In fencing, the body is separate into a parallel and perpendicular line that helps understand the sections for both defense and attack. Each of these sections has particular attack and defense moves designed to hit the areas of the body. In foil, the attempt is to claim the right-of-way and then hit the particular section for a point. The schematic presented in this article can be used to visualize areas of the body in foil, epee and saber.
The intersection of these four imaginary lines starts where the blade leaves the weapon. As the weapon moves so does the size of the four areas. It works similar to a tracking target that moves up, down, to the side, or wherever the opposing person places their blade. Yet as the cross-hairs move each section becomes smaller or larger. It is these large open areas that often receive the most attention for a possible attack.
The vertical line separates the body from inside and outside. The inside line is the front of the body and the outside line is the outside of the body. As the weapon moves from its center of axis to the left or the right of the body the inside line and outside line change size and thus its opportunity for a counter strike. For example, a weapon moved further to the inside of the body leaves a larger area for an attack on the outside of the body.
The horizontal line creates a high side and a low side. The high side is the upper part of the body and the low side is the lower area of the body. As the opponent moves his blade into the upper side, it is usually advantageous to seek an opening for a strike on the lower side. Likewise, when the blade moves to the lower side of the body it is beneficial to strike at the upper part of the body.
Together the four quadrants can further be divided with experience into sub quadrants for tracking the movements of the blade. As you can see in the chart, there are eight such sub quadrants areas that can be used for practicing movements of the blade for defensive or attacking positions. The more skill one obtains the less random poking that occurs and the higher levels of strategic maneuvers become possible. For example, if the opponent moves their blade upwards you can quickly counter and move to a downward quadrant. If your opponent moves their blade to the lower inside quadrant you can attack on the upper outside quadrant.
Fencing is a game of refinement and quick-paced precision. In many other sports the pure power of the body is used to obtain points by bulldozing through a line of people (i.e. football) with strength or winning through endurance (i.e. running and jumping). In fencing, the attacks and defenses are refined to a pin point requiring quick perception of movement and body mechanics to both defend and attack appropriately and deliberately. If you watch a professional fencing match it can be difficult to follow the swoosh of the blades. Fencing can be used as an augmentation of skill development for other sports by creating higher levels of focused perception and refinement of body movement.