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Wheelchair Fencing

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Wheelchair fencing was developed in 1954 by Sir Ludwig Guttman as a sport for paraplegic spinal cord injury patients. In 1960, it was added as a sport in the Paralympic Games. Currently 26 countries have wheelchair fencing athletes in the Paralympics. The sport is very similar to able-bodied fencing however the participants are in wheelchairs that are fastened to the floor in a fencing frame to permit the upper body freedom of movement necessary without tipping the wheelchairs. One of the fencer’s hands is used for the foil and the other hand is used to hold the wheelchair.


Athletes are divided into one of three categories depending on their level of impairment.

Class A is for athletes with full trunk movement and good balance

Class B is for athletes with no leg movement and impaired trunk movement and balance

Class C is for athletes with impaired ability in all four limbs

Currently only classes A and B are recognized in the Paralympics but class C is still recognized in Regional and World Championships.

Playing Area

The playing area for wheelchair fencing is defined by a metal frame to which the competitor’s wheelchairs are fastened to prevent them from tipping. The distance between the two athletes is determined by the fencer with the shortest arms.


No special chair is required for wheelchair fencing, however the chairs must meet certain size and proportion standards. Athletes are permitted to be strapped to the wheelchairs. Additionally, fencers without the proper hand dexterity may have the foil secured to their hands.


The rules for wheelchair fencing are the same as the rules for able-bodied fencing. The fencers score points by touching their opponent in target areas. The first fencer to score 15 points is the winner. The number of points necessary to win is sometimes reduced in preliminary rounds of competition to expedite advancement. Similar to able-bodied fencing, there are three catagories: foil, epee and saber and both team and individual events.