Fundamentally, fencing is a game of problem-solving. Your opponent presents the problem of defending your attacks, and the solution is to time your attack in a way that is difficult for your opponent to maneuver out of the way, or avoid with defensive movements called a parry (the use the foil epee or sabre to block). Fencers understand when to give ground, when to attack. Choosing the wrong moment, getting too close or allowing too much space for the opponent to advance and attack allows your opponent a better opportunity to score.
Physically, your child uses every part of their body. Fencing also encourages kids to learn to think analytically - they need to observe, analyze, adjust constantly, and learn quickly as they develop as athletes. But most importantly, Fencing is a lot of fun!
Fencing activities in groups emphasize physical fitness, skill development, and social interaction based around an incomparable experience. Fencing provides the opportunity for your child to practice and excel in an accessible, individual sport but in a group environment. It’s a win-win!
Gladiators Fencing Club offers programs with well-structured activities and general physical activity with an emphasis on developing coordination and basic physical literacy. Activities are designed to enhance and reinforce basic sport skills (running, jumping, balance, coordinated movement) along with fundamental fencing skills (advancing, retreating, various techniques of defending with your foil/epee/sabre, “attacking” with a lunge etc) Among the fundamental rules is the respect of opponents, team mates and regard for rules and order which have been well established since the early origins of the sport hundreds of years ago.
Gladiators offers opportunities to try a one-on-one lesson with a certified coach or to try a short course of several weeks for your child to see what fencing is like and to discover what discipline of fencing is most suitable for them.
Fencing is scored electronically. When a touch is made, a scoreboard lights up to indicate a touch was scored. The referee calls a stop to the action and awards a point before resuming the match. Olympic level matches, called bouts, have a time limit of 9 min, divided into three periods of 3 minutes, and end when time expires or when one fencer scores 15 points. Each of the disciplines (foil, epee, sabre) has its own characteristics to captivate the imagination, talents, abilities, and personality of its practitioners. In foil, fencers use a light flexible weapon that in its early days was “foiled”, blunted, as it was designed purely as a sporting device. Modern foils have an electronic button on the point that is depressed on the target (torso) of the opponent that triggers a signal on scoring equipment to indicate a touch was made. Epee fencing’s target is the whole body. The epee (lit “sword” in french) has a similar mechanism that verifies an opponent has scored a point. Sabre is the sprint of fencing, characterized by fast movements with touches above the waist counting for points. In Sabre, typically, the side of the blade is used to score by merely making the slightest contact with the valid (above the waist) target.
Younger fencers (under 12yrs) typically go to 5 or 10 points. A typical practice for new fencers may be an hour, but longer practices are the norm as fencers progress. In the city and region, one can find fencers competing regularly, with events about each month, that run from Sept to May. At local events, fencers get 6-10 bouts every competition they enter. It's a great way to learn and to take information back to the practice to continue improving. Fencers are not required to participate in competitive programs, but for many, the chance to challenge skills against others has a lot of appeal. Most clubs offer a variety of programs from recreational to competitive training.
Fencing in the modern form has existed for over 100 years with many advances in equipment safety. Many clubs provide equipment, offer rentals, or can supply reasonably-priced options to lower barriers of entry for people unfamiliar with the sport. A basic mask, glove and fencing jacket you would wear for a class will run $200-$250, while the cost of equipment for tournaments would be around $500-650 depending on the discipline. Rental could be $25-35/month, but some clubs may allow beginners to borrow gear. For new fencers, renting is a great option, and purchasing gear once a fencer demonstrates some commitment to the activity beyond an initial course or session.
How to start?
Try an individual lesson or book a beginners class. Sport Calgary's All Sport One Day or club open house events are very popular and allow participants to try fencing as an activity to get a feel for this sport. Summer camps are a wonderful way for your child to experience fencing for the first time, too!
The typical fencer often starts at the ages of 9-12, but some clubs offer classes for younger fencers with modified (plastic and lighter equipment) and many competitive athletes start in their teens, as young adults and many as adults. It’s something that can be learned and started at almost any age. Very young children (toddlers) lack some of the motor skills required for fencing and the attention and concentration of developing children makes fencing better suited to those ages 7 or 8 and older, but there are always exceptions.
Contact the club for more information about opportunities to try fencing and to find the right program for your child.
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