Anyone who has been a student of the sword is aware of the discipline and strategy it takes to wield one.
Tonight I just read that the North Dakota State University campus has banned the sport of fencing from their campus.
I pity them.
Photo by Carlene Salazar
Why? Because of the shallow understanding they have of fencing and how that college is losing out on the incredible potential the sport offers.
Respect. Physical strength and endurance. A keen eye. A quick response, Strategic thinking.
Fencing is not a violent slashing of swords nor opponents beating each other over the head with a ‘weapon’. On the contrary, fencing is an art, a discipline, and a skill. It’s more like playing a game of chess, with rules and regulations.
Fencing is a gentleman’s sport.
In history dueling with a sword was acceptable among the upper class. Especially in later years duels only lasted until ‘first blood’. Whereas some people thought duels were violent, others insisted that dueling prevented violence. Once the duel was fought, the score was settled.
Fencing evolved into a sport, and now the duel is a friendly contest between two trained combatants. Points are scored by touching the opponent with the tip of their blade. Modern equipment is wired. In foil the fencer wears a vest that, when touched, signals a light in the score box. The blades are blunt. They are actually not even that dangerous unless broken, (as is a coke bottle).
Aside from that, fencing is an ancient tradition. The oldest manual was dated 1300. I need to clear my throat here. Manual. Directions, how-to, rules, explanation of right-of-ways, showing of footwork, positioning of the body, how the back is held, the knees, the blade, how to move in different scenarios. Fencing is an ART as well as a science of arms.
But I can’t express strongly enough that like any martial art, fencing develops the mind in a good and healthy way, teaching the student how to think quickly, act defensively, move confidentially, and respect his opponent.
I’ve seen teenagers who fence. Impressive! I wish all teens had the opportunity to learn the sport.
Photo credit Carlene Salazar Tom Martin, fencing coach, myself and Dick (I forgot his last name, sorry)
What a loss for North Dakota State University students! I hope they find something as historically rich, as physically healthy, and mentally stimulating for their young people to learn.
As for me, I will continue to be a devote fan, encouraging everyone I can to pick up a blade!