What the Heck Is Fencing Sport?
What Is Fencing Sport?
Fencing - which is also known as fencing sport or Olympic fencing - is a recreational sport of swordplay. Two people face each other and use modern swords to score points by hitting a target area on the body. You don't have to be a specific age to enjoy fencing, as it's suitable for all ages. It also offers a multitude of epic benefits for your health and your social life. Fencers use electronic scoring to register touches, and the referee keeps track of the rules and keeps the match going professionally and cleanly.
Fencing isn't just about a physical workout, though. It's a mental workout in which a fencer can learn skills to hone their strategies and build up physical stamina during the sport. Fencers who spend time learning how to master this sport don't just get involved for fitness; it's fun, and it's a learning curve. Participants can build their confidence and ability in fencing, even training to compete! There are three weapons inside the sport, and each of these weapons has different rules. You have foil, epee, and saber - and we'll go through the rules of each later on!
The rules, strategies and target areas differ within each game, and the target areas change depending on the weapon, which means each game is different and distinctive. Fencers often develop a preference for which game they play, and each fencer loves the challenge of learning which method they prefer. It's rare for a fencer to be an expert in all the weapons, but it can be done with focus and a lot of practice.
Is Fencing For Me?
The one thing to remember about fencing sport is that it's accessible for all regardless of age or fitness levels. Anyone can begin lessons at any time, and there are options for all physical abilities. Wheelchair fencing is even an option, which is why fencing sport is revered as one of the most accessible sports to be involved in. The vibrant and competitive scene is just another bonus of joining such a sport.
In the beginning, when you first join a fencing club, physical attributes will matter - but not in the way that you think. Taller people, for example, may find it easier to join epee and excel compared to shorter people. Physically fit individuals who already have a good grasp of fitness will find fencing relatively easy compared to others, as they're not as tired, so can manage the sport. Training and technique will develop over time, though, which means you'll fight fencers who come at you from all physical types and strengths. You'll train hard enough to be able to fence to the best of your abilities and if you are aiming to qualify for the Olympics? Physical fitness is going to matter, but you'll get there!
Fencing is one of the most elegant and modern combative sports around. It's been around since the Middle Ages, challenging participants both mentally and physically. It's a relatively safe sport as those who take part are expected to learn how to move and fight with control. They also wear protective gear like masks, gloves, and jackets.
Is Fencing Good For Me?
There are plenty of ways that fencing is a good sport for you and there is a good balance between the physical benefits of joining a fencing sport club and the social and mental benefits of the sport. You want a sport that is going to push your limits and make you feel good about it, and some of the reasons it's good for you include:
You'll Be More Flexible
Fencing involves a lot of lunging and the deeper you can do that, the more you will be able to hit your target and remain out of their reach. Everyone loves a good lunge, and these are going to make your thighs and hips stronger while improving the flexibility in your back and shoulders. You will usually have the same stance, so you need to practice with your opposite arm and leg to keep them at the same flexibility and strength.
You'll Have Better Endurance
Fencing may look easy when you're watching a match, but your legs will remain active throughout the time you are opposite an opponent. That's a lot of work for your legs, and even when you're not moving, you're in a constant state of tension. This builds your endurance and strength in your lower body, and you will be able to find stamina you didn't know you had.
You'll Engage In High-Intensity Activity
Fencing enables you to build your anaerobic fitness levels because you build your activity up with periods of recovery in between. As your fitness improves, you'll be able to fight for longer, and you'll build your fitness up slowly with training.
You'll Have Better Coordination
Most cardiovascular sports like rowing and running only move one part of the body at one time, and fencing doesn't have the same effect. Arms and legs work together, like a high-intensity dance. You'll learn how to control your moves and counter, adopting common positions and tailoring your movements to your own unique style. Fencing is a craft, and it's a craft that will build your ability to coordinate yourself.
You’ll Have Increased Agility & Speed
When you take part in fencing, you learn how to move quickly and respond rapidly to the moves of others. This means that your mind and body learn to remain alert and agile, which is an improvement in your general awareness right now. As well as this, fencing is referred to as physical chess, given the logical thought that you have to put into the movements and tactics that you employ. Your analytical thinking is improved, and you will feel much better about your passion and improvisation in your movements. You can win whole contests on a split-second decision, which means that fencing is increasing your mental agility.
