Frequently Asked Question
Which is the best weapon?
There is no one best weapon in fencing. The choice of weapon is primarily based on the individual fencer’s preference with input given by their coach. At Alliance the majority of our fencers have chosen Epee, however, all of our coaches are skilled in all weapons and can assist you in choosing the weapon that is best for you.
Does it hurt?
Not if done properly. Although executed with appreciable energy, a good, clean fencing attack hurts no more than a tap on the shoulder. The force of the blow is normally absorbed by the flex of the blade. Reckless and overly aggressive fencers can occasionally deliver painful blows, however. Fencing *is* a martial art, so you should expect minor bruises and welts every now and again. They are rarely intentional. Always wear proper protective gears. FIE homologated jackets, pants, and masks are ideal, as they are made with puncture-resistant fabrics such as ballistic nylon. If you cannot afford good fencing wear, at least use a plastron (half-jacket worn beneath the regular fencing jacket). Fencing is often said to be safer than golf. Whether or not this is true, it is an extraordinarily safe sport considering its heritage and nature.
How long does it take to become good?
There is a saying that it takes two lifetimes to master fencing. By the time anyone has come close to “mastering” the sport, they are long past their athletic prime. Some may feel that this is a drawback to the sport, but most fencers see it as a great strength: fencing never becomes dull or routine; there are always new skills to master, and new grounds to conquer. Novice-level competition is feasible within 3-6 months. Competition at this point should be viewed as a learning aid, not as a dedicated effort to win. Serious attempts at competing will be possible after 2-3 years, when the basic skills have been sufficiently mastered that the mind is free to consider strategy. A moderate level of skillcan take a few years of regular practice and competition. Penetration of the elite ranks demands three to five days per week of practice andcompetition, and usually at least 3-5 years of experience. Progress can be faster or slower, depending on the fencer’s aptitude, dedication,quality of instruction, and the age at which they begin.
What qualities make a good fencer?
All of them. On the athletic side, speedand cardiovascular fitness rank foremost. Other traits that can be exploited are strength (for explosive power, not heavy handedness),manual dexterity, and flexibility. Quick reaction time is extremely important. On the mental side, a fencer must be adaptable and observant, and have a good mind for strategy and tactics. Psychologically, he or she must be able to maintain focus, concentration, and emotional level-headedness under intense conditions of combat. As far as body type goes, it is always possible to adapt your style to take advantage of your natural traits. Even so, height seems to be most useful in epee. Small or thin people are harder to hit in foil. A long reach helps in epee, and long legs are an asset in foil. It should be noted that left handers seem to enjoy a slight advantage, especially against less experienced fencers. This may account for the fact that lefties make up 15% of novice fencers, but close to half of FIE world champions.
How much does it cost to get involved in fencing?
A beginner’s fencing kit (cotton jacket, under arm protector, plastic chest guard, glove, weapon, mask) will cost about US$200-250. A full set of FIE-spec competition gear will run at least US$800-1200. FIE equipment is recommended both in terms of safety and quality, but clothing costs can be as much as halved by purchasing regular cotton or synthetic knits. Used equipment can also be bought from retiring or upgrading fencers. Our Academy will provide basic equipment to the beginning students.
What kind of cross-training will help my fencing?
The best training for fencing is fencing. Fencing development is asymmetrical and few other sports use the same muscle groups. Cardiovascular fitness and leg strength always help, so anything that enhances these will be beneficial. Cycling, swimming, aerobics, sprinting, soccer, basketball, and similar sports are good examples. Racquet sports like tennis, badminton, squash, racquetball, and table tennis are also excellent. Circuit or period training (short bursts of high-heart-rate exercise followed by brief recovery periods) has been put forward as particularly relevant to the demands of fencing. Proper weight training can be of great benefit, if it emphasizes power development in the legs and lower body, core trunk strength for stability, speed, and flexibility. Improper weight training can potentially be detrimental, if it develops strength but not power, or sacrifices flexibility for muscle development.
How can I improve my technique without the help of a coach?
It is very easy to acquire bad habits and poor technique if you do not have the guidance of a knowledgeable fencing master, coach, or fellow fencer. If you are serious about improving your fencing, quality coaching is always your best investment.
Why do I need the USFA membership?
You must be a current member of USFA to be eligible to compete on the official USFA local and national tournaments. If you are at list 18 of age you will have the vote privileges
to elect officers in your Division.
How do I become a member of the USFA?
How do I sign up for a national tournament?
What about smaller, regional events?
You can find it on our website:
Also visit: www.askfred.net
Am I or is my son/daughter eligible for tournament?
Do I need to qualify to fence in a North American Cup (NAC)?
How can I fence in the Junior Olympics?
How can I fence in the Summer Nationals?
What is a classification?
A classification is a letter from A to E
(with A being the highest) that is earned in competition. The classification reflects the skill level of a fencer. A classification includes the letter assigned as well as the year in which it was last earned, for example “A-2011″. Classifications are valid for four years, at which point they revert to the next lowest letter, or unclassified, “U”, if the classification has not been re-earned within the four year period.
How can I earn a classification?
You can earn a classification at most USFA sponsored National, Regional, or Local tournaments. USFA sponsored means that the tournament is being conducted