History of Fencing
Fencing was included for the first time at the 1896 Games in Athens, and has remained on the Olympic programme since then. The women’s fencing competition entered the Games in 1924 in Paris. Today, men and women compete in individual and team events, in which three types of weapon are used: foil, epee and sabre. The foil was, at first, the only weapon used by women, until the 1996 Games in Atlanta, when women’s epee was introduced. Women’s sabre appeared for the first time on the Olympic programme in Athens in 2004.
Benefits of Fencing
Fencing can help people build their strength on many levels, especially in children. How many sports do you know of that can give the children both physical and mental challenges while building their confidence, social skills, and academic future? Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what fencing can do.
With its rapid footwork and thrusting, people get a high-impact aerobic workout. You can think of fencing as a type of dance, because we use the same sort of skill set – understanding timing, tempo, measure and velocity. Likewise, in the dance of fencing, the student has to develop a sense of body awareness, not only knowing how their own body is positioned, but how they are positioned in relation to his or her opponent. This body awareness is something that transcends beyond fencing – it’s a huge part of healthy living!
Fencing is also a terrific stress reliever. People can release their aggression and frustration through fencing in a controlled environment. When they go to the strip, nothing else matters. All problems and worries melt away – as they concentrate on technique and strategy. Some high school students say that fencing is their escape from the pressures of peers and school.
Fencing is like a game of physical chess: Every move by the opponent spurs a reaction and response. The key is learning to think strategically so that you can score a hit, or point. While coaches provide a lot of guidance and training during practice, the real mental challenge comes on the strip when the fencer is squaring off against his/her opponent. There, all the thinking that goes on is independent. The fencer has to learn to focus, be intuitive, and stay in the moment. By the way, colleges LOVE fencers! Many colleges actively recruit applicants with fencing backgrounds, even going as far as to offer fencing scholarships.
Fencing is a wonderful tool to bolster confidence. To meet an opponent’s attack, the fencer has to be quick on their feet with their defensive strategy; this means there’s no time for second-guessing oneself. Fencing requires bold moves and self-assuredness both in defense and offense. This is the one sport where size doesn’t matter, only skill. This is one of the few sports that evens the playing field between size, age, sexes, ethnicity and personality. It's hard to think of another sport that even comes close to doing that! Likewise, fencing is a sport where parents and children can compete together. It’s a great way for a family to bond closely by sharing the same passion and vision in a sport – especially during the teenage years when the ties with our kids can become strained.
One of the biggest benefits of the fencing sport is the opportunity to make friends. Fencing bridges the gap between age differences, sexes, size, and ethnicity – opening the door to a network of friends that might not have been available through everyday venues such as school. The fencers get exposed to many different types of personalities and experiences they might not have otherwise faced. Fencing is one of the few sports where kids can compete not only on a local level, but nationally and internationally as well. Fencers often have the ability to meet — and even compete against — professional fencers on a regular basis. This is not something likely to happen in other sports such as basketball or baseball. Interacting with their fencing idols and competing outside their locale can have an enormous impact on a young child.