Olympics 2012: how to get involved in fencing


En guarde! You will pay for your disrespect earlier when I said Domino was Jessie J's best song and you said "Whatever Trevor". Defend yourself! Not like that. Come on, your stance is all wrong. And your grip. And get back behind the line until the referee says! You know what, forget it, let's do rock-paper-scissors.

The basics

Fencing takes place on a strip called a "piste", and a bout consists of two competitors trying to score a set number of "hits", usually five, inside a time limit. In the foil class, the target area is the torso – hits on the limbs or mask don't count – and are scored only when made with the tip of the foil, a bendy comedy sword. A peculiar "right of way" protocol is observed, with opponents taking turns to attack and losing the imperative when they bend the sword arm to withdraw or have their blade beaten away. After mastering the foil, you might graduate to the epée, a heavier weapon for which the target area is the whole body, and the sabre, for which it is the upper body. Never turn your back during a fight – there's a gap between your mask and collar where you aren't protected.

Health benefits

Improves balance, flexibility, reaction speed and coordination, and is a hugely intensive cardio workout.

Equipment, costs and practicalities

Fencing isn't a particularly expensive sport to pick up. There are lots of fencing clubs throughout the UK, many of which offer evening classes – the membership fee will include teaching and equipment hire. Manchester Fencing Club offers monthly 90-minute coaching sessions for beginners, costing £10, to help people decide whether they want to take up the sport. You can find your nearest club using this tool on the British Fencing website. Once you get going, you can buy the required equipment piece by piece, with a foil costing around £25, a mask around £35 and a fencing jacket around £45.

Trendiness rating: 3/10

You wouldn't argue with someone wielding a sword, but then you probably don't go to suburban sports halls to heckle. Not the most high-profile of pursuits.

Inside line

Karim Bashir, British Fencing: "Fencing is a fantastically physical sport that tones you head to toe. Core strength is crucial, aiding people with posture issues or back problems, and if you want your legs toned there's nothing better. It's so easy to start fencing. Just go to the club finder on britishfencing.com and turn up to your local club with a tracksuit and a change of T-shirt. They'll have the rest. Oh, and take some water!"

Find out more

British Fencing – the official website for the organisation governing professional and amateur fencing in Britain.

Welsh Fencing

Scottish Fencing

England Fencing

Northern Ireland Fencing

You may also like

Taekwondo, table tennis.

You might hate

Canoeing, sailing.

Over to you

Are you a fencer? Help us build up this resource by sharing tips, videos, links to clubs and anything else that beginners might find useful.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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