I started fencing in college, for the same reason that a lot of people start fencing – it sounded cool at the time. And it still is pretty cool, and fun to wave swords at people. But there are a lot of other reasons that I keep coming back to fence, week after week and year after year.
It’s a great workout. Fencing is kind of a weird mix between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The action is higher intensity than I could maintain for longer than a few minutes, but there are frequent pauses that allow you to rest and cool down. It will also strengthen your lower body and core, and your dominant arm. You need to go to the gym if you don’t want one arm to get really scrawny comparatively. Which brings me to…
It’s a great motivation to do other workouts. Fencing is my motivation to run and lift weights. Just fencing all day isn’t enough to keep me in top competitive form, especially in that nondominant arm. I’m not big on cardio, but when I run regularly I can feel the difference when I’m on strip.
I don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest. Since fencing is about strategy and technique, I can face off with people who are much taller or stronger than I am and still be on an equal footing. It’s also fun to see a skinny ten-year-old get on strip with a much larger teenager and have the bout be evenly matched.
There’s nothing like scoring a beautiful hit. Some touches are just cooler than others. Sometimes it’s luck – your tip happens to be in the right place at the right time and they just run onto it – and sometimes it’s the result of careful planning and setup. In epee, where the whole body is target and the best place to hit is the wrist, there’s such a great feeling of satisfaction when you watch your opponent readjust his sleeve after you hit him with a perfect wrist touch.