You’ll Feel Less Stressed
Most sports don't give you the same ability to reduce your stress in the same way that fencing does. You are focused on a game at the same time your body is pumping you full of endorphins. This enables you to feel better on the outside as well as the inside, improving your stress levels.
You’ll Have Improved Cardiovascular Health
Fencing supports your heart. You move enough to increase the oxygen in the blood, releasing endorphins that give you that feel-good feeling. The extra oxygen encourages better circulation and boosts your immune system. When this happens, you will notice a drop in pollutants from the body, including carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
You’ll Have Better Balance
Fencing isn't just an offensive sport, it's defensive, too. This means that balance is vital to excellent performance. The constant movement that you will enjoy will strengthen your core as you go, making you stronger and able to hold your balance better in a match.
Alongside each of these reasons it's good for you, you'll also have the following:
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- Better self-discipline
- You can train at your own pace, with other people of all ages
- You'll meet new people and be able to be sociable with people of all backgrounds
- You get to swordfight!
What Age Can Children Start Fencing?
Whether the motivation is Muskateers or swashbuckling pirates, fencing sport is an exciting idea for children. For parents who understand the benefits of fencing, the decision about when to get their child started is a little more complicated. Fencing involves a lot of concentration, technique, and dedication, so the age that children start does matter - particularly when parents are paying for it. Children as young as five, for example, may not benefit as much from fencing or have the concentration to focus on their skill-building.
However, there are a lot of clubs out there that develop programs from a very young age to introduce fencing as a fun and exciting sport. These would use plastic swords and games to learn the techniques needed, then the children would level up as time goes on. Not only that, but fencing clubs for children provide them with a space to get to know new friends and build their confidence.
Generally, it's recommended that children be around seven years old before they join a fencing club, as it's the ideal age to listen and take in the information. Of course, if you are already a part of a fencing club yourself, your child may want to practice a little earlier because of that - but that's fine! Children will always imitate their parents so that they could develop an interest in the sport at a younger age than seven.
It's a smart idea to find a club that will cater to younger children, as they will help your children to grow and develop. Have a chat with the coach and visit a few of the sessions to see whether it would be right for your child. When it comes to competitions, children generally can start competing from age seven, too. Young fencers should understand how competition works and begin developing a good idea of good competition, and if you can build them up to that before involving them in competing, it will be better for them. Younger children may not compete as often, but it's such a good feeling for them to be part of a tournament when they're young.
It's really going to be up to you and your child how old they will be when they start with a fencing club. Maturity and motor skills make a difference, as no two children develop in the same way. This means that some children will not be ready under the age of ten and others will. The best way to tell is to bring them to a club and see how they get on - they may love it!
What About Starting Older?
If you think fencing clubs are just for children, you're wrong! You don't have to start fencing as a child to be able to be good at it. Fencing sport is something that you can start whenever you feel like it, and one of the best times in life to start fencing is as an adult. Adults need competition, social time and training, too, and adults get just as much - if not more - out of joining a fencing club than children do. Let's take a look at some of the best reasons to get started in a new fencing club as an adult:
Age Is Just A Number
For many things, people believe that they are too old to join in or to get into competition and it's just not the case. We may be living in a culture that puts young people first for everything, but just because you're in your 30's doesn't mean that you are old. If you are feeling vibrant and youthful, then that's precisely what you are. Starting a new hobby in your 30's or even 40's is possible, and you can really reconnect with your younger self by engaging in a sport that makes you feel alive!
Fitness Is Fun
We are battered with the idea that exercise is punishment and healthy eating is boring, but it really doesn't have to be. As adults, we're more aware of our mortality and how fit and healthy we feel on the inside, which is why we need something fun to motivate us. If you are engaging in a sport that is fun and competitive and brings you all the benefits of improving your health, why WOULDN'T you join in? You'll have fun, feel stronger and enjoy a social exercise that works perfectly for your joints; it's win-win.
Learning Something New
Old dogs and new tricks, right? Wrong. You are not a dog, which means you can learn new skills at any age that you didn't know that you had. You'll develop a whole new vocabulary and enjoy a sense of fulfillment with it. Fencing is a sport that allows you to take on something new that is fun and makes you feel included.
