1. The history
The rich history of fencing is something that is a wonderful draw to the sport. Swordfighting has been around for thousands of years and the actual art that we practice dates back to 13th Century. We love that we’re a part of something that is not only old but is also constantly changing and renewing itself. For fencers, we are energized by the fact that we are continuing this tradition and that someday people will look back on the history of our own era and that we’ll be a part of that history of this sport.
2. The uniforms
Let’s just be real about it – fencing uniforms look cool. They do! While outward appearance isn’t the most important thing, it does affect us all on some level. The jacket, the mask, they make us feel like a fencer when we slip them on. There is just something magical about them, ask any fencer!
3. The sword
Speaking of gear, let’s talk about the swords. Whatever your weapon is – sabre, epee, foil – you’re holding an actual sword. Who gets to do that? Fencers and ninjas maybe? It’s incredible! It’s fun! It’s cool! And we develop a relationship with our weapons. They are a part of us. When you spend so many hours training it’s just something that happens. They grow to be an extension of our arm, a part of who we are.
4. The excitement
Stepping onto the strip is always exciting. There is a rush of energy that comes from getting up and into a bout. Just stepping into the stance is energizing and puts us into that ultra sharp mindset that we all love being in.
5. The competition
Yes, we love competition! It has little to do with winning – so much more to do with challenging ourselves to be better people. We love that we’re faced with new opponents and that we learn new things. We also love that we get to travel and meet new people, to see how they fight and how we’re different, not to mention to discover how we’re alike.
6. The camaraderie
We sweat together. We fight together. We grow together. Both at the club and on the road. It’s hard to overstate the bond that fencers form with their training group, friendships that last for years – for a lifetime! The intensity of fighting brings out the deepest part of us, and we then share it with each other during our intense training. We push each other to get better.
7. The coaches
Coaches believe in us, even when we don’t believe in ourselves. They see our potential and nurture us. They call us out when we’re not giving our best. The guides of our lives on the strip, coaches teach us so much more than just technique – they teach us life skills and discipline. There is no way to thank them enough!
8. The opponents
Opponents push us to get better, so we love them! That look of ferocity which is followed by a handshake and well wish is exceptional. We love our opponents for making us stronger and for allowing us to challenge our skill. We love them when they win because the spirit of sportsmanship shows us that we can take joy in their victory, only to go home and practice harder.
9. The club
Any fencer who trains regularly will tell you that they love their club. Good clubs are like a family – they support everyone who steps through the door and work to help everyone succeed.
10. The potential
Fencing helps us to see our potential. Kids can see that they’re capable of great things. And yes, every fencer at some point dreams of Olympic glory or of becoming a knight. Even if those dreams don’t ever come true, there is tremendous value in them.
11. The beauty
A fencing bout is a beautiful thing. The form that the bodies take in their stances. The sounds of the match, with clashing of metal and the shuffle of feet. The simplicity of it all – with everything stripped away to just two people, looking at each other and focused on a goal.
12. The intensity
For a fencer who is in the moment, particularly during competition, the intensity of the bout is almost unmatched. Adrenaline flows, the mind becomes focused and the body responds. Even when fencing at the club there is a serious level of intensity with the mind and body focused on one goal.
13.The life skills
Fencing doesn’t just teach us skills for the strip – it teaches us skills for life! Fencers learn physical fitness and mental resilience. How to support one another and how to be happy for an opponent. How to get knocked down but then to get back up again. These things translate into life and help fencers to be successful when times are tough and to persevere.
Let’s just be honest – there’s a warm feeling that we get from all of this. Fencing makes us happy, and that’s a reason to love it. We can break that happiness down into pieces and parts, but sometimes it’s nice not to analyze it and just to simmer in it.
15. The confidence
Fencing builds confidence. For a child, handing them a sword (even a not sharp sword!) is giving them the trust of an adult, and they know that we believe in them. When you think about it, that’s a huge responsibility! Building confidence is one of the things that is best about the sport of fencing, and really everything else that we love about the sport comes together in this one piece.