Fencing - Chess on Legs
Or so my instructor calls it.
It's certainly fun and a lot more strenuous on both mind and body than you'd imagine of a sport which, at first sight, simply involves thrashing at your opponent until you beat them into submission.
I don't really know why fencing appealed to me, but it has done for a long time. As a sport it seems to have a lot going for it.
- It's relatively cheap for around £150 you can kit yourself out, and all the equipment is readily available on loan at clubs and courses.
- It seems fairly evenly matched between men and women. Brute force doesn't usually win the day, it's all about quick reactions, manouevring your opponent and yourself into a position to take a point and learning from your opponent about where they are weak.
- It requires a fair amount of agility ,flexibility and exertion to fence with someone, although it does seem that a good fencer (like my instructor) can make mincemeat of useless fencers (like me!) without breaking into a sweat.
There are different types of fencing. I fence with a foil, which is where most beginners start, but also the most technical type of fencing. Epee fencing is similar, being another stabbing weapon (all sporting blades are designed not to run the opponent through), whereas the Sabre was originally a cavalry weapon and involves slashing as well as stabbing actions. This document describes the differences well.
For a quick overview of where fencing originated, click here.
Digrasse is an old text on the art of dueling, rather than true, sporting, fencing, but much of the tactical advice is valid and its interesting to read about, what I guess is, pure fencing.
Another good fencing site, with lots more information on taking it up and how to do it properly can be found here.
Finally, if you think I'm a bit enthusiastic about fencing, someone here is just not getting out enough - It's good to keep a sense of proportion!