There are lots of choices for kids and teens when it comes to choosing a sport, and finding the right fit can be challenging. Soccer, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, on and on – there are so many possibilities! Fencing is different than other sports, including travel leagues and competitive sports teams. It’s even fundamentally different than other individual sports.
First, let’s talk about the things that all of these sports have in common. What’s universal is that participation in sports integrates a healthy lifestyle that lasts well beyond childhood. Not just physically, but socially as well. Working with teammates, taking constructive criticism, making and keeping commitments, on and on. Getting involved in a sport is undoubtedly a good thing for kids and teens.
What makes fencing different?
Fencing offers some incredible benefits for young athletes, but here are several ways that it’s different than other sports.
The way that fencers learn the sport is totally different than most other sports. Fencers learn in a two-pronged way – group classes and private lessons. Group lessons offer fencers the chance to learn alongside other fencers and to practice on the strip with athletes of a similar skill level. Group fencing classes are guided closely by coaches.
Private lessons on other side is 1-on-1 instruction session with a fencing coach. In a private lesson the coach teaches different elements of technique per individual needs of a fencer and based on their skill level. Private lessons are essential part of fencing education and you cannot skip it for a long if you want to make a real progress.
Think about it this way – a few hundred years ago you trusted your sword to defend your life. Would you be confident in your skills to protect yourself without getting private lessons with a fencing master and then practicing with your opponents in a training session? It’s a model that works.
Categories & structure of competition
The structure of fencing competition allows for new fencers to access small competitions early on. Fencers also have the chance to compete either as individuals in their own age category or one category up, or even in team competition. That means that a fencer can potentially participate in multiple events in a single tournament, even though they’re using a single weapon. Another wonderful option for fencers is the opportunity to move into different competitive categories depending on their skill level. Travel teams have become increasingly popular for sports teams in the last decade, and fencing offers many similar opportunities, but without the pressure or firm commitment.
Compete against the best
Another thing about fencing competition is that it creates a direct path to compete against the best fencers in that category, including national team members and even World and Olympic medalists! The reason is very simple – fencing is an incredibly niche sport. That means that the distance between your child and one of the national team members isn’t as big as you would expect – sometimes it’s just the next or even same strip in the competition!
Celebrity fencing connections
Speaking of celebrities – I believe fencing celebrities are the coolest in the world! (Admittedly, this opinion might be just a bit biased:-) ). In fencing you really can become friends, and I don’t mean social media type of friends, with the stars of the sport. They are that accessible! You can just walk in into any national level tournament, such as NACs or fencing championships, and meet these guys competing there, ask them questions, get an autograph, and just have a plain human talk. These guys are Olympic and World medalists, ranked among top of the world! Go and try to talk to Federer to compare 🙂
Fencing is a sport that’s been around in some form or another for thousands of years. Swordfighting his closely tied with chivalry historically, and that noble aspect of fencing imbues it with something special. Other sports do have their own rich history, but fencing has long been the sport of royalty and arguably one of the oldest sports. That’s a distinction that still lives on today in modern fencing.
The sword is arguably the most worshipped object in human history, having been attributed magic powers in many cultures and tales, both in ancient times – think Spartacus, Alexander the Great and Richard the Lionhearted, and in modern times – think the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Princess Bride, and of course Star Wars! Swordfighting skills were among the most important physical skills from the dawn of human society, as weapons were important for protection. Joining the world of fencing means that you are enrolling into a small secret society of the coolest dudes with swords in their hands! Who knows, maybe future tales and legends will be based on you!
The United States Fencing Association
The USFA (which is national governing body of sport of fencing) is one of the oldest independent amateur sporting association in the United States, having been created all the way back in 1891! It predates even the U.S. Olympic Committee, founded three years later. Fencing was of course one of the original ten sports of the modern Olympic Games and one of only 4 sports that were in every Olympic Games since than.
Fencing isn’t just good for kids and teens, it’s a powerful ally that can follow them to college. Fencing teams on the college level continue the camaraderie and support, not to mention how fencing can help high school students be more competitive in the college application process.
Adult and veteran fencing
Fencing as an adult is a real and tremendous thing! It’s possible to continue to do many sports into adulthood, but competitive fencing continues well after most other sports peter out. Olympic fencers tend to be older than most other sports, with members of the national teams regularly in their thirties during the big competition. It’s not just the Olympics though – adult fencing competition on all levels is enriching and taken very seriously. This is a sport for a lifetime! There are great local, regional, national and international opportunities for veteran fencing, so competing adults can continue their fencing career all their lives.
The fencing community
The fencing community is warm and welcoming, tight knit and supportive. It’s a niche sport, which means that fencers tend to compete with the same group of one to two hundred competitors over the course of their entire fencing career, even if they start young and fence for decades. We’ve seen the fencing community come together after natural disasters, support fencers who have faced life changing illnesses, and so much more. When you become part of the fencing family, you’re part of a family, even if you’re competing against one another.
This is a sport that’s totally unlike anything else out there. If you or someone that you know is looking for a sport that isn’t just for today, but that will be around for a lifetime, fencing is it!