A new school year is a busy time of year for families that’s full of excitement and new beginnings. Kids are starting new grades in school with new teachers and new classmates, and everyone is full of energy after the summer.
This time of year is also when extracurricular activities get going, and choosing which one is right for children is both exciting and daunting. Fitting it all in and knowing how to effectively plan out time and commitments can be difficult. We don’t want to overload our kids with activities, but at the same time we don’t want them to miss out.
Fencing combines athleticism, strategy, and a touch of elegance, making it a thrilling and engaging extracurricular for children. Competitive fencing is certainly an option, but beginner fencers who have never tried the sport before don’t jump into the deep end – they just dip a toe in.
If your child is considering fencing this fall, this blog will give you everything you need to know.
Understanding the Thrill
Fencing is a sport that involves dueling with a weapon. Sword dueling is an exhilarating and enjoyable activity that brings with it a sense of comfort and excitement. Unlike other sports, where players are bound by various rules and equipment, dueling with a sword allows for a thrilling and immersive experience.
Imagine standing across from your opponent, the weight of the sword in your hand, and the anticipation of the bout ahead. The world around you seems to fade away, leaving only you and your opponent in a dance of skill and strategy. As the duel commences, your senses heighten, and each movement becomes crucial, requiring precision and quick thinking.
The beauty of sword dueling is that it welcomes participants of all ages. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned duelist, the joy lies in the act of wielding a sword and engaging in a friendly clash. Beginners need not fret about choosing a specific weapon; it’s the thrill of the fight that matters most.
If your child picks a stick and imagines it’s a sword, if your child thrusts into you or their friends with pool noodles, then fencing is a sport that most likely they would love. And then you should learn what’s the next step and what this sport will give your child, as well as what preparations to make for your child to pursue this beautiful sport.
Finding a Fencing Club
What will make the biggest difference for kids in fencing is finding the right club for them. If you live in a large metropolitan area, you might have several clubs to choose from. If you’re in a less populated area, then you probably only have one or maybe two clubs around you.
Your best bet is to find a USA Fencing affiliated club. These clubs work with the governing body of fencing in America and tend to participate in sanctioned competitions. This affiliation can help you to know that your fencers are in good hands as you look for a reputable fencing club in your area.
Be sure to visit the club and watch a class before you commit. Many clubs will offer a free first class to let kids try it out, or at least your child can watch. There will be some orientation or beginner classes for them to take so that they can learn the fundamentals of equipment and protocol.
Joining a club will give you access to proper training, equipment, and opportunities to spar with other fencers. Research local clubs, read reviews, and know that you can always make a change even if you commit to one for now.
Knowing the necessary equipment
Fencing requires specific gear to ensure safety and fair play. As a beginner, your child may not need to invest in expensive equipment right away, as most clubs provide basic gear for introductory classes. However, you will eventually need the following essentials:
- Mask: Protects your face and eyes from potential hits.
- Jacket: Made of durable material to protect your upper body.
- Glove: Covers the weapon hand and provides grip and protection.
- Fencing pants or knickers: Lightweight, stretchy pants that protect the legs.
- Shoes: Non-marking athletic shoes with good support and traction.
- Weapons and body cords: Your club will likely provide these for the introduction session, but you may eventually want to purchase your own when you join their regular sessions.
Kids outgrow fencing gear regularly, so you can talk to people in the club about potentially getting gently used gear that is still good but that a child outgrew. However, be cautious when buying or borrowing used fencing gear that hasn’t been looking over by an experienced coach. Fencing gear is our primary mode of protection, and we want to be sure that it’s safe and not worn out.
Learning proper technique
For kids, the technique needs to happen on their level. Expectations of kids just jumping up and blasting through to become master fencers or even to push as hard as their peers just isn’t realistic. Don’t expect your child to jump in and do anything that’s out of their ability early on in their training.
Fencing is a sport that requires precision and control. The proper technique takes time, and that’s ok! Fencing training should happen through a patient and supportive process, not through lots of pressure and hard-charging expectations.
Beginners should focus on learning the fundamental techniques, including footwork, blade work, and proper body posture. Those things are all important, but so is having fun. Fencing classes are best when they’re engaging and when they show the possibilities of the sport to kids. Learning happens best when things are relaxed and kids feel comfortable and safe. Expect lots of technique education to come saddled in playful, experimental exercises.
Kids will learn to pay attention to their coach’s instructions and practice regularly to develop good form and coordination through regular participation in classes and private lessons. It’ll take time for them to see the nuance of different movements and to adapt them to their changing bodies. Your child might be a natural, or they might have to work hard at it. Either way, they’ll benefit from consistency.
Physical and Mental Conditioning for kids
Fencing demands physical agility, stamina, and mental focus, even from kids. It’s a natural part of the sport! This is hands down one of the best parts of fencing training for kids – they get all of this great additional development while at the same time having lots of fun doing something that excites them.
It’s that excitement that makes things work so well for child fencers. They want to come to class and to see how much better they can get than their opponents. The kind of time investment that really supports their development is so much easier when kids are excited.
Engaging in exercises that enhance your cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility will benefit young fencers. These are all part of fencing classes naturally, and the explosive nature of the physical labor in fencing adds a different dimension for kids. As they start to increasingly associate fun with the development of physical fitness, they’ll gravitate towards that organically.
The mental skills like concentration, quick decision-making, and strategic thinking will improve their overall fencing ability while at the same time keeping them from getting bored. It’s really amazing how much it all works together in a single fencing class, and you can expect it to transfer to their school and home skills as well.
Etiquette and Sportsmanship in youth fencing
Fencing has a rich tradition of etiquette and sportsmanship that dates back to the times of royalty in Europe and all the way back to Ancient Egypt. The code of conduct in the sport is both spoken and also unspoken. So much of what we see in fencing in this area comes from mentorship and the way that fencers learn to model behavior of others during competition and training.
Respect for your opponent, the rules, and the fencing community is vital. Fencers learn quickly to follow the guidelines set by their coach and adhere to the principles of fair play. These fundamentals are the building blocks that allow kids to hold swords and try to stable on another. Without this kind of code of conduct, safety in the sport would suffer. No one wants to feel unsafe while they’re practicing a sport!
Learning proper etiquette helps kids create a positive and supportive environment within the fencing community. That last bit – the community aspect – is a key to fencing success. While you might get frustrated and lash out in this one instance, you won’t be able to maintain that for very long if you want to continue fencing. It’s all connected.
The positive feedback loop for fencers is an excellent thing that beginner youth fencers fall into immediately. The way that your actions come back to you in a fencing match – instantly and organically – is a big part of why etiquette and sportsmanship stay so top of mind for fencers.
This is only the beginning of the journey!
Embarking on your fencing journey this fall can be an exciting and fulfilling experience for any child.
By understanding the basics, finding a suitable club, acquiring the necessary equipment, and dedicating yourself to learning proper technique, your child will be well on their way to becoming a real part of this incredible sport. Young fencers will learn to embrace the challenges, enjoy the camaraderie, and engage in this exhilarating sport that combines athleticism and strategy. Welcome to the world of fencing!