After warm up everyone fences everyone else. Size is not an issue!
Ok we know the jokes but the words are related. “Fencing” comes from “defence” as you really didnt want to get on the end of those blades when they were sharp! It wasnt a pleasant way to go. Similarly your garden fence is a defensive perimeter.
In some countries it is called “Escrime” meaning skirmish. Thus the international body is called the FIE, Federation Internationale d’Escrime”. Its French because they wrote the rules that turned the deadly art into a sport back in the mid 18th century and is headquartered in Switzerland. In the UK the governing body is British Fencing.
Fencing is not the most well known of sports in the UK. Probably because it used to be associated with the aristocracy who were the only ones who could afford the highly crafted steel weapons and the lessons.
These days it is a modern sport open to everyone and is in the paralympics as well as being in the modern Olympics every year since it was founded in 1896
In other countries, like Italy and France, it is on the national curriculum from an early age and everybody does it.
In fact fencing has as large a following in this country as road cycle racing, about 15-20,000 in the UK and there is a competition being held every weekend somewhere. Admittedly It is not the most televisual sport due to its speed, but as a participatory sport its great fun. You can poke people without going to prison! It is a sport open to everyone from all walks of life and all social backgrounds.
Exercise – of course! it is closely related to High Intensity Training and great for heart and lung health, keeping fit and looking good! Fencers live a long time… Fencing burns off stress hormones and gives you a good, happy feeling. I’m all for those!
Agility – develop and keep good balance. Throw off those slumped ‘office shoulders’ and extend those joints!
Tactics – its a mental game too. What are your opponent’s strengths? Their weaknesses? How can you use them to your advantage? Fencing has been described as chess at high speed. Checkmate!
Not everyone is into team games, some are more ‘individualistic’. Fencing is often the ideal sport for them as they are more independent and self-reliant. Fencing develops this in a positive way.
It gets them out and away from TV, games consoles and ‘social media’! Meet people in real life for goodness sakes!
Self-discipline – No one is going to chase them to become better. Fencing gets them to focus which translates into benefits at school and their future working life.
Decision making – Refereeing develops responsibility and self-confidence. The Referee is The Boss! It brings out those shy, introverted types and lets extroverts express themselves too. And decisions have to be made to find a way around the opponent’s defences if you are not going to stand there like a dummy!
Respect – We look after each other and teach the etiquette of fencing: good manners! We salute our opponents, referees and the audience before and after a bout and shake hands, too. No hard feelings! We have team competitions which helps engender loyalty. It is not a selfish sport by any means.
Friendship – Fencers often make friends for life as they have a common interest and similar attitudes to life.
And its Indoors – No cold, muddy fields in the middle of winter…
Certainly safer than boxing or skydiving, and even safer than crossing the road (its not been banned yet?). The clothing and masks are all designed around safety and we teach safe fencing; distance control, how to hit properly and not hitting those not wearing a mask. Again its about self-control and discipline.
Each club has its own fees of course but they range from £5 a week with an annual membership of £30 or so or pay by the term in advance. Here at Bromley Fencing Club there is a fee of £62 per term for juniors and £68 for adults or £8 per week. Terms are between 10 and 12 weeks
Equipment ranges from £20 for a glove to £80 for a mask but everything is available to borrow and you can build up personal kit a piece at a time. There are a range of suppliers to choose from and a second hand market. The kit makes great birthday and Christmas presents too!
Always take advice from your club before buying as there are some complex rules about weapons sizes and clothing requirements for different ages.
Fencing is a sport you can do ALL your life. The players of many sports like football often give up in their 30’s. Fencing competitions are held for all age groups from under 9s to the over 70’s! And there are plenty of places to practice. There are eight clubs in south east London and Kent borders and you can fence everyday of the week if you wanted to!
In all senses, Fencing is a Sport for All and a Sport for Life. All of it. You will not regret having a go or introducing your child to it.
For more information and other clubs in the area go to our Useful Links page
And as you have read this far here is a treat for you. Fencing in stunning slow motion. The male and female fencers are using the epee (based on French duelling swords) so the whole body is the target. It shows many brilliant hits and techniques and you will definitely want a go after watching this.
Sometimes things do not always go according to plan…