History of Fencing

Fencing rewards the cunning: young or old, female or male, fast or slow, each are equally competitive.  It is a different experience for each individual student and everyone has their own “super-moves.”  There is no perfect move or unifying style that everyone must conform to.  And the science of fencing is constantly evolving from its curious, pugilistic beginnings in the Middle Ages.

Two armored knights bashing each other with broadswords is what some may think of when they hear the word fencing.  A broadsword, however, is simply a sharp club.  The true sport and science of fencing began with the small sword and the idea that thrusts were more effective (i.e. deadlier) than slashes.  Agile and lightweight, a rogue with a small sword could dance around an opponent’s defense and stab him in an unprotected area.  People at the time lamented, “Oh no!  We’ll never see another good sword fight!”  But this new way of fighting was really the birth of a new sport!

Self-proclaimed and dubious fencing masters invented their own styles, and spread their teachings all over Europe.  But it was the French and Germans who further developed fencing into a sport.  “Academic” fencing arose from German dueling fraternities, where a fencer wasn’t popular until he was inflicted with a facial scar.  The rules were simple: the first to bleed - lost the bout! 

As fencing evolved into the sport we know today, the rules didn’t change much, but the equipment did.  Instead of actually drawing blood, fencers would wear white uniforms and fence with foiled weapons (real weapons that had been blunted for the purpose of practice).  These “foils” had red chalk at the tip of the blade, which would leave a mark on the white jacket - signifying first blood, or a touch.

Today, fencers use electronic scoring machines and have 3 different weapons to choose from.  Fencing was adopted into the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and has been included at every Olympic Games since.

Fencing is a philosophical sport.  It is as physical as basketball, as personally rewarding as karate, and as cerebral as a chess game.  Pick a weapon and try it out!  You may be an undiscovered fencing champion!

Learn Fencing!

“It takes skill to get close.  It takes more skill to stay there.”

 - Bruce Lee