A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Fencing has always been a sport which fascinated me, although to be honest I had absolutely no idea about the rules of the sport. All I knew was that it looked fancy and reminded me of Mask of Zorro valiantly using his sabre to slice through his enemies and more recently a valiant Pierce Brosnan kicking his co-fencer’s bottom in Die another day. So recently when one of my class mates informed me that Leiden University Sports centre is organizing a fencing course for a month I didn’t give it a second thought before I signed up, and boy I did not regret doing that.
Before I joined the class I didn’t even have the faintest idea what the difference between a Foil, Sabre and Épée was but I was determined to learn all that and more!
The classes started with some basic exercises such as jogging around the Basketball court where the lessons were held and doing some stretching exercises. We were taught the most basic concepts of fencing initially such as advance, retreat and how to correctly make a Lunge.
One of the first things I understood about fencing is that a hit to anywhere on your body including the tender parts would be considered as a point so it is necessary to cover yourself and pad up properly before a bout. Then there are completely different set of rules for lefties and righties, everything ranging from the gloves and protective jackets you wear to the swords which you use are different based on the dexterity.
It did hurt a lot the first few times I got hit, because one of the first lessons taught is that no mercy should be shown when you make your lunge. During the next following classes we were gradually taught advanced techniques and terms like parry, feint, touché and counter attack finally began to make sense. The highlight of the whole course would be the bouts which were based on the electronic point system, and I improved so much so that I was even able to win a fair number of bouts which I fought.
Fencing also has many advantages, it is like a proper aerobic exercise and your hearts and lungs will get a good workout as you recover between the intense periods of activity and you body deals with the lactic acid that has built up within your muscles. Aerobic fitness describes the ability of your body to take in, transport and use oxygen and is linked to cardio respiratory health.
4 fencing classes and lots of time spent practising in front of the mirror later now I have really begun to enjoy fencing, so much so that even after my fencing course ended I find time to go there on Thursday evenings so that I can maybe fight a bout or two during the classes.
The next course starts on the 25th of April and trust me you won’t regret signing up for it!