The Slick Game Of Swords

Posted on November 11, 2010 in Sports

By Harleen Kaur:

On a regular cement floor, fencing feels deceptively slight. With swords in hand, the opponents pace back and forth in quicksilver steps. Their movements are measured — this game may involve swordplay but there’s very little aggression on display. The delicacy of this sport, however, is deceiving. The sport requires a minimum of six months extensive training and years of training before entering the professional field.

Fencing has its origins in European schools of swordsmanship. In 12th century Europe, this system of combat was considered essential knowledge for members of the aristocracy. It involved not just the use of swords, but other weapons such as daggers, rapiers, shields and pole axes. However, as time passed, fencing became more of a sport than a way for combat. Fencing was one of the original nine sports in the inaugural modern Olympic Games played in Athens, Greece in 1896 and is still one of the four sports which are featured in every Olympics.

The sport of fencing features three different levels, which are categorized by the type of weapon used in each level. The weapons used include the foil, epee, and the sabre. In foil fencing, touches are scored with the tip of the blade. The target is the torso. Beginners learn the foil method first because it is the most technical form of fencing to execute and requires the most legwork. The foil method also incorporates all the basic elements of fencing. In epee, points are also scored with the tip of the blade, but this time, the entire body becomes the target. In saber fencing, points can be scored with the tip or the sides of the blade, and the target is the bend of the hips and the top of the head. This is by the far the most physical of the types of fencing.

Fencing demands skill, grace and stamina. If the rapid movements are all about quick reflexes and sharp thinking, the long hours on feet are a test of agility, cardiovascular ability and balance. In other words, fencing is a great overall workout. Usually dismissed as an extremely violent and destructive sport, the sword play is like a beautiful dance choreographed as it proceeds. A not-so-popular sport in India, fencing is not only a great way to exercise the body and soul but also a visual treat for bystanders.

Image courtesy: Photo by: John McDonnell, The Washington Post