We hope this page of Frequently Asked Questions is helpful to you! It covers questions related to fencing, in general. If you have questions about Fencing Master Ed Wright or class schedules, you can find pages devoted to that information by clicking on the links in the menu bar above. You can also call us or fill out a contact form on our “Contact Us” page.
Click on the question below to go down to the answer, or just read through them all in order.
- How did fencing originate as a sport?
- How does fencing as a sport differ from dueling or “sword fighting”?
- Is fencing just for boys?
- Does it hurt to fence?
How did fencing originate as a sport?
As you might imagine, the sport of fencing grew out of the life or death activity of dueling and sword fighting of days gone by.
Many schools existed in Europe — primarily in Italy and Spain — for those who wished to sword fighting study technique in the 16th and 17th centuries. As civilization progressed, dueling became a more complicated matter, as killing one’s opponent and satisfying your honor might mean going to jail for murder: hardly a desirable outcome! Consequently, technique became more refined, with the goal of ending duels by means of non-lethal cuts or wounds.
It is out of these schools and techniques that the sport of fencing was born.
Well, since it generally doesn’t result in anyone dying, it’s different in the most important way!
More seriously, once fencing moved from the dueling fields to the exclusive domain of the gymnasium, changes were inevitable. The older goals of dueling (vulnerable parts of the body, the need for defense, etc.) continue to be present in the various rules of “right of way” and valid target areas, which vary for each sport weapon (foil, épée, and sabre). But with the lethality removed along with the sharp points and edges, the techiniques used to achieve victory changed accordingly. Also, the addition of electronic scoring has allowed touches that, to the human eye, might seem simultaneous to be determined in favor of who struck first as opposed to who struck the more “lethal” blow.
Consequently, while the sport still communicates all the swashbuckling and romance one may imagine to those who watch — and, indeed, it carries reminders of its life-and-death origins in its rules and formal structures — it has changed much over the last four centuries-or-so!
Not at all! In fact, fencing is one of the few sports in which boys and girls are able to compete equally at many levels. The most recent Olympic Gold Medal winner in a fencing sport for the United States is Mariel Zagunis, who won individual golds for sabre fencing in 2004 and 2008.
Fencing is a sport for the mind just as much as it is for the body and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and genders, and many of Master Wright’s students are female.
No, not generally! Proper equipment — both weapons and protective gear — helps make the sport one someone can enjoy without serious risk of injury. For instance, swords have flat or rubber tips instead of points and are flexible so that they can bend to absorb most of the force of a blow. Fencing masks and jackets made by reputable companies are constructed with the needs of the sport in mind, offering reliable protection when worn and used properly.
Of course, there is risk with any sport and fencing is no exception. Participants make come away occasionally with the occasional bruise, etc. And there is always the occasional pulled muscle reminding one to warm up appropriately. As with softball, archery, soccer, etc.: such are the prices to be payed for playing something real instead of sitting on your couch with a video game!