Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pointy Metal Sticks

I gave a quick salute, double checking my foot position as I put on my mask, adjusted my grip on the foil, coming on guard to face my opponent. Advance, advance, parry, retreat, advance, retreat, parry lunge, repost, laugh a bit, parry, retreat, advance, lunge, lunge, lunge, Gotcha!

For 5 weekends (off and on) Paul and I have been taking fencing lessons. (No, no post hole diggers in this class.) Fencing - as in the pointy metal stick version. I've dreamed of learning to fence for a long time... definitely high school, maybe even in grade school. So when the opportunity of taking an 8 week course in beginning foil with the Huntsville Fencing Club I was stoked! I told Paul about it and asked if he'd like to join me. I'm pretty sure Paul never jumped out of bed in the morning with the idea he wanted to learn fencing, but I do think he's enjoying it so far.

And me? Well I'm loving it! Don't think I'm going to turn into Errol Flynn or anything, but I'm holding my own fairly well. What I've seen of competitive fencing is a far cry from all the fancy sword work in Flynn's (or Princess Bride, or Highlander) movies anyway. First off you and your opponent face each other in a straight line - there aren't any rocks, steps, or battleship decks to work on and over. Its also a heck of a lot faster. You use much smaller more controlled movements, often with just a twist of your wrist as opposed to your whole arm. If you tried doing all that fancy stuff you see in the movies - you'd have 5 touches against you even before you straightened out your arm to lunge.

There are 7 of us in the class. Ben, our fencing instructor has told us our class has been making some very good progress - and that overall - we're a bit ahead of the curve. At the end of the past two classes he's let us free-fence for the last 15 to 20 minutes. The first three classes concentrated on history, basic footwork, offense and defense. We've gone on to more complicated parries and combinations of footwork and attacks in the past two classes, culminating in trying to put it all together in the free-fencing at the end. Its really interesting to fence with different people and see what everyone does - each seem have their own forte - speed, defense, parrying, attacks - which eventually will turn into their own personal style depending on what type of fencing they decide to pick up.

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At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

National High School Fencing Blog

Please look this over. We have been contacting high school fencing programs across the country and posting this site on various blogs. It will become a center point of high school fencing as we have plans to develop this into fully operationally web site capable of posting high school results in every state. What this translates into a potential source of new fencers for your club and quite possibly the development/furtherance of high school in your area.

The purpose of this site is to further High School Fencing in the United States. Coaches and High School Administrators are invited to post results and commentary. Fencers and Parents are invited to post commentary, not results. We have received positive feedback from several college coaches with regard to the creation of this blog. This is not a site intended to cause pain or grief, but rather give national prominence to the Athletes and the Sport.

We at Proprintwear are proud of our association with the sport of fencing. Our owner was first a Fencer, secondly a National Referee and now a business owner committed to furthering the image of fencing.

We have added a “Where to Fence” and “Fencing Camp” Sections for advertising fencing clubs and fencing camps. If you like to be posted send us a request. This could be extremely helpful in the recruitment of new fencers.

One of the many challenges facing fencing today is the” unknown”. Up until now I have been of the opinion that no one individual and/or group has focused in on the area of High School Fencing across the United States. It is our hope that by publishing the various leagues and affiliates that this somehow creates a knowledge base beneficial to the growth of High School Fencing as well as on the national front. On Long Island we have enjoyed High School Fencing for more than 46 years with as many as eleven (11) teams in one county and seven (7) in the neighboring county. For the last several years Long Island has held a Long Island Championship and I am making plans of hosting a State Championship within the next few years.

You will find a short survey at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to contact us with suggested questions at If this site is well received, we shall have a web site constructed to further enhance the development of High School Fencing in the United States.

If possible please provide us with a link to our website using the attached file at and a second link to our High School Fencing Blog at

Philip J. Daly


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