The lunge is the fundamental offensive fencing technique used with all three fencing weapons: foil, épée and sabre. It is common to all contemporary fencing styles.
A number of things happen at almost the same time during the execution of a lunge:
- The blade arm extends for the earliest possible arrival on the defender.
- The front leg kicks forward, with the heel barely skimming the floor.
- The back leg straightens powerfully and the back arm is forcefully thrown straight back, pushing the body explosively forward.
- The cut (sabre) or thrust (all three weapons) arrives on the defender.
- The front heel reaches its end and comes firmly into contact with the floor. The front leg absorbs the body's forward momentum as the front foot rocks forward to full contact with the floor, ending with the front knee directly over the heel and the front foot pointed straight ahead. The back arm, shoulders, hips, and the front thigh end up parallel with the floor in a stable and balanced position.
The lunge is the most basic and most important method of offensive scoring. It is fundamental to the attack, just as the guard is fundamental to the parry system. A lunge delivers the attack instantaneously and without any warning. It also allows time and a firm position for the fencer to recover safely in the event of failure.
The characteristic motion of the modern lunge traces its ancestry to European swordplay of the 16th and 17th centuries. Scholars of fence such as Egerton Castle attribute the first true lunging attack to Angelo Viggiani and his Lo Schermo of 1575 (the punta supramano, or "overhand thrust"). A simple advance or pass during the thrusting attack is common as early as the Royal Armouries Ms. I.33, roughly dated to the mid-14th century.
- Selberg, Charles A. (1993) The Revised Foil. ISBN 0-9638337-7-4
- Castle, Egerton (2005) Schools and Masters of Fencing : From the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century, ISBN 0486428265