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."