Have you ever watched a scary movie and thought, “No, stop! Why are you going for a drive in the middle of nowhere with no gas on Halloween night! The bad guy will definitely get you!” One of the most consistent parts of those chilling films is that people make bad decisions that leave them face to face with the monster or in the clutches of the bad guy.
Do you know who would definitely survive in a scary movie? A fencer. Seriously, there are reasons why fencers would be the ones to make it to the sunrise on the day after the long night of mayhem. The skills that a fencer learns might not be combat realistic, but there are definite advantages that would make them more likely to survive than you average teenager in a slasher film. Here are six reasons why.
1 – Fencers are used to dealing with people in masks.
Mike Myers, Ghostface, Jason, Leatherface – classic Halloween bad dudes wear masks to cover their faces and hide their identities in a scary movie. You know who is used to being around people in masks? Fencers.
This might sound like a small detail, but really it’s not. We learn to read body language rather than to take our cues from the facial expressions of our opponent. Is the person chasing you going to go for the car door or come straight for you? Are they poised to attack or are they using a distraction tactic? Fencers spend so much time honing our skills of observation that we are able to read how people move, how they react, and most importantly what those movements and reactions mean for what comes next.
It doesn’t matter if we can’t see where their eyes are looking, we still understand what’s going on with this person. The mask? That doesn’t throw us at all. We can see right through it!
2 – Fencers are quick on their feet.
Agility is crucial if you’re going to make it to the end of a scary movie. The difference between one millimeter in this direction or that direction is also the difference between being the hero who gets to the final credit scene and being someone that the audience forgets because they don’t make it.
We practice footwork constantly in our fencing practice. We learn to move faster and smarter, all the while working hard to conceal our own intentions. This also means that fencers tend to be in good physical shape, which is also something that will help you to get through to the end of a scary movie.
This is really helpful for that classic case of the bad person chasing people through a house. You’ve got to jump this way and that way, in and out of doors and over things in order to stay ahead of the person who’s hot on your heels.
3 – Fencers learn to judge people’s behavior.
Sizing up an opponent and determining how they’ll process what you present them with is an essential skill in fencing. We only have a few seconds to figure out what tactics we’re going to use and to dig in to execute our counterpoint to whatever it is that’s coming at you.
It’s not just about looking at what the other person is doing right now though. Fencers learn how to predict with variations in movement and to make sense of where the body of their opponent is going to go. Are they going to lean right or left? Are they going to hold back or come straight for you?
As a fencer, you learn so much about what people are doing and how they will respond. Sometimes, the person will retreat backward and decide to take their creepy party to someone else. The only way to know is to engage with the opponent.
4 – Fencers multitask.
It’s always stunning when the person in a movie is right next to the villain and doesn’t even notice them. Maybe they’re talking on the phone, watching a movie, or cuddling up with their loved one. Whatever they’re doing, they don’t realize that they’re about to get it.
One skill that’s really important in fencing is the ability to be present in your environment. You have to stay in the moment, looking around and juggling lots of different ideas all at once. In a fencing match, this means looking at your opponent, keeping an ear out for your coach, watching the ref, and intentionally filtering out the crowd. This has to all happen at the same time! It take incredible amounts of focus, and luckily it’s a transferable skill.
Imagine this. . . you’re in an abandoned factory on moonless night. The evil person’s footsteps echo through the large empty space. Outside, you hear the clanging of a train and the honk of its horn in the near distance. Suddenly, one of the machines roars to life and the footsteps are harder to hear. Your friend is walking right next to you and you want to keep them safe while also watching out for yourself, but they keep telling you advice and talking.
If you’re a fencer, you’ve practiced filtering out loud noises. This means you can identify what you need to be paying attention to while also keeping an ear out for the important things you need to be aware of. The train and the machines are like the crowd at a fencing match.
Your friend is like your coach. They’ve got things to offer that are valuable and you definitely want to listen, but at the same time they aren’t your primary concern in this moment.
The person chasing you is obviously the opponent. You need to be able to identify which direction they’re coming from, how fast they’re going, and you also need to brainstorm how you’re going to meet them when they do get to you. That reaction has to be of primary importance, even as you take the rest of everything going on around you into consideration.
This kind of high pressure, in the moment multitasking is exactly what a fencer does, and it just so happens to be what you’d need to do to escape that super creepy factory that you shouldn’t have gone to in the middle of the night in the first place.
5 – Fencers can fight well.
Fencing is a combat sword. If it came down to it, a fencer could certainly give Jason or that guy from Scream a run for their money in the combat. The epee, foil, and saber are actual swords, and just about any long object can be used as a sword. A broom, a tire iron, a long stick, a piece of pipe – whatever is lying around the dystopian place where the fencer finds themselves.
There’s even reason to go so far as to say that a fencer could go well against something like a knife or even a chainsaw. The quick motion of a fencer and their ability to control the distance means that they could take control of the fight even if they were against a more substantial enemy. It’s all conjecture of course, but it’s also logical.
6 – Fencers know how to scream loudly.
Fencers are definitely known for their ability to shout it out from inside of their masks. One of the things that we don’t always talk about for fencers is what a healthy set of lungs fencers must have! This kind of robust and loud self-expression is great for the fencing strip, but it’s got important uses well beyond that.
In a scary movie, one of the best ways to save yourself is to scream really loudly so that someone can come to your rescue. You might be down in a hole underneath someone’s house, locked in a car trunk, hidden in an attic. Whenever the protagonist in one of these movies is really stuck, there is usually some close call with an outside person who could help our hero, if only they could yell loud enough to get some attention they would be saved! Never to worry if you’re a fencer, because you’re used to yelling.
If you’re a fencer who doesn’t yell so much, maybe this is a reason to listen to your coach’s advice and get that hot air moving.
There are so, so many reasons that a fencer would do well against one of the made-up bad guys in a scary film. That is, assuming the writers of the film wanted the fencer to do well. Let’s keep in mind that all of these are make-believe. The outcome isn’t determined by the merit of the person who is fighting – it’s determined by what the writers want to happen!
Next time you sit down to watch a scary film, take a moment to think about whether the characters would fare a little better if only they’d learned a little fencing.