Training fencing

Published on April 4th, 2014 | by Joe Starks


Exercise Spotlight: Fencing

Fencing is arguably one of the most elegant and sophisticated sports. It has a romantic side, reminding us of medieval duels and honor. On the other hand it is also an exciting sport to watch at the Olympics and in various tournaments. It was the Germanic tribes, who took over Europe after the Roman Empire, who first saw dueling as a great means to settle disputes. Later on, in 1480, dueling was banned in Spain, but at the same time the first fencing schools we know of were opened. It was the Italians who made fencing into the sport it is today. What most can certainly agree on is that both the romance and history of fencing is an allure, which has made the sport popular all over the world.

Training for fencing

Fencing is a very complicated sport. It needs very good conditioning of the body, with balance and flexibility being very important. Fencing also needs a very sharp mind and a competitive spirit. It is not a sport for the passive sportsman. Fencing needs a lot of passion and control.

The most important skills to hone for fencing are:

  • Target-Hitting. You simply can’t fence well if you don’t train to hit small targets again and again with high precision. Usually it is enough to train 10-20 minutes every day, trying to hit the center of an X on the wall with the tip of your weapon.
  • Footwork. Lunging, retreating and attacking forward, all need great leg power, not only strength. You need to be fast and precise with how you move your legs and that can only be achieved with continuous effort and training.
  • Strategy. You have to try and “read” your opponent’s intentions and react to them. You also have to be able to think a few movements ahead. While fencing you need to be open to many possibilities and prepare for them mentally. Fencing is an excellent sport to develop better planning abilities.
  • Arm Power. Holding your weapon and moving it takes a lot of practice. It might seem easy for the first few minutes, but it becomes harder and harder. Fencing demands great endurance and strength in the arms. Sadly, the sport tends to train your dominant arm more than your non-dominant one.
  • Finesse. Fencing isn’t just a bludgeoning and slicing affair. You need to move elegantly and spend as little energy as possible. Your movements have to be graceful, aiming more to be precise, rather than aggressive and deadly.

Fencing should not be viewed as the continuation of the deadly sword fighting of medieval ages. It is a sport to hone your power and mind, not a means to learn how to hurt others. Fencing can be extremely enjoyable for all ages when there is a good trainer and a lot of mutual respect.

Benefits of Fencing

Fencing is actually a good sport for children to learn. Children should ALWAYS train under supervision and should be taught very thoroughly the meaning of respect and friendly competition. Studies have shown that fencing can help overactive children or kids with ADHD focus better in their lives. It is the combination of rigorous activity and precise control that can help overactive kids be in control of their nerves and thoughts.

Fencing is just as great for adults. Depending on one’s age and fitness, intensity might have to be lower, but it can be just as thrilling and entertaining a sport.

Among the many benefits of fencing you can count:

  1. Honing of mental skills. You learn to plan ahead and strategize.
  2. Training the whole body. The exercises you need to do to become great at fencing tackle almost every major muscle group. You get fit all over.
  3. Team Spirit. You train with a team and work alongside others, which gives a great social aspect to fencing.
  4. You learn to compete alone. In matches you are always alone, fully responsible of your defeat or victory. This can help people develop a greater sense of responsibility and focus.

There are some downsides to the sport. Fencing is medium to high impact and should not be done by people who are ill or very old. Children should not be left training with weapon unsupervised, since most kids can’t grasp the danger of “playing” with sports equipment like this.

All in all fencing is a very elegant and thrilling sport, which makes it popular worldwide.


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