You may be facing people holding a sword, but you'll also get to know new people from different walks of life. It's easy to get stuck in a social rut, and it's even easier to be introverted and keep to yourself. With fencing, you get to connect with people who have the same interests that you do. It's a whole new culture of people that you didn't know existed for you to be involved with.
Better Mental Health
When we don't exercise, it's easy to become stagnant and depressed. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, but fencing takes that to a whole new level. With fencing, you are focusing on your body and your opponent, how each move makes you feel, how you should modify your stance to suit the person opposite you. There is so much more to the physical engagement of fencing, and the feeling of achievement that comes with it does wonders for your mental health. Along with this, you'll make your brain healthier just because you're learning physical skills - and those skills just keep on coming.
The day is long with commuting, working, family time, Netflix time - there never seems to be time just for you to do something that doesn't involve washing dishes or socks. You need to remember that while your life is busy, you are a person, too, and you deserve to engage in a sport that is fun. Fencing is a fun sport that will make you feel excited and thrilled, and you will keep going back for more.
Is Fencing Expensive?
For the most part, fencing is like any sport: when you want to go the distance, you put in the time, effort and the money for the equipment and lessons. Is it expensive? That all depends on whether you view this as a fun hobby that you attend once or twice a month, or you see it as a lifestyle addition that you want to do well in. A ballpark estimate of fencing as a sport equals anywhere from $650 to $1,300. Let's take a look at how that figure is broken down:
You need to have specific equipment before you begin your fencing journey, and it's up to you whether you turn up in sweats and rent a jacket, plastron, gloves, mask and practice foil. Or, you can buy your own over time. Most clubs supply you with what you need at first - especially while you work out whether it's something you want to continue.
Earlier, we mentioned that there are three specific weapons in fencing. Each of those weapons - the foil, epee or saber - feels differently and is shaped differently. They each also have very different rules, with your first ever weapon being a practice foil. Competitive fencing requires electric equipment.
Fencing lessons generally start with a foil, which is close to 3 feet long and is a flexible weapon. It's a sword that allows fencers to flick the blade and make attacks that surprise their opponent. The torso, front and back are the targets for foil, and the rules of right of way are a little complicated when you start out. Electric foils are used in competition, and this switches to electric scoring, where the foil is spring-loaded and wired so that when the lame (an electric vest pronounced lah-may) is touched with enough force, the machine registers the touch. Costs include:
- Practice Foil Cost: $26 to $35
- Electric Foil Cost: $41 to $159
The epee is heavier than a foil with a much thicker blade. It's the French word for sword, and touches in this game are scored only when the point of the blade touches the body. The target area here is the whole body, and epee means a harder touch for a point scored. Costs include:
- Practice Epee Cost: $34 to $38
- Electric Epee Cost: $47 to $179
A saber touch can be scored with the edge of the blade as well as the point, and the target includes the body from the waist up. Saber fencers need a long-sleeved lame that will cover the chest and arms from the waist, enabling protection at every angle. Costs for a Saber includes:
- Practice Saber Cost: $36 to $54
- Electric Saber Cost: $51 to $91
There are a few pieces of clothing that are necessary for fencing sport, and you should ensure that you are well-equipped when you decide to buy your own equipment. The clothing you need include:
Jacket – $52 to $330
Beginner jackets are on the lower cost end, but if you keep going, you want a lightweight and stretchy jacket, which can cost more.
Pants – $35 to $230
Sweatpants won't be a problem when you first start as you're learning and getting used to the skills you're learning. Once you get into the sport, you need comfortable fencing knickers and the right fabric to keep you cool.
Plastron/Chest Protector – $15 to $40
It's important to protect yourself, and a plastron is an important addition to your fencing kit. You wear it under your jacket, and it stops you from bruising.
Mask – $45 to $180 (mesh) to $430 (transparent saber)
There are different masks for different sports, and there are affordable options for you to start with ranging to the most expensive options for later on and competition.
Fencing Shoes – $50 to $150
Fencing 3-piece Set Uniform – $120
This includes the beginner’s standard weight jacket, pants, and plastron to protect you during matches and practice.
Body Cord - $28
This plugs into the bottom of your weapon and goes inside your jacket.
Gear Bag - $28 to $230
Regular bags won't work for fencing gear. You'll need a special bag to carry everything. Tournaments are usually a place you will travel to, so get the high-end bags with wheels.
