As parents, we want to give our children every advantage in life we can afford. I love fencing because it can help your child build their strength on so many levels. How many sports do you know of that can give your child a physical and mental challenge while building their confidence, social skills, and academic future? Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what fencing can do for your children.
With its rapid footwork and thrusting, your child will get a high-impact aerobic workout. He or she will build stamina, strength, and coordination. I like to think of fencing as a type of dance, because we use the same sort of skillset – understanding timing, tempo, measure and velocity.
Likewise, in the dance of fencing, the student has to develop a sense of body awareness, not only knowing how their own body is positioned, but how they are positioned in relation to his or her opponent. This body awareness is something that transcends beyond fencing – it’s a huge part of healthy living! At Academy of Fencing Masters, we encourage our students to be aware of one’s body and the awesome machine that it is; adopting healthy attitudes and eating habits. Fencing will instill in your child the idea of treating their body as an instrument and a temple … and taking care of it!
Fencing is also a terrific stress reliever. Your child can release their aggression and frustration through fencing in a controlled environment. When they go to the strip, nothing else matters. All problems and worries melt away – as they concentrate on technique and strategy. Some of our high school students say that fencing is their escape from the pressures of peers and school.
Improves your child’s strategic thinking and academic discipline
Fencing is obviously a very physical sport, but what most people don’t know is that there is a whole other mental layer that goes with it. It’s like a game of physical chess: Every move by the opponent spurs a reaction and response. The key is learning to think strategically so that you can score a hit, or point. While coaches provide a lot of guidance and training during practice, the real mental challenge comes on the strip when the fencer is squaring off against his/her opponent. There, all the thinking that goes on is independent. Your child has to learn to focus, be intuitive, and stay in the moment. Fencing will teach your kids to think on their feet – a valuable skill that will stay with them all through their lives, helping them academically, socially, and in the workplace.
By the way, colleges LOVE fencers! Many colleges actively recruit applicants with fencing backgrounds, even going as far as to offer fencing scholarships.
Fencing is a wonderful tool to bolster confidence. To meet an opponent’s attack, the fencer has to be quick on their feet with their defensive strategy, this means there’s no time for second-guessing oneself. Fencing requires bold moves and self-assuredness both in defense and offense.
This is the one sport where size doesn’t matter, only skill. I’ve seen fencers win competitions against opponents twice their size because they had the skill and talent to do so. It’s an amazing thing! This is one of the few sports that events the playing field between size, age, sexes, ethnicity and personality.
Likewise, fencing is a sport where parents and children can compete together. At Academy of Fencing Masters, it is not unusual to meet a parent and son or daughter fencing in the same competition. At a recent Senior Mixed Foil tournament, we watched a father and his teen son compete together. We also had a mother and her teen daughter in the same competition. It’s a great way for a family to bond together: sharing the same passion and vision in a sport – especially during the teenage years when the ties with our kids can become strained.
Expanding your child’s social circle
While many people who aren’t enthusiastic about team sports may enjoy the individuality that fencing offers, I think one of the biggest benefits your child will appreciate is the ability to make friends. Fencing bridges the gap between age differences, sexes, size, and ethnicity – opening the door to a network of friends that might not have been available through everyday venues such as school. This will give your kids exposure to many different types of personalities and experiences they might not have otherwise faced.
Fencing is one of the few sports where kids can compete not only on a local level, but nationally and internationally as well. Fencers often have the ability to meet — and even compete against — professional fencers on a regular basis.
Guest writer Irina Chirashnya is the founder of Academy of Fencing Masters in Campbell, CA.