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fencing lessons for kids

Fencing lessons for kids: Everything a parent needs to know

As the Summer Olympics wrap up, many people find themselves googling some of those lesser known sports that are introduced to people during this global athletic event. Fencing is one of those sports. It offers so many benefits, but is a little less common. It’s romantic, dramatic, artistic, fast and athletic. The sport dates back thousands of years and was one of the original five sports in the modern Olympic games. The popularity of the sport is growing rapidly in the United States now as more and more people become aware of it. So how do you get your child started in fencing lessons?

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in fencing lessons, we’ve pulled together all the information you need to know before signing them up. Find out what age is appropriate, what the different types of fencing are and what to look for in a fencing class. So let’s dive in.

The Basics of Fencing

Fencing is a form of martial arts that utilizes a blade as the weapon. Contrary to that description, it’s actually one of the world’s safest sports. It involves a lot of quick movements back and forth on a 40-foot long by six-foot wide strip. It is often described as “physical chess” because it’s about strategy and anticipating your opponents moves. 

Modern technology allows the use of electronic equipment to keep score so there is a tone you hear and a red or green light that indicates a touch was made. All participants wear protective clothing that includes jackets, gloves, masks and much more. 

Within the sport of fencing, there are three major types you will see – foil, épée and sabre (also spelled saber). Foil and épée use the same small, flexible blade that weighs less than a pound. The difference is the target. With foil, the target is the torso only and with épée, it’s the entire body. Saber targets everywhere from the hips to the head except for the hand holding the weapon. It’s the modern day form of dueling. You can use the tip and side of the blade to score.

There are multiple techniques and they are labeled as either offensive or defensive, although some can be both. Athletes will perform these techniques in a combination series using hand and footwork until a point is scored and then they will return to their starting position.

Benefits of Fencing Lessons

There are many benefits of fencing classes for children. In addition to the obvious benefits that come with any extracurricular enrichment program, fencing provides a few unique pros that we wanted to point out.

  1. Requires a great deal of mental focus so it’s a great booster for attention span and mental agility
  2. Develops good hand-eye coordination with quick movements and precision
  3. Helps kids work to learn to control bodies and make calculated steps and motions
  4. It’s an individual sport so it helps build confidence and self-reliance
  5. Fencing is a unique extracurricular which makes it great for resumes and college applications

Other Considerations

So what else do you need to think about before signing your child up for fencing classes? Beginning classes will not require much, just some good exercise clothes. But as the progression happens in the sport, you will need to purchase some equipment when competitions begin. 

Used equipment isn’t as easy to find with fencing just because it’s not a mainstream sport, so you’ll either need to start looking early or purchase new. Usually, the equipment required is the chest plate, jacket, mask, glove and weapon, but you can check with your instructor for more details.

The good news is that fencing is pretty middle of the road as far as cost. Aside from equipment, there may be some tournament and travel costs once competitions start, but that doesn’t happen until there has been a good amount of instruction.

What Age Should My Child Start Fencing Lessons?

Fencing instruction can begin as early as six years old with the real weapons. Any ages younger than six should only be using foam swords. The most common age to begin this sport is around nine years old. 

It is absolutely encouraged for older kids in their teens to start fencing as well. If they want to compete, it will just require some strong commitment in the beginning to pick up the basics quickly.

What To Look for in a Class

When searching for a fencing program for your child, there are a few things we recommend asking about. A basic fencing class should include information about the different weapons, footwork and bladework instruction. This will allow kids to get a full picture of the sport and start learning and putting together the different movements.

Instructors and coaches should be extremely well trained in fencing weapons. There should be an organized curriculum with progression throughout the course. You can find small and large group classes, so you can determine what size class feels comfortable for your child.

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