The set of hand signals used by the director of a fencing bout to communicate his decisions to the fencers and any spectators. People call it semaphore because if you don’t know what you are looking at, it can be extremely hard to follow. It is really quite simple, though.

(In every bout, one fencer is on the left of the referee, one is on the right. Such expressions as "touch from the left" mean simply that the fencer on the left of the referee scored. Also, obviously, the signal for "touch from the left" can be switched to mean "touch from the right" by switching right and left in the description.)

If you are a director trying to signify:

A touch from the left: Raise your left hand, and extend your right hand to the right. It looks like an L laid on its side.

Double touch: Extend both arms outward (to either side), then raise both hands.

Fence! Extend a hand towards either fencer, then bring them inward. Like "no touch", but just the hands move, beckoning each fencer towards the other.

Halt! Put one hand down, extend the other forward.

Point for the left! Raise your left hand.

Attack from left Extend your right hand to the right. (It can be seen that the signal for a successful touch is the "point" and "attack" signals just put together.)

No touch: Extend your hands to either side, then sweep both arms across. Like the "safe" sign in baseball.

Those are the major ones. As a stupid, tall, lazy fencer, I may be missing some of the more right of way related signs, but this will allow you to direct at least the best of the three weapons.

As a referee, I must strongly disagree with the descriptions presented here.

First of all, any particular sign should be completely separate. I.e., if you intend to signal "Attack from the left is parried; riposte arrives." you would first signal "attack from the left", then put your arms down. Then, signal "parry". Again, put your arms down. Antepenultimately, signal "arrives" to your left, and then put your arms down. Finally, lift your right arm to award the point to the right.

In practice, the neutral, arms-down position between each signal is not normally really followed; most refs just flow from one signal straight to the other. What they absolutely should NOT do, however, is signal two things at the same time.

So, with that said, here are the signals:

on the side which had the attack, hold your forearm parallel to the ground, hand flat, facing down, fingers bent towards ground.
on the side which got hit, extend your arm straight out, palm facing the fencers.
on the side which had the parry, hold your arm out, bent at the elbow so the forearm is straight up. Bring the other arm over, and form a cross.
has no signal. Go straight from parry to whatever happened with the riposte.
on the side which got hit, basically place hand at hip, swing it out, and back in, as if doing the robot.
En garde
Similar to "attack", but without the hand bent, and on both sides.
Rotate hands from "En garde" so the palms are now facing the fencers.
From the "ready" signal, swing forearms in, so palms face each other. Do not clap.
"Is no"
on the side opposite the attacker who missed, point finger at ear, swing forearm out to about a 135° angle, then swing it back in.
Exactly like "attack" but on both sides.
Nothing done
With palms facing ground, straight in front of you, cross the forearms in a swinging motion, then uncross.
Both are hit
Exactly like "arrives" but on both sides.
Exactly like parry, but without the arm crossing. On side that got the touch (in épée, possibly both).

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