Are you interested in learning more about the sport of fencing? If so this is the article for you! This is our ultimate guide to your fencing questions answered. We had our coaching staff write their answers to these most asked fencing questions. They cover:
Yes, fencing is an anaerobic exercise that requires a lot of lower body strength. Due to the nature of movement involved in fencing, it primarily develops strength in the legs. Coach Josh
How much do fencing lessons cost?
Fencing is typically learned in two formats, group classes, and individual lessons. Group classes run anywhere between $90-120 per month are usually more cost-effective than individual lessons. However, as a fencer advances in skill level, individual lessons are needed to hone specific skills. Individual lessons run about $35-40 each depending on the quantity purchased. Coach Josh
Does fencing help you get into college?
As with any extracurricular activity, pursuing it at a deep level helps in college admissions. Most colleges with a varsity college fencing program are fairly selective, so while pursuing fencing in college is an admirable goal, it will not override the necessary academic standards set by each institution. Coach Josh
Is fencing a fun sport?
Yes. Fencing is a highly technical sport that utilizes both mental and physical capabilities. As such, fencers with a wide variety of backgrounds can become successful if they learn to adapt their natural abilities to the sport entirely. Secondarily, due to the high learning curve involved, fencers can compete against younger fencers far into middle-age. This makes fencing a great sport as it is cross-generational. Coach Josh
How long does it take to learn to fence?
Most people find by practicing 2-3 times a week that they can gain some basic technical knowledge around the one-year mark. Training 3-4 days per week, a fencer can expect to reach mid-level competency in 5-8 years, based on their natural ability. High-level fencers typically train 5-6 days per week and have around 10-15 years of experience. Regardless of the number of years involved in the sport, fencing is constantly evolving, opening new avenues to be explored, making it a life-long commitment for those interested. Coach Josh
Can adults learn fencing?
Yes. Due to the technical and tactical nature, adults usually can grasp the mental aspects quicker than their younger and possibly more physically fit classmates. This makes fencing a great sport for parents to participate in with their children, as they can learn together on even footing. Coach Josh
How long does it take to be good at a sport?
Research shows it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to become a 'professional,' whether playing the cello or playing with swords. So it depends on how many hours you practice each week. If it were 40 hours a week, you would reach 10,000 hours in approximately five years. Since most of us have jobs or school, 20 hours a week is more realistic and therefore ten years. You also have to remember that 'practice makes permanent, so your approach must be correct for it to count! Coach Toby
What makes a good fencer?
Many traits of a good fencer are also good traits in other sports:
Belief in yourself and your ability to continue to improve, even through difficult times.
Setting goals and surrounding yourself with the right people to help you reach your goals.
Learning how to take constructive criticism and suggestions from your Coach and more experienced fencers.
Resiliency and treating your body with respect, and of course, thinking on your feet!
If you add the ability to have fun - most of the time - when you are training, you have what it takes to be a good fencer! Coach Toby
Why is fencing not popular?
Fencing is quite popular. It just depends on where you live! Just as football is popular -- and easily accessible -- in the southern parts of the United States, fencing is quite popular in Italy, Hungary, Britain, and France. That is likely, in part, because it is more accessible as a sport. The popularity of fencing in the United States is growing, and there are over 30,000 fencers registered with USA Fencing. It is estimated that there are many more who fence but are not registered with our National Governing Body (NGB). Coach Toby
Does fencing teach you how to sword fight?
Yes, it does! But of course, that depends on your definition of a 'sword fight.' In the movies, a 'sword fight' is meant to look and sound great. In warfare or a dark alley, a 'sword fight' is meant to dispatch your opponent and survive to see another day. In modern Olympic fencing, a 'sword fight' is intended to score points on your opponent and win the bout, a little bit of dispatching your opponent and, with good technique, you can look great while doing it. Coach Toby
Is height an advantage in fencing?
Yes, to a degree. Physics will tell you that longer levers (legs and arms) are slower to move than shorter ones, but they do go farther in lunge and longer in reach. With good technique, these longer levers can be put to good use and overcome the speed difference. A fencer's style is also generally developed in relation to their height. A tall fencer with good technique and style taking advantage of their height will likely be a more difficult bout than a similar fencer of average height. Being a shorter fencer myself, I have never let this bother me -- think 'more target'! Coach Toby
Why do fencers wear white?
