Fencing is a sport for everybody. It challenges both body and mind through a unique blend of skill, discipline, competitiveness and athleticism. It is a wonderful sport to watch in action, even better to play en piste.
What is Fencing?
Adapted from FFE website. Translated by M Brill
Fencing is a modern sport and ancient art. It comes to us from across hundreds of years of history, from an era of chivalry. Today we have a fast, dynamic and physically demanding activity. An activity which combines grace and rhythm of movement with strength, power and flexibility. It is an activity for leisure, for fun or sport. It can be for recreation, theatre/artistic performance or competition. In effect fencing offers a range of options, for anyone with a taste for exercise and effort. The aspect of a combat solicits the need for thought, reflection, observation and analysis, as in a game of chess.
Fencing as a sport is three disciplines in one sport. There are three weapons; foil, epee and sabre. Each weapon has its own history, rules, and characteristics, which lead to their own techniques and methods. All three have an electrical scoring system for registering the hits and points.
- The combat between partners is called a bout.
- The main objective is to hit without being hit, on the valid target, while staying in a defined area (piste).
- Hit the other fencer on the valid target to score a point.
- Hit the other fencer more often than you have been hit yourself to win.
The Benefits From Fencing:
Fencing is a combat sport, a sport of opposition. The confrontation with a weapon in hand results in having rules for safety, to ensure the fencers are able to fence and practice safely. The weapon creates a relationship between the two fencers, both psychological and the physical pyscho-motor resposnes. As with all opposition sports, it is an individual sport played in pairs where surpassing yourself is only possible through the other. Expert manipulation of the weapon relies upon physical strength. Self-control is needed to master the impulse for excessive force and violent action. On the other hand, people who are normally reserved, find freedom for self-expression when wearing the mask. The weapon permits the balance of forces between students to be re-established.
Psychological Benefits From Fencing
- SELF-CONFIDENCE: Wearing the mask allows the students to express themselves more freely. They learn to simply count on themselves in order to finish as a winner in the confrontation.
- COURTESY AND LOYALTY: Ceremony is an external sign of the tacit engagement in respect of the other. The referee establishes a climate of politeness; salute the partner and referee at the beginning and end of the bout. Then at the end of the bout, after the salute, shaking hands brings the display of courtesy towards the partner, no matter whether they are stronger or weaker.
- ATTENTION: The main quality developed by fencing. The situation, face to face in a limited space, where the visual field is constrained, favours concentration. It is indispensable for observation of the partner’s actions and reactions.
- SELF-MASTERY: The constant need to control the fencer’s actions and anticipate the partner’s reactions requires mastery of the fencer’s emotions (impulsiveness, frustration, anger, anxiety, despair, desperation, resignation, excessive enthusiasm)
- PYSCHO-MOTOR BENEFITS FROM FENCING
- SENSORY INTEGRATION AND CO-ORDNATION: The uses of a weapon in the 3D space results in improved spatial and body awareness. The nature of the fencing game means that flexion and extension of the arms and legs are used.
- REINFORCES HANDEDNESS: The fencing stance helps to reinforce handedness as does the manipulation of the weapon in the hand.
- BALANCE: Acquired through the different footwork; steps, jumps and lunges.
- SPATIAL AWARENESS: The management of the distance between the fencers and the actions that occur in the space develops improved spatial awareness.
- COORDINATION SPECFIC TO FENCING: This is demonstrated by the action of the hand and arm preceding the legs.
- RHYTHM: All movement requires a rhythm and timing. This need is reinforced as each fencer's movements have to be aligned and co-ordinated with the partners.
- INFORMATION PROCESSSING: Each situation, foreseen and unforeseen, brings about an appropriate adapted response.
- REFLEX: The combat / oppositional essence of the bout is balanced with the co-ordination of movements and actions to the partners movements and actions. The ever changing distance and speed within the bouts reinforces the need for spatial and temporal co-ordination and adaptative skill. This is reflected in the development of fencer's anticpatory skills when fully engaged in the the dynamic and ever changing environment of the fencing bout.
- PRECISION: Hand-eye co-ordination is developed with the point going to the target.
To find out how you can try fencing contact your local club.