Fencing is an exciting activity for men and women of any age. Derived from old sword-fighting skills, the modern sport is a safe and fun way to develop fitness, agility, quick reflexes, a cool head and tactical awareness.
Fencing comes from the word 'defence', the art of protecting oneself.
Fencing was officially established by King Charles IX in 1567 as a non-fatal version of swordplay, although sporting elements had existed long beforehand.
The sport reached a peak in the 1920s where it was fashionable for the upper classes to pay to watch the fencing masters compete before them. In modern times, the sport is less high-brow and is fenced by everyone from hollywood film stars to home-economics teachers.
Modern technology such as electronic measuring devices and protective gear allowed the sport to progress to the fast paced and dynamic Olympic sport we know today.
The sport is practiced with three weapons, foil, epee and sabre. Each weapon lends itself to a different flavour of tactics and counter-tactics and although all share the same common fencing forms, depending on your personality, you may find one suits you more than the others.
The foil is the original sporting weapon, historically derived from the small sword. Hits are scored with the tip of the blade to the torso of the opponent, perhaps because of its martial background or perhaps because originally when safety equipment was in its infancy, this was the safest target to aim for. The secret to wielding this weapon is a careful balance of defensive and aggressive tactics.
The sabre, like the foil also derives from a martial background and hits are scored by the edge of the blade anywhere above the waist. A possible reason for this is suggested to simulate the historical use of a sabre wielded from horseback, although the real reasons appear to have been lost in time. Success with this weapon leans towards more aggressive and dominating moves that leave the opponent little opportunity to make a defence.
The epee, unlike the other two weapons, comes from a civilian weapon, the rapier. Duels were not necessarily to the death and in the modern sport, this is expressed in the sport by allowing both competitors to stab and score simultaneously and to be able to hit any part of their opponent that they wish, even the foot.
Winning strategies with this sword rely on careful patience and observation followed by lightning fast attacks.
Physical and Mental Benefits
The sport requires a unique blend of physical and mental abilities. This allows it to cater to a wide range of ages: from young children to senior citizens. Whilst the younger depend on their speed and agility, the older rely on devious tactics and devilish cunning.
It can give you the same cardio workout as squash but without same stress put on joints
It develops your flexibity and balance
You improve your co-ordination and reaction time
Develops your tactics and guile
Although you (mostly) compete as an individual, your skills and abilities develop as part of a team effort. Fencing is a long road to take and you will train and workout with your fencing club and the people within it.
Inevitably, this leads to strong social ties and you may not remember what it was like to socialise before taking up fencing. There is no single demographic of who will fence - the sport attracts people of all walks of live and of all ages.