By Ria Patel
St. Mary’s places at the top of school fencing teams in Memphis, yet many of us don’t know that much about the sport. Keep reading to find 6 things you didn’t know about fencing!
1.) There are actually three types of fencing.
The first type is foil, in which you can only hit the opponent’s torso. In foil, there is a concept called ‘right of way,’ a rule that determines who gets a point if two fencers hit each other at the same time. The second type of fencing is saber, similar to foil but in which you can hit the entire upper body to gain a point. Finally, there is epee. In epee, there is no defense or offense, and the game consists of less rules. This is most likely the fencing you are seeing in the Olympics.
2.) Fencing is a sport of respect.
Although fencing may seem like two people trying to stab each other, there is immense self control in the the sport. Each round is prefaced by a salute to both the opponent and the judge, and this sign of respect is performed yet again after the round is over. Chelsey Chen (12), captain of the St. Mary’s fencing team, explains it well, “The first things that a fencer learns . . . is that once the mask comes off, you are friends again.”
3.) Fencing is as much an intellectual game as it is an athletic one.
Fencing is often compared to a chess match because it requires tactic, strategy, and skill, and a mastery of all three is crucial to be a successful fencer. No fencer goes into a round cold; they have prepared their attacking points and methods beforehand.
4.) Fencing arose from several different communities.
Although fencing originated in Spain in the mid-18th century, the conceptual idea of the sport can be traced all around the world in all sorts of sword fighting. Signs of different communities across the world recreationally “fencing” can be observed in many ancient works of art.
5.) Fencing is a team sport!
Fencing may look like an individual sport upon first impression, but behind the scenes during training, it is very much a team sport. Preparation for tournaments can only be done through practice against teammates, and this practice fosters a sense of community within the team. “It’s an individual sport, but it’s very much based on our own collaboration and teamwork,” continues Chelsey.
6.) Fencing is a game of decisions.
Whether a decision is made months in advance regarding what type of strategy you want to use, or in a split second when going in for a hit, fencing relies on the player making smart and fast decisions.