the word ‘Play’.
The fencers must come on guard correctly and remain completely still until the command ‘Play’ is given by the Referee.