Poking Each Other With Sticks Since 2006


What is the origin of fencing?

The origin of armed combat goes back to the prehistoric times -All the way back to the first time someone was whacked with a stick (see the beginning of the film, 2001 Space Odyssey).  Sword fighting, as we recognize it, reaches historically to the 12th century.  During these “Middle Ages”, the sword was used primarily as an offensive, battering tool.  Protection meant that one must wear thick, heavy, armor made of metal.

How is fencing taught today?

What is the best way to learn?

The best to learn fencing (in my opinion) is by taking up the foil.  The foil was designed to be the teaching weapon for a fencer.   The foil (because of its rules/conventions/guidelines) teaches the student best, the proper control that should come with fencing.  Also, it should be noted that each student should NOT be taken into bouting (friendly competition) until he/she has laid a firm foundation in the basics: Etiquette, Footwork, Attack, Defense, and the (underemphasized) Mental game.  This can take between a couple of months-to-a-year, dependent on how much practice goes into it.

How long does it take to become good?

‘Good’ is a subjective word.  What’s good to someone may not be good to another.  The goal is on improvement!  And again, how good you become is a direct result of how strongly you make fencing and proper training a priority.  The common saying is that fencing takes two lifetimes to master.  But don’t let that disempower you, that that challenge you!  (I know I didn’t fully answer the question, but there is no true answer to this.)

How much does it cost?

On the surface, fencing can seem very expensive.  However, most fencing gear is extremely durable and a good set of equipment will last you a very long time.  I have a jacket and foil that I still use from when I first started in 1998 (and I’m sure it has another decade to it as long as don’t start packing on the pounds).  A starter kit (mask, jacket, glove and foil) can range from $100-200.  You can find lots of deals online and in the want ads.  I probably haven’t spent over $500 (personally) on fencing equipment.

What kind of exercises can improve my fencing?

What constitutes an attack?

What is right-of-way?

What are some fencing movie recommendations?

Films are what prompted me to pick up my first sword and can be a great form of motivation.  I have a soft spot for all films with which fencing plays a role, but my favorites are:  The Princess Bride, The Count of Monte Cristo, By The Sword, Adventures of Robin Hood (anything with Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone), Cyrano de Bergerac and The Duelists.  There are several amazing scenes that I could re-watch a hundred times: James Bond : Die Another Day, I Love You Man, and Rob Roy.

What are some fencing book recommendations?

There are many great books that grace my shelves, but my favorite fencing books would have to be:  The Art & Science of Fencing (Evangelista, Nick),  The Inner Game of Fencing (Evangelista, Nick), The Art of the Foil (Barbasetti, Luigi),  On Fencing (Nadi, Aldo), The Science of Fencing (Gaugler, William), and A Dictionary of Universally Used Fencing Terminology (Gaugler, William) [yes, I’m a nerd when it comes to fencing ‘lingo’]

For more information on fencing, please get a copy of :

Fencing Foil : A Student’s Manual by the author Michael Joyce.  In paperback or digital download from Lulu.Com.

Available in December, 2010.  Stay tuned!


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