If you’d have told me a few months ago I would take a fencing class, I would have laughed and said you were off your rocker! How wrong I would have been.
Some of you may have read my blog on a pottery class I attended with Mr P and our friends Mr and Mrs Ivers. You may also remember we decided not to tell Mr P what we were doing, just for a laugh at his expense, and after that we decided we would try some other new potential hobbies, which Mrs I and myself would organise and not tell the men. Hence the fencing coaching session!
We had been trying to decide on something for a while, plus try and fit it in to our busy social schedules! Then I got a message from Mrs I saying she had seen a van advertising Fencing and should we do it as our next surprise event? I instantly loved the idea and responded to ask if I should arrange it. The answer was yes and I quickly got in contact with Jacky Faulkner, our brilliant fencing coach.
Jacky was quick to respond and a delight to deal with and we’d soon arranged for the four of us to have a 2 hour coaching session one Friday early evening. Job done.
We told Mr I and Mr P to keep the evening free and then we waited a month for our lesson, obviously winding the men up every so often but not letting on what we were doing. A couple of days beforehand we told them they needed to wear tracksuit bottoms and trainers and bring lots of water as they might get hot and that was as much as they knew!
I must admit as the day drew nearer I was getting sightly apprehensive as Mr P has been diagnosed with a dodgy ticker and I was a bit worried about Jacky’s comment in an email saying we would get very hot!
The four of us all jumped in our car and drove to Amersham where were would be having our coaching session. Strangely the pottery was also in Amersham so I think the men thought we might be going back for a second session! That was until we pulled up in the community centre car park and they saw Jacky’s van.
Their first reaction seemed to be relief that it wasn’t a Zumba or Yoga class, followed by joy and excitement when they realised they were going to be allowed to play with swords – men truly never grow up. Mind you, I thin Mr P was relishing the thought of wielding a sword in my direction!
We made our way to the Large Barn, where we’d been told to meet Jacky and she was ready and waiting for us.
I instantly warmed to her, she had a fab sense of humour, was engaging, informative and great fun.
Jacky started by giving us a quick education on the history of fencing and the various swords which are used and for which type of fencing. Along with some horror stories about what damage each of the swords could do. She’d even once seen a man have his leg cut off at a demonstration show, where they use REAL swords. Mrs I and I were getting rather apprehensive at this point and wondered what the hell we’d let ourselves in for!
Thankfully Jacky explained the type of equipment we would be using were completely safe!
After our intro it was time to get or protective clothing on – which we all found rather hilarious!
The Fencing Lesson
Once we were completely protected it was time to start our lesson! After watching some of the fencing during the Olympics, I wasn’t holding out much hope of being very good but decided to throw myself in to it anyway. I am ever so slightly competitive so didn’t want Mr P to be too much better than me!
Jacky was very gentle with us and got each of us to practice each move with her, starting with how to position your feet, followed by how to lunge, how to move backwards and forwards, how to hold your arms and sword, and later how to parry.
“Lunge” is the attack and “parry” is the defense to the attack – and of course En Garde – yep we got to say it much to our delight. It’s a french term which in training describes the basic stance of a fencer. In a match it is a warning from the judge to both fencers to prepare to fence.
Each time we learnt a new move, we got to practice it on each other, going from one person to the other, which was great as we all got to interact as a group rather than just in couples.
Here’s Mrs I taking a lunge at Jacky!
We spent 2 hours learning so much about fencing, it’s a fascinating sport, steeped in history and incredibly good fun. It was amazing how tiring it is, even at the slow pace we were doing it in comparison to professionals! Here’s a quick video of my 3 com-padres being taught the lunge…
After 2 hours in the protective clothing and moving backwards and forward in defence and attack, we were all soaked with sweat, I can’t even say I glowed, my top was actually wet! I didn’t realise how fit you would need to be to do this sport and I take my hat off to the professionals who make it look easy!
If you are looking for something a little different to keep you fit, this could be it!
Fencing – a quick overview
There are 3 types of weapons in fencing: Foil, Epee and Sabre.
Foil – This is the smallest weapon of all. Most fencers start with a foil. The target area for foil is upper body only EXCLUDING arm and neck. Foil fencers must wear a metallic vest called a lame for target area. A lame does not protect fencers but it serves as a target area.
Epee – Epee has a bigger guard compared to foil. The blade on the epee weapon is also wider, thicker, and heavier. The target area is from head to toe.
Sabre – Sabre differs from foil and epee in the action of touch. There is much more slashing in sabre fencing while foil and epee fencers mainly pokes the opponents. The target area for sabre is any place above the waistline including arms and head. Sabre fencers must wear an electrical jacket (called a lame) for target area.
Regardless of which weapon you use, the protective equipment for all three weapons is the same: masks, jackets, underarm protectors/plastrons, knickers, gloves, socks, and shoes.
Underarm Protector/Plastron – This is a half jacket that is worn inside the regular jacket.
Chest protectors – The chest protectors are optional for men/boy but are required for women/girl in all tournaments. They are usually made of hard plastic. Myself and Mrs I had the pleasure of wearing these, I have to say I really liked mine, gave me a lovely shape!
Gloves – At least one fencing glove is required, which is usually for the hand that holds the weapon.
Shoes – All sneakers can be used as fencing shoes, however, fencing shoes usually come with enhancements specifically designed for the movement in fencing.
A Bit About Jacky Faulkner our Coach
I would recommend her to anyone and everyone who has ever fancied giving fencing a go and even if you haven’t, it really is fantastic.
Jacky is a British Fencing Southern Region Coach based in Buckinghamshire. A BFA Level 3 Foil Coach and Level 2 Epee Coach. Delivering coaching in Schools and Clubs in the Bucks and Berks area; please see her Clubs page for a full listing. As we found out, Jacky also provides private individual Fencing lessons, and is also a BFA Coach Tutor. Pretty impressive eh! To find out more please visit her website Jacky Faulkner Fencing Coach.
If you aren’t from the Bucks/Berks area there is a link below where you can find clubs and coaches all around the country.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our fencing adventure as much as we enjoyed doing it. We’re now on to planning the next event and of course I will keep you posted!
Link: British Fencing