On top of all the equipment, you need to think about lessons for all. Children can take lessons that don't surround competition, as can you, and each club has different rules with different levels. Costs for lessons vary by club, and there are always private lessons available if you want them.
- Beginner lessons: $60 to $200 for a 6 to 8-week course
- Intermediate lessons: $130 to $225 for a 6 to 8-week course
- Private lessons: $20 to $35 per hour
- US Fencing Association - USFA membership fee: $75
For most people, fencing is something to enjoy as a sport that gets you fit. For others, they have competition in mind for their future. Team and club competitions are for fun, and the social side of fencing may introduce other expenses to the mix. Ultimately, you have to look at fencing sport as an investment in your physical and mental health.
How To Choose Your New Fencing Club
You want this decision to be the right one for you, as your fencing club is going to be so much more than a place you exercise. It's the one that will determine whether you are successful in your hopes to be good at fencing and if you are just starting out, you want to make the best choice of fencing club. Here are a few of the things that you should be looking out for:
You want to learn from the best, which means looking into the experienced coaches that have the right qualifications. The better the skills, the better the support. They will be able to provide you with guidance that enables you to do well with your fencing future. You should also consider qualifications when deciding whether to choose a group or single lessons. You don't need an Olympic Fencing star to teach you, but it's essential to have confidence in the person teaching you a new sport, so make sure that they are educated and qualified to teach you in the first place and you'll get the best for your cash.
Budget, Schedule & All Things Practical
You should consider the practicalities with your club choice. There may be an excellent club that is far out of your price range, but a slightly less qualified coach near to you that has a more affordable lesson structure. Don't put yourself in debt for a hobby, so build-up to the better clubs if necessary. You also want a club with the right facilities for your comfort, so think about what you want from those, too. They don't have to be dripping in marble or gold, but they do have to be safe and able to keep you that way while you're training with them.
Will Fencing Help Me Get Into College?
When you have fencing listed as an interest in a college application form, you could find there will be a difference between going to a good college and a GREAT college. Fencing generally tends to give applicants a better advantage in their application because while the academic ability is important, there's more to it than that. Fencing as a passion shows a willingness to work in a team, to be a part of something voluntarily to learn and it gives the college the impression that this is a student with an ambition to learn.
Fencing allows participants to exhibit mental acuity and strategic thinking; it's also a sport that hones physical skills - which colleges love. There are colleges out there looking for students who want to participate with them, so whether you have the best possible GPA, it doesn't matter because you don't play as a team and you don't have an interest outside academics. College wants more than that from its students, which is why they love students with a creative spirit and a want to get involved. Fencing is a unique sport and colleges love the experience fencers bring to the table.
Student-athletes are revered in college, but fencing is different. It shows an interest in something a little more complicated and delicate, different from baseball or college football, and it's something that colleges appreciate. There is a strong presence of fencing in more than 30 of the top tier colleges in the US, and schools often compete against each other. If you are applying for college with a food level of fencing under your belt, you're going to have an advantage in your application.
Colleges That Have Fencing Teams
Below, you'll find a list of the all the colleges that have fencing teams that have been endorsed by the NCAA. Some colleges even offer fencing scholarships, so be aware of that when you are applying for schools.
Colleges Offering Sponsorships
- Stanford. With some of the best fencing teams around, Stanford offers scholarships to the best with the top grades.
- Notre Dame. Full scholarships are offered to those with the best academic scores.
- Columbia. Offers fencing scholarship awards, called the Herbert C.
- Penn State. One of the best in the country for women's fencing, offering an endowment of $50,000, which is earmarked for female fencers who show exceptional talent with excellent academic marks.
- Reed College, Oregon. There is a Williams Scholarship Fencing Tournament held annually, with the top three awarded $10,000 in scholarship money.
There are even fencing clubs that offer scholarship programs, so it's not just schools!
- The NCAA. Roughly 34 Division I and II ('men's) and 43 Division I and II ('women's) fencing team scholarships are offered.
- Institute of Texas. Two $500 scholarships to undergraduate fencers who are attending or are accepted at an accredited university.
- The NCAA. As well as their usual scholarship, the NCAA also sponsors a one-time $7,500 postgraduate award for a student in their final season of intercollegiate fencing competition.
Some local clubs or teams may also have money earmarked for scholarships, so always ask because until you do, you won't know!
Welcome to the fencing family! See you on the strip!