Engagement means simply the crossing of the opposing blades. They need not be actually touching.
Disengagement is when one blade is withdrawn from the other for the purpose of thrusting at a part of the opponent's body other than that which it originally threatened.
The lunge is the forward extension of the foil for the making of a direct thrust.
The riposte is a short, quick return thrust following immediately upon a successful parry.
The remise is the presentation of the point to the opponent who attempts a riposte.
A parry is the putting aside of the opposing attacking blade, either by a bearing on the blade, known as "opposition," or by a beat. Simple parries are described by the same terms used in connection with simple attacks.
A beat is a sharp, but not heavy, blow upon the opposing foil. Its'purpose is to get the opposing blade out of the way. It should be made entirely by the action of the fingers upon the hilt.
Forte and Foible. The forte is that half of the blade near the hilt; the lower half is the foible.
The line is the direction along which would travel the point of the foil when thrusting at any part of the opponent's body.
There are two lines - high line and low line. High line is above the waist, low line is below the waist.
Both high line and low line are divided into inside and outside, outside indicating the fencer's right, and inside her left. There are thus four lines (the old practice of admitting eight lines has been long abandoned): high line outside, which refers to the upper right side of the fencer; low line outside, meaning the lower part of the fencer's right side; high line inside, the upper part of the left side of the body; and low line inside, the lower part of the left side.
A line is said to be closed when defended by the opponent's foil, and open when this is not so. It is obvious that both high lines or both low lines cannot be closed, or defended, at the same time. The fencer's blade cannot at once be covering both sides of the upper or of the lower part of the body.
Really they are quite simple terms used to express two of the four recognised lines along which an attack or defence may be made.
For the purpose of reducing the use of the foil to an exact science, it was accepted that there should be recognised eight several directions from which a simple attack - i.e., a lunge - might be made. Four of these were on the outside of the attacker, to the right of an imaginary line dividing his front into two equal parts, the other four were on the inside, or left. Of each quartette, two lines were above the middle of the body, two below. To each one of the several eight lines a distinctive name was affixed. These names were prime or first, seconde or second, tierce or third, quarte or fourth, quinte or fifth, sixte or sixth, septime or seventh, octave or eight. Thus, a thrust, or lunge, was said to be made in prime, seconde, etc. And as (simple) parries were made along exactly the same lines, one parried in tierce, quarte, etc., according to circumstances.
The allocation of these terms was as follows: tierce and sixte were concerned with the high line outside, seconde and octave with the low line outside, quarte and quinte with the high line inside, prime and septime with the low line inside.
A simple example will make quite clear the application of terms. When the foils of the two fencers are crossed with the points upward and threatening the right - i.e., each to the right of the opposing blade - they are in tierce; if to the left, and threatening the left, they are in quarte. To lunge in tierce is to thrust high to the right; to lunge in quarte, high to the left.
Seconde: Hand opposite right hip (or a trifle higher), arm straight, foil point a trifle below the level of the hand,
Quarte: Hand to left, thumb up, elbow in to body. Foil point level with eyes and inclining towards left.
Septime: Hand to right, opposite right shoulder, nails up, arm half extended.
It is just as well that the novice should be acquainted with the old acceptance of the eight lines, though, as mentioned before, four of these have been abandoned in actual practice. The four retained are seconde, tierce, quarte, and septime. Roughly speaking, seconde represents the fencei's lower right side, and tierce the upper right side, while quarte and septime stand for the left upper and lower side respectively.
Much of what has been described may be acquired by the novice before actually joining a school of arms, if the effort be made faithfully to follow the directions given, though it is more than possible that an instructor may find cause to correct a few inaccuracies into which the. untaught novice may fall.
Lastly, let me once again emphasise the point that to save oneself from being touched is of more importance than to score hits.