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A Parents’ Guide to Fencing

Why should your children fence?youth_fencing_lunge

1. Fun

Why is it fun? It inspires imagination. It’s not hard for your children to imagine they are Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader, Zorro cutting imaginary “Z’s” on the neck of their friends or that they are Inigo Montoya  dueling Wesley in The Princess Bride. We can encourage this behavior in an ideal setting where they can have an incredible amount of fun and live out their dreams.

2. Fencing is for everyone

Unlike most other sports, there is no ideal body type for a fencer. How can that be? Winning at fencing is a combination of many things: the mind of a chess player (watching for your opponent’s openings), the face of a poker player (bluffing your opponent), the flexibility of a gymnast (good for lunging), the hand-eye coordination of a calligrapher (Zorro would not be able to Z without it), and the endurance of a marathoner (to win a tournament with over 100 competitors). No child or adult, for that matter, is going to come into fencing with all of these different attributes.

Fencers are all different ages, sizes, and body types. Successful fencers will find a way to win no matter their body type. At the Arkansas Fencing Center we train each fencer with techniques to complement their strengths and supplement their weaknesses. Ultimately, if your child sticks with fencing, they will be able to make their body type work to their advantage.

3. Self-control

Imagine standing there when a person suddenly moves quickly toward you with a sword pointed at you. What do you do? Tell your feet to move backwards, your hand to move your sword to block theirs, tell your mind to stop racing and think what you are going to do if you stop this attack.

As a fencer, you will need to have the self-control to tell your body to handle these three different actions at one time. Compare this with other sports that have you just try to kick or hit the ball. The strategy and self-control is an afterthought. In fencing, self-control and body-control are what keep you from getting hit.

By fencing, your child will gain greater self-control and increase concentration. Soon enough, this self-control will begin to extend to other aspects of their life.

4. Respect

Each bout that your child fences at the Northwest Arkansas Fencing Center start in the same way: with a respectful salute of the sword to his opponent, to the referee, and to the audience.

When fencing without referees, fencers are trained to acknowledge their opponents’ touches and often times even with referee, fencers will acknowledge an opponents’ touch.

Imagine in many team sports like softball or baseball, if the 1st baseman said to the umpire, “he was safe.” Or, imagine in football if a defensive player spoke up, “my opponents’ feet were in bounds and their touchdown should count.” While a rarity in most sports, this is commonplace in fencing and behavior encouraged and instilled by our coaches.

At the end of the bout, there is a required handshake among opponents. Winning and losing gracefully is not only encouraged, it is expected, along with maintaining respect for the fencers and the referees.

Fencing is a sanctuary of civility and fencers for centuries have acknowledged the successes of their opponents. This level of civility goes a long way into making fencing a more respectful sport than most.

5. Socialization

Socialization is an important element of life. If your child takes a fencing class, they will likely take this class with children from a different school or perhaps a home school. By learning to meet new kids, your child will learn to interact with others.

There is general camaraderie at tournaments among fencers who see each other again and again. Fencers soon learn that it is advantageous to win and lose gracefully to continue to keep your opponents as friends.

6. Travel/Tournaments

As parents and children, fencing affords the opportunity to travel to various tournaments. The experienced fencers of the Northwest Arkansas Fencing Center travel to local, regional, and national tournaments.

Here are some of the locations that our fencers have visited or will visit in the coming year: Dallas, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Austin, Kansas City and Portland.

While we cannot promise that all fencing tournaments will be in ideal destinations, fencing offers the opportunity to visit a new places and meet new people from not only across the country but from around the world.

Fencing tournaments are usually held in the off-season of a hosting city, making travel and accommodations more affordable to fencers. Some parents have found that fencing tournaments have afforded them the opportunity (or excuse) to get away that they might not have had.

7. College

Whether your child’s goals are to fence at a NCAA level or to fence at a recreational level, college is one of the greatest reasons to fence.

Colleges are always looking for well-rounded individuals for their schools. Fencing can provide a terrific entrée to the elite schools by giving your child a skill that few possess, but these elite schools desire.

The schools that have NCAA programs are looking for both men and women to fill out their roster spots. Some of these schools offer fencing scholarships.

Even if you aren’t one of the top fencers, fencing can add an athletic element to any application. Nearly all colleges and universities have either NCAA or a club fencing program.

Most people learn fencing in college classes, but your child will learn fencing beforehand and therefore be more attractive to the school.