skew * one *  december 94
The Sections
Test your weapons...
by Craig Constantine

An art form, a game of chess, a battle of wits... all of these describe fencing. While stacks of books exist on how to teach and study fencing, the uninitiated often find fencing intimidating. Some people view fencing as a quirky sidetrack for those persons deemed unable to compete in more rational events (or simply crazy.) In reality, fencing requires the mandatory physical and mental aspects of any athletic contest: agility, strength, timing, thought, tactics, and attention to detail and precision.

The singularity of the effort makes fencing enthralling. No team exists in a fencing bout. Each fencer brings to the encounter the experience and knowledge they've gathered, and the competition between the two fencers is very personal. The sport, after all, derives from the far removed dueling of the 17- and 1800s (and before.)

Something remains in the sport that reminds me each time I fence of the spirit in which fencing evolved. The removal of the physical dangers of a duel actually adds to the energy and power of the sport. Fencing can be intense or playful; relaxing or grueling; slow or fast. Each encounter teaches something new (if one pays attention). Even when faced with a superior opponent, minimizing losses and searching for opportunities can teach volumes.

Surprisingly (actually, it's not a surprise once you've tried it), the people who fence are not unique. I know high school students, college students, teachers, architects, and others who fence competitively and just for fun. Fencing yields something different to each person. Some fencers approach the sport physically, striving for speed and power. Others stress tactics and extreme precision as keys to victory. A world champion, of course, masters all of these.

Test your weapons," states the Director. "Fencers ready." She doesn't question; she states. "Fence."
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