Category Archives: Introduction

An introduction to the sport of fencing

Curious about fencing? Check it out!

In case you haven’t heard yet, our callouts are scheduled for tomorrow at 9:06 am and at 3:00 pm. This will be a great opportunity for newbies to check out the fencing club and to learn about what we have in store for the upcoming season. No previous experience is required–only a willingness to learn and a sense of adventure! Returning members should be prepared to practice on Tuesday. (That’s a big hint–bring your equipment.) And, as an added incentive, the first 30 students that turn in their completed registration forms will receive a $10 gift card to our swag shop.

For parents and interested family members, we will also have a couple of parent information meetings to answer all the questions that they may have. If you can’t make it to either of the callout sessions, come to one of the following meetings to learn about fencing and answer all of your parents’ questions at the same time:

Parent Information Meeting 1 – Friday, October 10 at 6:30 pm @ Harrison HS B101BC
Parent Information Meeting 2 – Saturday, October 11 at 11:00 am @ Tippecanoe County Library, Klondike Branch, Tempest Room (3062 Lindberg Road, West Lafayette,  765-463-5893)

I strongly encourage you to attend, even if you’re just a little bit curious about fencing. And you do not need to come to both meetings. We’ll have some light refreshments, and anyone who is interested can come. (Bring your friends, parents and family, but no pets, please!). I’ll go over what the club is all about, what you’ll learn, everything about equipment, and more!

I hope to see you all there!

Duke Basketball Meets Duke Fencing

Is fencing for everyone? Well, I think that is for each individual to decide for themselves. But I know that everyone can learn how to fence, even basketball players, and everyone can gain something from learning the sport.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking a shot at basketball players. (No pun intended.) You have to be a good athlete to play basketball, and an exceptional one to play it well. In fact if you watch a basketball game carefully, you can see a lot of the strategies and tactics that fencers use on the strip.

A couple of Duke University’s basketball players got a fencing lesson from Duke’s fencing team. How do you think it turned out?

 

Sneak Peek: Raider Rally Flyer

I’ve been working on the plans for the upcoming school year since the start of club fencing at Harrison High School is only a couple of months away (give or take a few weeks). Harrison hosts the Raider Rally, which is a day-long orientation for incoming freshman students. This will be the first year that we will be including a flyer in the information packet that will be handed out at the Rally. Since almost half of the team at Harrison graduated, it’s time to replenish with some new students.

Here’s a look at the flyer for the Raider Rally:

take-a-stab-2

Download a PDF copy of the flyer

 

Fencing Safety Rules and Guidelines

safetyfirstFencing is a very safe and lifelong sport. Fencing is often said to be safer than golf. Whether or not this is true, it is an extraordinarily safe sport considering its heritage and nature. The following common-sense safety rules and guidelines help make this sport one of the safest and most enjoyable experiences.

Safety Rules

  1. Mask, jacket, long pants, and glove must always be worn when fencing.
  2. The weapons are to be treated with respect and awareness at all times. Weapons must be carried point down at all times. They are not toys. A weapon is only pointed at another person when that person is fully masked and ready to fence or drill.
  3. Fencers must always be masked when weapons are raised, point forward. This means on all occasions, including discussion of actions and during drills.
  4. Violent fencing actions are not permitted. Fencers must control parries and attacks so that the opponent is not injured by whipping or hard stabbing actions of the blade. If you cannot execute a flick properly, don’t do it. Do not cause body contact nor use the unarmed hand against your opponent. Do not turn your back on your opponent.
  5. Stop fencing instantly if you think something is wrong or if your opponent retreats and waves the unarmed hand or gives any sign of wanting to stop.
  6. If you think a weapon is broken, stop fencing instantly.
  7. If you counterattack, you are responsible for preventing body contact, injury, and weapons breakage.
  8. If you feel a fencer is behaving in a dangerous or uncontrolled fashion, report it to an instructor immediately. They will speak to the fencer without disclosing your identity.
  9. Inspect your weapons and mask each time you use them. If you are using borrowed gear and find any problem please report it to an instructor. Do not put the item in question back into club storage without reporting it.
  10. Wear proper shoes for fencing (court, cross-training or fencing shoes). Please be sure that shoes are clean when entering the fencing floor to avoid dust and moisture buildup which make the floor slippery.
  11. Fencers on the floor have right of way. Persons not fencing are obligated to keep themselves and their gear clear of fencers on the floor.
  12. Report injuries immediately to an instructor.

Guidelines for Clubs & Classes

The goal is to teach the art and science of fencing in a safe environment of mutual respect and self discipline. Just as in a martial arts dojo, the traditions governing behavior in a fencing club have developed over the centuries. These traditions promote respect for one’s self, one’s opponent, the instructors, the weapons, and the tradition itself, as well as promoting safety. Repeated or egregious violations of protocols safety or sportsmanship will not be tolerated. Violators may be removed from class at the coaches’ discretion.

