The popularity of fencing as a hobby / sport is very different in different countries.
In France and Italy for example, there is a strong fencing tradition which stretches back many years.
In addition, these countries have been very successful at the summer olympics, winning medals almost every year. Below is the ranking table of fencing medals won since the first fencing event was held back in 1896:
|4||Soviet Union (URS)||18||15||16||49|
|6||West Germany (FRG)||7||8||1||16|
|9||South Korea (KOR)||5||3||8||16|
|10||United States (USA)||4||11||18||33|
Or course you don’t have to be in France or Italy to try fencing yourself. Most cities and towns will have a fencing club which offers beginner courses and introductory trials.
In recent years there has been a great deal of growth and international success for fencing in the United States, Korea and Japan.
Where To Find A Fencing Club
When it comes to finding a place to train near to where you live, the best approach is google. Searching “Fencing club near me” will do the trick or “Fencing club in (your city name)” will bring up most of the options available.
Once you find a local club, they will definitely know all the other fencing clubs in the area, and can even point you towards university clubs and so on depending on what you’re looking for.
How To Learn Fencing
There are three main aspects that fencing is learned through. These are lessons with a coach, fencing training partners in your fencing club, and competing at tournaments.
1. Lessons With A Coach
One on one lessons with a coach are a staple of fencing training, similar to the individual lessons done in boxing or martial arts.
Here, the coach will have some idea or system they want you to work on and practice. This is an example of what a fencing lesson looks like:
Plus here’s an example of World Champion Yuki Ota doing a fencing lesson with his coach:
It’s more deliberate and precise than an actual fencing match, and the aim is to improve the skill of a fencer in a specific area.
By taking these lessons, over time the fencer will develop skills to use in a match against a training partner or in a competition.
2. Fencing With Training Partners In Your Club
Most of the time spent in fencing is training with other fencers in your club. These matches are fun, and ideally also help you to improve.
Training matches are key at every level, for example below you can see two Olympians training (semi) casually.
The idea is to stay sharp and maintain the skills you learn (while also having fun) so that you can perform well in fencing tournaments.
By fencing different people at your fencing club, including those who might be much more experienced than you are, you can learn how to fence better.
Over time after fencing experienced fencers you can figure out what works and what doesn’t, and before you know it you’ve improved with massive steps in your fencing ability.
3. Competing At Fencing Tournaments
The final piece of the puzzle for learning fencing is competing at tournaments. This is a completely different ballgame from the fencing matches you do in training.
The stress and pressure of competing against fencers who you usually don’t know or don’t train with can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your fencing skills in a different way.
By competing in tournaments, you can learn what you need to work on in your fencing, because when you make a mistake people will hit you!
This plays back into training and lessons with a coach. When you know what your weaknesses are from a tournament, you can work on them specifically with your coach in a lesson.
Then you can practice not making that mistake in your training bouts that you do at your fencing club. This cycle works over time to improve your fencing.
These three places are where you learn to fence, and while getting the balance right takes a bit of time, once you have it down you will improve rapidly.
Aside from these training aspects, a certain amount of fencing is about learning the rules and etiquette, as well as what the most recent trends are at an international fencing level like the Olympics or World Championships.
Watching the best fencers in the world compete can be extremely entertaining and fun. For more info on how to watch fencing online, click here.
In addition to being cool to watch, it can be very educational to watch the world championships and so on to see what exactly the best are doing.
You can get ideas, find fencers who fence in a way you would love to copy, and borrow moves from them to try in training and competitions.
On top of directly watching fencing, there are plenty of videos by Olympians describing different techniques and aspects of fencing which you can learn from. Some examples are here:
Race Imboden USA (Multi Time Olympic Medalist And World #1)
Eli Schenkel CAN (2020 Olympian)
Ultimately, all of this plays back into the most crucial part of learning to fence: training with good opponents in your club.
As club training is by far what you spend the biggest amount of time doing, it has the largest effect on how your fencing progresses.
The best way to approach this training is to use all the other tools available, like lessons, competition ideas, and online resources.
By thinking proactively and experimenting with these things in training, you can learn a lot and develop better fencing skills quickly. Not to mention it’s very fun to try!