More than than 600 fencers will spend the next week at George Mason University competing for five national individual championships and about 15 berths on the World Cup fencing team in the first leg of qualifying for the 1984 Olympics.

The tournament will run until next Saturday. Competition begins this morning at 8 o'clock with the preliminary rounds of men's foil. The first finals, in men's foil, will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Fencing is no longer the bloody sport it once was. It has given way to the age of electronics. A wired player now merely gets more bleeps on an electronic scoreboard instead of a sword through the heart if he loses.

Whether the fencer's blade is a foil, epee or saber (they vary in shape of blade, weight and flexibility), fencing is an art in which mental condition is almost as important as physical shape. It takes five touches to win a bout, which usually lasts about two minutes.

Being held for the first time in the Washington area, this week's tournament will feature defending champions Mark Smith of Atlanta (men's foil), Lee Shelley of New Jersey (men's epee), Peter Westbrook of New York (men's saber) and Jana Angelakis of Oregon (women's foil). U.S. Fencing Competition Begins -By Tim Kelly Washington Post Staff Writer

More than than 600 fencers will spend the next week at George Mason University competing for five national individual championships and about 15 berths on the World Cup fencing team in the first leg of qualifying for the 1984 Olympics.

The tournament will run until next Saturday. Competition begins this morning at 8 o'clock with the preliminary rounds of men's foil. The first finals, in men's foil, will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Fencing is no longer the bloody sport it once was. It has given way to the age of electronics. A wired player now merely gets more bleeps on an electronic scoreboard instead of a sword through the heart if he loses.

Whether the fencer's blade is a foil, epee or saber (they vary in shape of blade, weight and flexibility), fencing is an art in which mental condition is almost as important as physical shape. It takes five touches to win a bout, which usually lasts about two minutes.

Being held for the first time in the Washington area, this week's tournament will feature defending champions Mark Smith of Atlanta (men's foil), Lee Shelley of New Jersey (men's epee), Peter Westbrook of New York (men's saber) and Jana Angelakis of Oregon (women's foil).