  • It is expected that each student enter and exit the venue respectfully. The instructors are to be addressed as Coach by the students. Students will respond to a coach’s request promptly and respectfully.
  • Each fencer will salute his drill partner before and after every encounter. Each fencer will salute his opponent, the referee, and his/her clubmates before every bout, and salute his/her opponent and shake hands after every bout.
  • When we are playing games or having team contests, cheering for your team is encouraged, but name calling and displays of poor sportsmanship will not be tolerated.
  • Food and beverages are never allowed on the fencing floor. Students are expected to clean up after themselves on the fencing floor, outside the fencing area, and while visiting other teams or clubs. In a club, each student is responsible for maintaining a clean, safe environment for learning. We all depend on one another for the maintenance of  the club venue.
  • Respect for one’s self and others is also a major goal of good sportsmanship and discipline.  Profanity, racial, religious, or sexually degrading comments and coarse joking will not be tolerated. Persons receiving such comments should report them to the Coach immediately.

The sport of fencing is by its very nature competitive. In any given encounter, one person will be victorious, and one will be defeated. Learning to accept victory gracefully is at least as important as learning that defeat can be a lesson. Thus fencing by its very nature teaches sportsmanship, resilience, and mental toughness.

The heart of a fencing club is its students. Following these guidelines, students and instructors can create a safe, fun learning environment.

Why We Start with Foil

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Among the many questions that I get asked as a fencer and a now a fencing instructor, inevitably a student will ask, “Why do I have to start with foil?” The short answer is not “Because I said so,” but rather, “It’s the starting point for all training in competitive fencing.” I still get the blank look with that statement, so perhaps I should elaborate.

My choice and method are not random or arbitrary. My guide and inspiration for this methodology is one of the masters of our sport, Nick Evangelista. Master Evangelista has written several authoritative books on the art and sport of fencing in addition to being an accomplished swordsman in his own right. He has over thirty years’ experience in fencing and teaching fencing. His thoughts on this subject are quite clear and uncomplicated:

The approach I take is to teach fencing so that it is both efficient and effective. I teach form so that it establishes economy of motion, point control, timing, judgment –the foundational elements of fencing from its earliest days. I also teach my students the ‘language of fencing,’ so that they learn to think fencing. I would be stealing from those who come to me if I taught them anything else.

When asked about why he teaches foil first to his students, he responds:

I teach fencing in a very traditional fashion. Everyone begins with foil. No exceptions. Foil instills the fundamentals of fighting with a sword in a fencing student. The conventions of the foil are, in fact, a valuable template for changing our behavior from everyday people reactions to controlled fencer responses. This basic training is essential for everything that follows. Those who begin their fencing careers with either epee or saber are missing an opportunity to bring added depth to their weapon of choice.

So nothing is accidental or mere busywork when teaching the skills and fundamentals of fencing. Each basic form or movement is a building block for the next skill, and then the next skill, and so on.

The best summation for all of this is an article that Master Evangelista wrote himself. I truly could not state it any better than he has, so for the sake of efficiency, the link to his article, Starting With Foil, is included here for your information. I would encourage every student (and parents, too!)  to read it and understand it. You’re starting with foil not because the coach says so, but because it is the BEST approach to mastery of the sport.

Starting with Foil by Nick Evangelista

This May Give You Some Ideas…

The University of Notre Dame has long had a strong fencing program, most recently earning the title of NCAA Champions in 2011. ND Athletics, in general, has had a reputation that is almost legendary. Their Student Athlete Advisory Council came up with a clever idea to introduce the sport of fencing to their student body. Watch this video, and comment with a reply to this question – How can use this idea to promote fencing at Harrison?

An Introduction to Right of Way

The concept of right of way is one that applies to foil and sabre. Wikipedia actually has a decent definition for this concept: Priority or “right of way” is the method used in foil and sabre fencing to determine which fencer receives the point if both fencers land a valid hit at the same time (if both fencers land a valid hit at the same time in épée fencing, they both receive a point). Generally, priority is determined by first considering which fencer attacked first. In order to initiate an attack a fencer must threaten the target area of their opponent with the point of the foil while their arm is extending. When performing a compound attack the fencer must not withdraw the arm by bending the elbow.

Below is a video of a demonstration done by Tim Morehouse and his cohorts at a recent Fencing Masters event in New York. It gives a good introduction into what right of way looks like when watching a bout. Understanding right of way will help you to understand how you can score points in a bout.

What is Fencing?

Do you have friends and family members who ask you about fencing? Since it’s a sport that you don’t normally find televised on a Monday night, I’m sure that you’ve gotten questions from time to time. If so, pull them in front of the screen, sit them down, and watch the following video put together by the Royal Arts Fencing Academy in Columbus, Ohio:

Any questions?

Why Fencing?

Once in a while when talking with someone who is unfamiliar with the sport of fencing, I’ll get the question, “Why fencing?”

Not intending to be a wisecracker, my initial response usually would be, “Why not?”

There are dozens of way to stay active and to exercise, even hundreds. However, I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy exercising for the sake of exercising. I could never run just to run. I needed a soccer ball to chase after in order to run. I like to be mentally engaged in my physical activities, and if I happen to get physically fit in the process, so much the better!

Fencing improves flexibility, reflexes, speed and agility that provides a well-rounded form of mental and physical exercise essential for total health and wellness. Additionally, fencing promotes sportsmanship and fuels the desire to excel in different fields of life. A fencer is able to make quick and strategic decisions and has a better focus and level of concentration.

I could go on and on, but in the end you should find your own reasons and your own answer to the occasionally repetitive question “Why fencing?”