Photo by Alexandra Kanash
Typically, people think about boxing, wrestling or other forms of mixed martial arts when they hear of combat sports. However, one combat sport that has become fairly prominent around the world and is still growing in popularity is fencing.
Fencing is a sport involving two people who duel, choosing between three different types of swords that incorporate different fighting styles to score points based on the weapon’s contact with the opponent.
The three main weapons of fencing are the foil, the épée and the sabre. The foil is light and flexible, used for light–thrusting, while the épée is heavy, used for heavy–thrusting. The sabre is a weapon used for both thrusting and cutting with the cutting edge and back of the blade.
Depending on the weapon of choice, each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, each weapon has different rules and regulations on where they can land a hit on their opponent to score a point.
Points can only be scored with the tip of the blade in the torso if fencers are using foil. They cannot score points from hits to the arms, legs, neck and head.
Épée swords are typically more difficult to use because they are heavier while foil swords weigh significanly less, therefore points can be scored anyware.
Fencers using the sabre can score with the side as well as the tip of the weapon with contact anywhere above the waist except the hands. Fencing is a sport that requires the full concentration of the mind and body. It requires more precision and tactile moves rather than brute force and strength.
“Fencing is more of a sport of precision than it is of endurance,” said Alexander Chi ‘23. “Other combat sports like boxing or martial arts are sports of pure strength. If you can overpower your opponent, then you will most likely win. In fencing, there is a mental aspect of it. You have to beat them physically as well as to overcome them mentally.”
Fencing can be mentally draining, as fencers need to be able to predict their opponent’s moves while thinking of the best way to strike to earn a point.
“Fencing requires a great deal of mental focus without realizing it,” said American Fencer Iris Zimmermann in an interview with kidsoutandabout.com. “In order to be successful, you need to plan your next move and watch your opponent’s moves. Because fencers are engaged in a physical activity that they enjoy, they don’t realize the amount of mental effort they are exerting.”
Unlike boxing or mixed martial arts, fencing is a sport for all ages. Because of all the protective gear that fencers are required to wear, fencing is extremely safe and Olympic competitions rank it as having one of the lowest injury rates. This allows for children as young as the age of seven to start fencing.
“I was ten years old when I started fencing,” said Dennis Kanash ‘22. “Fencing is enjoyable for the reason that it challenges you against opponents who are more experienced than you, and the feeling that you are in a duel gets your adrenaline pumping.”