Fencing exciting to watch, fun to do

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Posted Thu, Nov 18, 2010

By Piper Perry

Denver-Some of the most popular films of the last decade have sword fighting in them.  “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” have exciting sword fighting in them. And that sword fighting is within the grasp of everyone, no matter your age or gender, through fencing.

Denver has a nationally recognized fencing facility, the Denver Fencing Center. Between the two facilities, one in Denver and one in Golden, the Denver Fencing Center has 150 students of all ages and skill levels, from beginner to national finalist competitors. The Denver Fencing Center has had 30 national finalists train at their center since its opening and is the largest U.S. Fencing member club in Colorado.

Some of the best fencers both in the world and at the DFC are women. In Nathan Anderson, the founder of DFC’s opinion, the premier American fencer right now is Mariel Zugunis, two time gold medal winner for the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team.

“We take people of all ages, we generally start around 8-years-old, and we have people that are in the 60’s and 70’s, so we have a wide range of people fencing. It’s a sport where a lot of people who didn’t think they were athletes become athletes. We have a guy that started in his 40’s that won his first athletic medal, and that inspired him to become a coach,” Anderson said.

The DFC has 6 week lessons for $60 plus a $30  equipment rental fee. If you decide you like fencing enough to compete, the initial cost of gear is somewhere between $250 and $350. That’s less expensive than many other sports in Colorado, such as skiing.

Fencing is one of the club sports at Metropolitan State College of Denver. If you are interested, contact Charles Burden at 720-427-3486 or at sirchuckb@yahoo.com for club meeting times.

The sport of fencing is faster than the choreographed bouts you see on film or on the stage.  During a fencing “bout,” an individual game or round, the audience watches two fencers performing an intense dance on a six-feet-by-40-feet strip. The movement is so fast the touches are scored electronically. For those new to fencing, it is difficult to follow the lightning speed of the fencers’ actions. To become more comfortable in watching a fencing bout, focus on one fencer.

The main object of a fencing bout is to effectively score 15 points on your opponent before he scores that number on you. Each time a fencer scores a touch, he receives a point. The fencer being attacked defends himself by use of a parry, a motion used to deflect the opponent’s blade, after which the defender can make a riposte, an answering attack. Thus, the two adversaries keep changing between offense and defense. Whenever a hit is made, the referee will stop the bout, describe the actions, and decide whether or not to award a touch.

Fencing is one of only four sports to be included in every modern Olympic Games, since the first Olympic Games in 1896. Famous fencers include actress Grace Kelly, actor Paul Newman, President Theodore Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“It’s a fun sport,” Anderson said, “you get to hit people with swords, and it’s a sport where you don’t actually realize you are exercising.”

About Drew Jaynes

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