Fencers originally wore white uniforms to show hits. In the early days of sport fencing, sword tips had three prongs on the end, which held a tiny pad with ink on it. When a fencer was touched, the ink would leave a mark on the jacket. They would use lemon juice on the mark to remove it, and they would go on to the next hit. I have heard that creative cheaters would soak their jacket in lemon juice to keep the ink from marking their jacket. Today, most fencers wear white, and coaches wear black because it is customary. And, while most jackets are white, I understand that they can also be pastel-colored. I personally would take a white jacket over a pink or baby blue. Coach Andy
Is fencing for the rich?
No, fencing is not for the rich. Anyone can learn to fence. Most fencing clubs have the equipment you can use. If a person decides to become competitive, they generally purchase their equipment and pay for travel and entry fees at tournaments. These are not cheap, but there are many ways to help with the costs. It usually isn't too hard to find perfectly good used equipment, and entry fees for local events are generally not very expensive. Carpooling can cut down on the cost of travel. It is only if a person decides to compete internationally that things start to get pretty expensive. Coach Andy
Are fencing shoes worth it?
Wearing shoes designed for fencing is nice, but they tend to be expensive. Any court-style athletic shoes will do just fine, and that is what most fencers do. I know a couple of hard-core fencers who shell out the money for fencing shoes, but most people wear tennis shoes, basketball shoes, volleyball shoes, indoor soccer shoes, or any other type of shoe that grips the floor and supports their feet. Coach Andy
What is a fencing suit called?
Most people call them their "fencing whites," And they consist of a jacket, knickers (knee pants), glove, mask, plastron (underarm protector), tall socks, and pair of shoes. They are designed to allow free movement while protecting from impact and punctures. Jackets and knickers tend to be the double thickness in the front. Coach Andy
Is fencing hard to learn?
It is not hard. Anyone can learn the basics pretty quickly. However, just like learning any skill, it takes some training and practice to get good. Coach Andy
What are the 3 types of fencing?
The three disciplines of fencing are foil, Epee, and saber. Foil, a training weapon, was invented by the French in the 18th century. The target area for foil is the chest, back, and throat. The Epee is derived from the French Small Sword. The Epee, like the foil, is a thrusting weapon and has a full-body target. The saber is both a cutting and a thrusting weapon. The target area for this weapon is the waist, arms, and head. Coach Katie
Can fencing be used for self-defense?
The modern sport of fencing is not used for self-defense. Much like sport karate, modern fencing is more concerned with competition and scoring points. Italian Classical Fencing and Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) concern themselves with the study and replication of treaties from the swordmasters of the 16th century and onward. Coach Katie
Can you die from fencing?
In the modern world, no one should die from fencing. All equipment should meet the United States Fencing Association's rigorous quality standards and the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, which makes our sport safe. However, in modern records, there is one instance from the 1982 World Championships. Vladimir Smirnov was bouting in foil. During this match, Matthias Behr's weapon splintered and went through Smirnov's mask. The fragment went through Smirnov's eye and caused him to die nine days later. This incident caused the FIE to redesign how blades break. They now break straight across without any splintering. (We mainly wear our gear to protect from injuries caused by broken blades). Coach Katie
How can I practice fencing at home?
You can practice fencing at home in a few ways. Footwork can be done anywhere. A pool noodle, cut in half, can create two swords. There is also coordination and balance that fencers should work on outside of class to improve their reflexes. Coach Katie
Which country is the best at fencing?
While France and Italy are considered powerhouses of the fencing world, many individuals from various countries hold the top spots.
The following fencers are currently ranked number one in the world:
Hungarian Anna Maria Popescu: Women's Epee
Russian Sergey Bida: Men's Epee
Russian Inna Derigazova: Women's Foil
Italian Alessio Foconi: Men's Foil
Ukrainian Olga Kharlan: Women's Saber
Korean Oh Sanguk: Men's Saber
Korea also holds the top team spot for Men's saber. Women's team saber number one in Russia.
The United States is the top of the Men's foil team. Russian women hold the top foil team spot.
France is the Men's epee team number one. China holds the Women's epee team spot.
What is the most popular fencing?
The most popular type of fencing is sport fencing. You can see this type of fencing all over the world. Many countries now have national teams that compete at international events. While it has always been popular in Europe, it has been slower to spread in places such as Africa but, this is changing very quickly. The first time an African stepped on the podium in the Olympics was in 2012 where Alaaeldin Abouelkassem won silver for Egypt. The sports fencing world's largest events are the yearly world championships, the Paris world cup, and the Olympics. There are other fencing types such as HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and other sword martial arts such as Japanese Kendo. The other martial arts are not as popular worldwide as fencing and usually are primarily practiced in the area they originated in.
