En Garde!

Written by Zac Wood Category: Health & Fitness Issue: September 2014
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Get to the point with Phoenix’s fencing centers.

Sometimes referred to as “physical chess” for its complexity, subtlety and mental gamesmanship, fencing isn’t just a martial art, according to adherents. It’s a lifestyle choice. “Fencing is a lifelong sport that teaches self-discipline, self-control, perseverance, patience and analytic and strategic thinking skills,” says Rachelle Arama, assistant coach at Arizona Fencing Center.

Originally conceived as a non-lethal alternative to dueling, fencing has appeared in every Summer Olympic Games since 1896. Modern bouts are regulated without being painfully, pretentiously formalized. Competitors use electrical scoring gear, which emits lights and sounds when it registers a touch (“touché”).

There are three weapon categories in fencing – the foil, which is used to thrust and strike point-first; the sabre, which has a long blade allowing for point-scoring by slashing; and the épée, a heavier weapon whose competition target is the entire body, including an opponent’s mask. Each weapon comes with its own set of competition rules.

Confused? Mesa Community College offers beginner and intermediate fencing classes, and novices can attend introductory group lessons or individual training at one of the Valley’s fencing academies (see below). The Arizona Fencing Center offers a free trial class for children ages 8 to 11.

Arama says fencing can be a long-term cerebral sport, regardless of a person’s physical fitness level. “No trophies are given for just showing up. It takes a great deal of time and dedication to progress competitively, but there is also a whole other side to fencing, which is simply a fun and challenging recreational activity. The brain challenge is always on.”

Fencer’s Club of Arizona (pictured)
6100 W. Gila Springs Place, Suite 13
Chandler, 480-459-5140

Arizona Fencing Center
1905 S. Macdonald St.
Mesa, 480-969-1424

Three Swords Fencing Academy
13825 N. 32nd St.
Phoenix, 602-334-1877

Phoenix Falcons Fencing Club
1522 E. Pierson St.
Phoenix, 602-264-1706