Fencing Finds Numbers in Positive, Welcoming Environment

Team members share what makes fencing special

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Betsy Fries

Fencers Ryan Thrasher '23 (left) and Theo Fechtmeyer '23 (right) are in the middle of a match at practice.

Ben Lim, Contributing writer

There are three different forms of fencing: épée, foil, and sabre. The difference between the three is the sword type. Épée is the heaviest, foil is light and flexible, and sabre is for thrusting and cutting. Foil is the most popular form out of the three. In foil the strike area is only the upper body. In épée the strike area is head to toe and sabre the strike area is anywhere above the waist. Fencing is a popular sport and is gaining more traction. 

Currently, Blake Fencing has had one of it’s largest rosters in recent history. With a total of 50 people comprising the team this year. One reason why the team might be so big is because of how inclusive it is. Audrey Ronan ‘21 explains, “almost everyone started 8th grade or freshman year, so it’s really inclusive that way.” Taggert Smith ‘21 echoes this when he comments, “It’s a new sport that anyone can pick up and be good at because if you’ve never thrown a football in you’re life, but you want to start playing highschool football that’s going to be hard for you. But, coming into fencing you can pick it up and, like me, be on varsity you’re first year because you enjoyed it.”

Another reason why the fencing team may have grown is because of how it spreads around. Instead of being advertised during assembly, it is spread through word of mouth. Ronan puts it best when she says, “it spreads by word of mouth really easily, so once a few extra people join, they tell their friends and all of a sudden you have 10 new freshmen joining.” 

Additionally, according to Hank Bernhardt ‘22, what makes fencing different from other sports is that it is a game of both mind and physicality. He says, “if you cannot conquer both you will not be that good.” 

He also says that fencing is an individual sport and this helps because he doesn’t have to worry about his teammates, but he can focus on honing his own skills. The team meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and goes from 3-6pm. 

When asked, captain Joe Jessop ‘20 says, “[fencing] is like physical chess, like you could be doing a certain action really well, but if your opponent has a different strategy that can counter that, then it’s effectively useless. So a big part of it is trying to figure out what works against your opponent.” This is a large difference from other sports because, as both Bernarhdt and Jessop have said fencing is more than just a physical challenge, but also a mental one too. Whereas with hockey or soccer the main focus is moving the ball and scoring. Fencing is more about maneuvering the opponent to leave a hole in their defence. 

Fencing is a different sport from others because of its very inclusive community, its many different forms, and the strategy that comes with it. Anyone can join with no prior knowledge and still excel. The different forms provide people with many options. With sabre there are quick matches whereas with the other two, the matches are more drawn out. It is also a mental game between the two opponents.