Have you ever been so absorbed in something that you lose all sense of time? To me this is the best way to forget about your problems, relieve stress and live in the moment. Well, there’s not much that’s more absorbing than trying to stop someone running you through with a yard of steel. Fencing is a brilliant stress reliever that engages you mentally as much as physically
Mentally fencing is very similar to a game of chess. As a fencer you’re constantly trying to outwit your opponent. Your brain works hard and fast, trying to answer the questions —
- Do you attack first or defend and wait for an opportunity to hit back?
- How do you attack and where?
- How do you control your panic as they try to hit you and how do you stop them?
- How do you get them to attack so that you can hit them with your favourite counter attack?
But at the same time you’re trying desperately to score a hit and (usually), even more desperately, to avoid your opponent’s blade.The permutations are unlimited and it’s intensely one on one. It’s this element of mental skill which allows anyone, of any age and physical ability, to compete.
Physically, fencing can be as demanding as you want it to be. I started fencing in my early twenties and my coach is still fencing in his eighties. I’ve watched six-foot tall fencers being beaten by four-foot tall opponents and twelve year olds beating thirty year olds. Wheelchair fencing is a Paralympic Sport and fencing is open to anyone. You can adapt your technique to suit your physique, speed it up or slow it down and play aggressively or passively. And of course, those lunges are great exercise if you want to tighten your tush!
Fair play and a sense of tradition are an integral part of the sport. It’s very gentlemanly. Fencers always salute before trying to stab each other, and always shake hands after the victory or ignominious defeat!