Fencing is a fantastic hobby for anyone who enjoys physical activity, being outdoors and using their brain. Fencing provides an excellent workout because it requires the use of both upper-body strength and coordination. It also improves balance while providing aerobic exercise that strengthens the heart.
What is Fencing?
Fencing is the sport or pastime of fighting with swords. Historically, many cultures have embraced fencing as a way to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
The advent of more modern weapons has reduced fencing’s standing in some parts of the world, but it remains popular throughout the western world.
Professional fencers are usually highly-fit athletes who fence for their countries in international competition. The great news is that fencing is no longer reserved for the elite, and amateur participants should not be intimidated by professional fencers.
Age isn’t a barrier to fencing, either: many clubs have members ranging from children to adults of both genders. It’s a good idea for novices to take fencing classes with an instructor, but experienced fencers can study independently or with a book.
Benefits of Fencing as a Hobby
- Fencing Helps you develop stronger concentration and focus.
- It is a great way to meet friends and socialize. It’s common for fencers to keep in touch even after their lessons have ended, and fencers may form local clubs where they can practice together in a friendly environment.
- It’s a fun activity to do with family members of all ages (even young children can fence).
- Fencing promotes cardiovascular fitness and endurance, helping you maintain a healthy heart and body weight over time by burning calories while building muscle strength in the arms, chest, legs, hips, and upper back.
- You don’t have to be incredibly strong or fast to fencing—most of the fencing is mental! In fact, many fencers have been surprised when they learn how much muscle endurance they need for fencing because it requires so little physical effort compared to other sports like basketball or soccer.
- Fencing gets you outdoors and in the sunshine, enjoying physical activity with friends and family members in beautiful places like parks and (indoor) gymnasiums! It’s also an inexpensive hobby because all you need to get started is a fencing mask (costs less than $100), a fencing practice weapon (in most cases this will cost between $50–$150), and protective equipment such as knee pads and gloves—all of which can usually be found at huge discounts online or secondhand.
- You’ll learn how to use your body more fully by engaging your legs, arms, shoulders, chest muscles, core stability muscles, and hips during fencing—and training these muscle groups together provides even more benefits than working them one at a time.
- Fencing is an excellent workout for your brain! The mental strategy behind fencing requires you to constantly analyze and overcome challenges presented within the game, helping to keep your mind sharp over time.
- You don’t need lots of special equipment or clothing to begin fencing because it’s very customizable—and many fencing clubs have used equipment that you can use free of charge or inexpensively buy to practice on your own at home. All you really need are comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing (e.g., pants, t-shirt), and sufficient space to move around without harming yourself or others!
- Fencing is fun! There are all kinds of fencing, including both traditional and electric styles, allowing you to choose your level of sport involvement.
Getting Started with Fencing
We’ll talk about all the things you need to know to get started with this fascinating sport, from understanding its different styles, equipment, to where and how you can start practicing. Trust me, it’s easier than you think!
Understanding Basic Fencing Rules
Before jumping into the action, you should familiarize yourself with the basic rules of fencing. While each style (Foil, Épée, and Sabre) has its own specific rules, there are also general rules that apply to all fencing matches.
For instance, in all styles, a bout (individual match) usually lasts for three rounds of three minutes each, with a minute break between rounds. The fencer with the most points at the end of the match, or the first to reach 15 points, is declared the winner.
Each time a fencer scores a ‘touch’ (successfully lands a hit on the valid target area), they earn a point. But remember, the definition of a ‘valid’ hit can vary depending on the style you’re playing.
In short, understanding these rules will not only help you in your training but also enhance your appreciation of the sport as a spectator.
The Three Styles of Fencing
First things first, fencing isn’t just one sport – it’s actually three sports in one! The styles include Foil, Épée, and Sabre, each with their own unique rules and equipment.
Foil is often recommended for beginners. It’s a light, thrusting weapon, and hits are scored by landing the tip on the opponent’s torso. Next, Épée is similar to Foil but is heavier and targets the entire body. Last but not least, Sabre allows for both cutting and thrusting movements, with targets being anywhere above the waist.
You may want to try all three to find out which style suits you the best. But no worries, whatever you choose, you’re in for a fun, engaging, and thrilling experience!
Your Armor and Weaponry
Now, let’s talk gear. In fencing, the equipment is crucial not just for the game, but for your safety too. Generally, you’ll need a mask, a jacket, an underarm protector (also known as a plastron), a pair of gloves, knickers (breeches), and a fencing weapon.
Do note, the specific design of your gear may vary depending on the fencing style you choose. For instance, Sabre fencers wear a mask with a metallic covering to register head hits, unlike Foil and Épée fencers.
While you may feel like running off to buy your gear right now, hold your horses! Many fencing clubs provide equipment for beginners, which gives you time to decide if the sport is for you before making a hefty investment.
Finding the Right Fencing Club
The best place to start your fencing journey is to join a local fencing club. Here, you’ll have access to coaches, equipment, and fellow fencers to practice with. Look for clubs with certified coaches who can provide quality instruction and ensure your safety during practice sessions.
Do a little research, ask around, and visit a few clubs if you can. It’s important to find a club that suits your vibe – you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time there!
Your First Lesson
Your first fencing lesson will typically focus on the basics – your stance, how to move, and some basic attacks and defenses. This might not sound as exciting as an action-packed duel, but these foundational skills are vital. Plus, even this level of fencing can be a great workout!
Fencing is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance. Therefore, it’s beneficial to incorporate general fitness training into your routine. This can be anything from running, cycling, or swimming to improve cardiovascular fitness, to strength training for power, and yoga or pilates for flexibility and balance.
Just as important as physical fitness is your mental game. Fencing is often called “physical chess” because it requires strategic thinking and quick decision-making. Practicing mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, can help improve your focus and calm under pressure.
Investing in Your Own Gear
If you decide that fencing is the sport for you, you may eventually want to invest in your own gear. Having your own equipment not only allows you to practice more freely, but it can also be tailored to fit you perfectly, ensuring a more comfortable and effective performance.
When you’re ready to purchase, consider consulting with your coach or experienced fencers at your club to ensure you’re getting the right gear.