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Insights into the world of fencing and thoughts on life

  • Writer's pictureKate

Fencing Newbie: How do I put on sabre competition gear? And how do I hook up on the fencing strip?

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Now that you’ve taken a few classes, it’s time to don the competition gear and get out on the strip to try out your skills! But now there are MORE names to remember and just where does the body cord go anyway? Read on to find out…

Note: most of these items go on OVER your practice whites. Yes, that’s a lot of layers to wear but, remember, it’s all about keeping you safe while your having fun stabbing…. errr…. slashing….. ummm…. fencing your friends.


Ah, yes. The knickers. The lovely fencing knickers. The pants that make almost everyone look and feel like a dork. They’re supposed to fit just below your knees; with kids they are almost as long as a pair of regular pants. Couple them with a pair of knee-high socks (which can be any color but most fencers gravitate toward white ones) and you are an instant fashion plate. This is the piece of gear that you actually put on first–the suspenders go under your plastron.

Head cords

These are head cords. They come in two kinds: curly and straight. Most fencers prefer one kind over the other, for some reason, but both are equally good. I am in the straight camp. Curly reminds me on those old-timey cords that used to trap me in the living room during very important teenage phone conversations. Clip one end of your head cord to the tab on the back of your lame.

Body cord

This is a body cord. The smaller of the two plugs needs to run up the sleeve of your lame on your weapon side. More about that in a minute. Let the alligator clip and the larger clip dangle as you put on your lame.

Alligator clip on cord

Alligator clip

Body cord big plug

Big plug that will come in handy in a later step.

Body cord weapon plug

The plug that goes through your sleeve.

With the cord running up your sleeve, now put on your lame. Like your jacket, it can be a front or a back zip. Follow the “pointy part” rule (see previous “Newbie Fencer” post Newbie Fencer: How do I put all this practice gear on again?) to figure that out.


The lame on the right is a front-zip (preferable); the one on the left is a back-zip.


Put your glove on the outside of your lame sleeve, then cover it with a cuff.

Glove cuff combo

Sometimes sabre fencers get an all-in-one glove/cuff combo that looks like this. The young fencers at our club call this a “gluff”. Fencer humor is weird.

Clip the other end of your head cord to your mask. Make sure you are using an all-silver, metallic one and not a black-and-white practice mask.

Cords connected to lame and reel

Connect the alligator clip to the bottom edge of your lame on your weapon side. Then connect the big plug that’s dangling behind you to the reel of the fencing strip. Close the retaining clip so it will stay in place. Connect the small plug that you ran up your sleeve to your sabre. There you go! All ready to fence!

Here’s a video to help you remember all of the above information:

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