A good fencing match is a high-intensity melding of combat and ballet. The warriors push each other up and down a fencing strip with light flashing off their blades as they thrust, parry, attack and evade. While nobody jumps over rocks or retreats up stairs a la the Princess Bride, there is a great, dynamic aspect to the sport.
Coordination, speed, agility and self-assurance are just a few of the qualities this sport requires of its participants. Fencing’s intensity and demands for physical and mental acuity are a natural result of fencing’s violent history. And while fencing has morphed from combat to sport, these skills are a large part what make fencing such an exhilarating endeavor. A successful fencer must be capable of mounting powerful driving attacks or conversely, of making subtle and crafty defenses, all within the space of a few seconds. Speed and strength will only take an athlete so far in fencing: intellect is paramount. A good fencer must be clever and with unwavering concentration able to conceive and execute calculated moves quickly. The spirit of fair play and honor is an integral part of fencing. A maximum of politeness and consideration is always observed while competing with others. Fencing is as much an attitude as it is a sport and those who participate in fencing find that it can profoundly affect their lives.
Some form of fencing has been around for centuries. In fact, fencing is one of only four events to have been contested at every Olympics since the modern Olympic Games started in 1896. As fencing has moved away from warfare, several offshoots have developed: fencing as art and fencing as sport.
Fencing is a life-long sport that welcomes swashbucklers of all ages. You can learn it when you’re young, or when you’re young at heart. While most sports only reward speed or power, fencing lets you choose whether you are going to win by using your speed, or using your guile – which allows the parents to teach their children a thing or two while the children do the same to us.
While there are benefits in terms of having something unusual and conversation provoking to put on a college resume, the true benefits of fencing go much, much deeper. By learning fencing, a child learns self discipline, respect for others, independence and the importance of honesty and fair play. Such skills are transferable to any endeavor and help to create a well rounded and active person.