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Fencing - debunking the myths

Author: Sam Stevenson Published: 1st August 2009 17:29

Having recently taken up the sport of fencing with much enthusiasm, I have been surprised at just how many misconceptions there are about the sport...

1.  It's too expensive

It's a common misconception that fencing is expensive to do, because of all the equipment required.  Actually, this couldn't be further from the truth, as most clubs include the loan of the clothing and equipment within their membership fees. 

For instance, a typical adult beginners' fencing course is about £50, with a similar termly membership fee.  Golf lessons would be far in excess of this (and you have to buy the clubs!) - and even a term of pilates or yoga would cost around £70!

2.  It's elitist

Well it's true that you don't see as much of it around, and it tends to have a greater presence in public schools, but:

  • Children as young as 6 can do it
  • There's a thriving 'veterans' circuit
  • Girls and women can do it
  • Boys and men can do it
  • You don't have to be fit to start learning (but you will get fit!)
  • It's a para-olympic sport

So who's excluded??!! 

3.  It's not really a sport

Actually, it's been an Olympic sport since the modern games began!  Common with most other sports, it requires techique, timing, tactics and training.  It is also one of the few Western Martial Arts, and combines the elements of strategy and combat like the eastern martial arts.

4.  It's just sword play like the films

It's true that the sword fights you see in films have their origins in the techniques of fencing, but the movements in sport fencing are very much more subtle; smaller and controlled.  It really is a game of physical skill and mental agility.

5.  I might get hurt

You're probably more likely to get hurt playing football, as the layers of clothing, mask and glove you use for fencing ensure that when you get hit, you are well protected.

6.  No one else does it

It's not as common as other sports, but it's the fasting growing minority sport in the US, and what happens there does tend to come over here pretty quickly!  Fencing has just received sports funding for the first time in the UK, so is set to grow over the next few years, especially through the junior section.

7.  It's not very sociable

On the contrary!  Men and women (and older juniors) train and fight together at club level, so it's an excellent way of meeting new people with a common interest.

8.  There are no clubs around here

The growing popularity and increased funding of fencing mean that new clubs are popping up all over.  If you're local to Epsom, for example, Epsom Fencing Club is a new club that runs beginners course at Blenheim High School on Wednesday evenings.  For details of other clubs in your area, have a look on the British Fencing website.

So, if you're bored of the gym and want to do something that won't cost the earth to lose weight / keep fit and healthy / keep your mind agile, I hope I've convinced you to try this exciting and enjoyable sport!
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