The most popular weapon in fencing varies by country, but in the United States, the most popular weapon is foil. The US men's foil team has been points leaders for the past four years and won the world championship in 2019. Women's saber is also very popular in the US, with the first Olympic women's fencing medal for the US being won by Mariel Zagunis in 2004. That was also the first Olympic gold in fencing for the US in a century. Coach David
What do fencers say when they win?
In tournament competitions, it is best not to say anything that could offend other competition members. Usually, a short "good job" or "nice fencing" is an excellent way to end a match on good terms. Saying things that antagonize either an official or opponent can lead to penalties and suspension from a tournament. Being arrogant or aggressive, while not necessarily illegal, can create a hostile environment.
The previous advice is still good during practices, but you usually want to help your teammate when you win. Offer some advice or comments on their fencing. Give positive feedback on what they do well and suggest some things they can work on. Overall, it's best not to say anything in an aggressive tone because they can become defensive, which never helps. Coach David
Why do fencers scream?
Screaming aftertouch is a natural reaction for most fencers. It is an excellent way to celebrate nice touches, but it also has a phycological reason. The scream can help energize a fencer and get them in the right headspace. When a fencer is feeling down or not in the right headspace for a match, screaming can help them concentrate on the game.
These are all excellent reasons to scream, but there are other less favorable reasons. Screaming can be done to intimidate an opponent. It can also be done to annoy them and get them frustrated. Screaming is within the rules for what is allowed for celebration, but actions, signals, or excessive celebration is illegal and will warrant a penalty. Still screaming can be done to throw opponents off their game or get you into the right headspace. Coach David
NB: New rules for Fencing Disallow Screaming because of COVID
Research has shown that virus transmission occurs at higher rates when individuals scream or yell due to the increased propulsion of droplets through the air. Accordingly, yelling after a touch, or at any time during about, will be prohibited. As this is a significant change to a habit for many fencers, referees are advised to warn fencers rather than issuing an immediate penalty verbally. If, after warnings, the referee determines an athlete is deliberately violating the reminder not to scream, the referee can award a Group 1 penalty for refusal to obey the referee resulting in a yellow card for the first infraction and red cards for subsequent infractions. The referee also has the authority to award a Group 3 penalty for disturbing order on the strip, which results in a red card for the first infraction and a black card and exclusion from the tournament for subsequent infractions. USA Fencing Rule
Is fencing a lifetime sport?
Fencing is one of the few sports that has avid members and participants from ages 8 to 78. With veteran tournaments going up to age 80 and youth tournaments starting before the age of 10, there is no set age that one has to be to fence. Much like the world of tennis, youth is not everything. Even at high levels, older fencers routinely win big events. In 2015 Geza Imre won gold at the world championships at the age of 41. Peter Joppich was a four-time world champion who fenced well into his 30s at the highest level. Coach David
Does fencing hurt?
Being a combat sport, you may think that sore bumps and hard hits are the norms. While this is partially true, fencing equipment has become better at protecting fencers from hits that can injure. Thanks to many equipment regulations, stabbing through the armor is very difficult, and touches will rarely draw blood. Many of the worst hits will result in bruising and a little more. In general, these hard touches are very rare and are easy to get used to. Do expect that you may have an occasional bruise or bump, but in general, most of the pain will come from the intense workouts and fast footwork that is common in fencing. You will be more sore from training the muscle than the hits you receive. Coach David
What is the best age to start fencing?
While there is no deadline or set age to start fencing, the general rule is the earlier, the better. Most Olympians and world team members started before the age of 10. Those that didn't start that young often did not start any later than the age of 12. Every member of the US foil team was competing in national events before the age of 12. This is common not only in the US but also in Europe. The data is very clear: when it comes to the highest-level athletes, you almost have to start early. Of course, this only applies to the highest level. There are many cases of NCAA athletes and national-level athletes that started much later.
Of course, if you don't want to become a high-level athlete, any age will be perfect to start. More mature fencers will be able to grow no matter the age they start. A less mature fencer that starts earlier probably will not end up better than a fencer who trains harder but started much later. Sometimes starting later can be an advantage as the fencer will take in information and knowledge easier. No matter what age you start, the most important thing is dedication and training. With those two things and the joy of fencing, age becomes a mere number. Coach David
The Bottom Line
Should your kid do Fencing?
Of course! It's easy to try, and the first lesson is free.
This piece covered individual sports' benefits, the low injury rate of fencers, and how Fencing is a lifelong sport.
If this sounds intriguing to you, please get in contact or drop by.