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Contemporary fencing is the word used for modern sport fencing which is very different from the martial use of the sword (also known as western art of combat with the small sword); Sport fencing is also called olympic fencing which began in the end of the 19th century, with the Italian school having modified the "classical fencing", and the French school having later refined the Italian system.

Modern fencing uses three weapons, and so is divided respectively into three competitive scenes: foil, sabre (spelt "saber" in the United States) and épée. Most (but not all) competitive fencers choose to specialise in one of these only.

Competitive fencing is one of five activities which have been featured in every one of the modern Olympic Games, the other four being Athletics, Cycling, Swimming, and Gymnastics.