I have been fencing for around 20 years. You wouldn’t be able to tell from my ability that I have been doing the sport this long, but it’s true nonetheless. However, I still love fencing and do it purely for the enjoyment. Many people I’ve met appear to have tried fencing at least once in their lives, whether that be at school, university or somewhere else altogether, and, despite seeming to have enjoyed it, have not taken it any further. Well, I think that’s a crying shame. The sport suffers somewhat from many people assuming that it’s too expensive to get involved in. This could not be further from the truth, as there are clubs in pretty much every city and many surrounding towns as well as at most universities. The majority of these clubs have kit that you can borrow to get you started, and only if you want to start taking the sport more seriously do you need to think about buying your own equipment.
But anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you’ve ever tried fencing before and enjoyed it, have never tried before but have always wanted to, or have barely heard of fencing but are looking for something new to try out in 2016 — here are 5 reasons why you and everyone else should absolutely give the sport a try this year!
- Perfect for a Release
Firstly, after a long hard day at the office or at university, many of us are often in need of a release or something to take our frustrations out on. Sometimes we’ll go for a beer, or perhaps go for a run. A small minority of us go fencing and stab people. You’re actually encouraged to stab people and in a variety of different ways. And it works! You do feel a lot better for it. Being stabbed back is sometimes weirdly satisfying as well. Worrying about a report you need to hand in tomorrow, or a presentation you need to give to a room full of people? That’ll have to wait because someone bigger, better and stronger has just smashed you in the middle of the chest. Concentrate!
- Fencing is good for you
Fencing is also really, really good for you. Fitness, agility, strength, speed, coordination, balance, timing, reflexes — you’ll improve on all of these while fencing and use nearly every muscle in your body while doing so. The sport is also incredibly tactical, much like a game of chess in that every move you make has to take into consideration what your opponent might do, what you would then have to do, what they would then do, what you need to then do…
- Socially a great sport
Next, people who do fencing are for the most part really nice. I’ve never been called “a lanky streak of piss” or told that I was going to have “my head ripped off” (both in one game of football) while at fencing. Fencing is a really international sport that attracts a really good mix of people. I’ve lived in Canada for two years and Amsterdam for two years, as well as having fenced at a number of clubs in the UK, and met a load of great people from all different walks of life. The fact that you can get hammered 15-0 by someone and then happily chat away to them afterwards is surely a sign of good sportsmanship. The most important thing is trying and getting to the finish line, right?
- Transferrable skills
Fencing might seem like a sport that is completely alien to anything you’ve ever done before, but if you enjoy sport and being active then the chances are that you’ve already got some transferable skills that will come in extremely handy. Martial arts teach about balance and reactions, tennis about footwork, running about stamina, and so on. I’ve also had the idea that even something like playing the drums could be useful, as this requires great coordination between your different limbs — very important in fencing!
- The art of duelling
Finally, and probably most importantly, if you ever get challenged to an eighteenth-century style duel or a Robin Hood-esque sword fight following a disagreement in the pub, some knowledge of fencing will mean you can confidently choose swords over pistols when offered a choice of weapon. Unlikely, yes, but can you afford to rule it out? If you decide to fight like Errol Flynn, you’ll need to invest in a pair of tights, too.
Header image: Wikimedia Commons Final Trophee Monal 2012 n08 by © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikipedia Commons CC-BY-SA 2.5 All rights reserved. Gallery 1: Left image: Flickr Fencing duel uwdigitalcollections CC BY 2.0 All rights reserved; Image top right: Wikimedia Commons Veniamin Reshetnikov (L) and Nikolay Kovalev (R) both claim the hit; the referee must decide who scores the point. Final of the 2013 World Fencing Championships. by © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikipedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 All rights reserved;
Image bottom right: Wikimedia Commons Italy’s Arianna Errigo (L) competes against Carolin Golubytskyi of Germany (R) in the final of the women’s foil event in the 2013 World Fencing Championships 2013 at Syma Hall in Budapest, 10 August 2013. by © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikipedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 All rights reserved.