Fencing is a little-known sport in Canada, but it’s a sport with an amazing history! Canada is rising on the international scene. Here are a few cool facts about fencing you probably didn’t know:
While the sport is still small, it is growing in popularity. Families have noticed the way that it balances athletic training, technical proficiency, and strategic thinking. It also provides kids a chance to play and compete as individuals, but practice and train as a team. There is
even a team event kids can participate in!
There are many clubs in the city of Calgary, and this would be a great place for parents to look for classes. Summer camps are just around the corner, and one of the many camps around the city would be a great introduction. Some of the Olympians living in our city started at beginner summer camps!
The sport of fencing has three events using three slightly different weapons: epee, foil, and saber. Each club will have different specialties, with some providing classes for all weapons. Many clubs will have fencers start with foil fencing because it has the most similarities with the other two weapons so fencers can choose to stay in foil, or switch to epee or saber.
All three events are in the Olympics, and competitive fencers tend to specialize in one weapon because there are important differences in the target area and rules that change the way the game is played. This is great, because it means that fencers can choose which weapon they fence depending on their strengths and personality. It’s a sport that caters to many different types of participants and athletes!
When fencing epee, the target is the whole body – you can even get a point for hitting the toe! The fencers must be cautious to not get hit so it looks like a strategic game of cat and mouse. In foil and saber, the targets are restricted to the upper body and, because these weapons have rules that benefit the attacker, the fencers are much more likely to attack than in epee. While in foil and epee, the fencers hit with the tip, saber fencers hit with the side of the blade – this makes defending even harder! Some have described saber fencing as somewhat like jousting because of its major emphasis on attacking.
Clubs usually provide all the necessary equipment so starting isn’t difficult! There is a degree of focus and manual dexterity needed, so coaches often recommend starting between age eight and 13. One of the great things about fencing is that almost anyone can participate. Many clubs have fencers from age six all the way up to 70! Fencing is also in the Paralympics, so some clubs will offer adaptive options. One of the best things about fencing is that there are lots of opportunities to compete past high school. Many fencers will compete throughout university and beyond, in the national circuit, at Ontario University Athletics, and NCAAs in the USA.
Fencing doesn’t have a league like soccer or baseball. Fencers train two to five times per week and compete in tournaments on the weekend on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. There are a lot of regional and provincial tournaments in Alberta. Once fencers feel comfortable competing in their club, they will start to compete provincially, and then they may begin to look outside the province for competitions or even outside the country!
This summer, why not give fencing a try? It’s tons of fun for everyone!
Kelleigh is a perennial student (graduate of three degrees in sociology, political science and kinesiology), personal trainer at Lion Ethik (lionethik.com) and coach at Epic Fencing. Kelleigh is part of Canada’s women’s foil team, who were the victors of the Pan American Games (Toronto 2015) and Championships (Asuncion 2022) and regularly achieve top-eight results at world events. She is a top-eight finisher at the 2022 Tokyo Games and the 2022 Tauberbischofsheim World Cup.
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