Fencing isn’t your average Texas sport
Sgt. Barry St. Clair,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
Fencing is one of five Olympic sports that have been consistently offered at the summer games since 1896. It is not, however, what the average Texan thinks of when they hear the word “fencing.”
Fencing is one of many activities available to children, youth and adults of El Paso communities offered at the YWCA on Brown Street.
Fencing comes from European countries and stems from the days of squires and knights following England’s Hundred Years’ War during the 14th and 15th centuries. Just like the knights in that era, contestants suit up in armor including a face mask.
“One of the best ways to learn to read body language is fencing,” said Margaret De Long, fencing coach. “It also teaches good discipline because it has strict rules of the game.”
This game offers great athletic conditioning and can be played in competition to the national, international and Olympic levels, De Long continued.
Today fencing is the sport of sword fighting with specially designed weapons in an “enclosure” consisting of stripes on a gym floor about 4 feet wide and 30 feet long.
Assistant trainer Max Winter patiently demonstrates the stance of “on guard,” “advance” and “retreat” to fencers new to the sport. These three positions are the basis of fencing, the foundational movements.
The students line up at one end of the room, and practice their moves together as one advances and the other retreats – maintaining their proper distance.
“Do you guys understand?” Winter asked frequently.
“If you are having a hard time with the advanced moves, go back to the basic stance,” Winters said.
The students pair off for a session of advance and retreat, changing direction each time De Long claps her hands together.
All is not work, however. They end the session with a friendly game of dodgeball.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Soldiers and their families,” says De Long. “As far as I know, the only active-duty competitive fencing club is at United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.”
To learn more, call 346-4338 or visit www.salledelongfencingelpaso.com.
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