Only a few things stand the test of time, warranting them to be called classic or classy. It would have been much cooler if we were still carrying swords (damn, imagine Game of Thrones!!?) , but frankly, they face near obsolescence nowadays. Thankfully though, the art of sword fighting lives vicariously through the classy sport of Fencing.
At some point, we have all probably come across some sort of Fencing video on the internet; I thought the sport might hone my agility and hasten my reaction time. It was quite timely that Republic Fencing opened their doors to the public late in 2015. The calibre of training is high as the club is run by fencers who have national and international accolades.
There are three swords in Fencing—Foil, Épée (pronounced *inhaaaale* as EH·PEHY), and Sabre. My face lit up when the coach asked me to choose a sword. Remember when Professor Oak asked us to choose our first Pokemon—Squirtle, Charmander, or Bulbasaur? The feeling came rushing back in! Upon much consideration and consultation, I chose my Charmander, the épée!
Fencing is waaaaay more complicated than I expected. Each one of the swords comes with their respective set of rules of engagement. The gameplay in Sabre is more aggressive as it involves more hacking and slashing; Foil and Épée, on the other hand, are more patient and tactical as only the tip of the sword must touch the target. When you use Sabre and Foil, you can only score if you hit your opponent’s upper torso. In Épée, however, the whole body is your target, making it an ideal code for beginners. To cut the long story short, in using an épée, you score by poking any part of your opponent’s body.
The épée is held as if it is an extension of the forearm (the handle was designed as if one is holding a shiny, shimmering, gigantic pen). We started off in the rest position: my heels touched together to form a 90° angle. Next step was to move to the en garde or ready position: my right or leading foot moves about 12-15 inches forward, with both knees bent. My right upper arm until the elbow is adjacent to my body, while the forearm and sword form aligned pointing up. The en garde position puts me in a more mobile stance, ready to either defend or poke my enemy! *Evil laugh*
Engaging the opponent begins by extending your right arm, putting the sword right in the face of your target! The tricky part is footwork (Leg day, all day, errday, right? Right???), which reminded me of my boxing days. When you move forward, the leading foot must go first to provide direction; while the hind foot is dragged to provide balance and stability. The principle reverses when you move backward: the hind foot will goes back first while the lead foot follows. Contrary to what I said earlier, you cannot just poke your opponent. The hit must be strong… strong enough for the sword to bend (do not fret, it was designed to bend).
So did Fencing improve my agility and reaction time? I think, yes. Did it work out my muscles? One, big astounding YES! Check your calendars, is it leg day yet? My legs were on fire after training! Maintaining correct stance, while executing the footwork and arm work, provide a novel exercise to improve one’s body coordination. It is graceful like cha-cha, but can still hurt! 😛
Big ups to clubs like Republic Fencing who share their passion and make the sport more accessible (and fuel our Game of Thrones dreams). Whether you are trying to start an active lifestyle or an athlete looking to cross train, stay classy my dear, Fencing should now be on your radar. Some fine wine after Fencing, s’il vous plaît? #Classy