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Published April 22nd 2010
It is hard to imagine that anyone could sit through "Lord of the Rings", "Pirates of the Carribbean", or even "The Princess Bride", without being tempted to take up a sword and give fencing a try.

The moment they do, however, they will learn that fencing is not only a lot harder than it looks, but also that the philosophy of swordsmanship is more detailed and fascinating than they had imagined.

For starters, there is no "sword" in fencing. Rather, there are various different manifestations of the weapon: a Foil, Epee, or Sabre. Secondly, far from originating in the Hollywood Box Office, fencing is one of the oldest sports in the world, with a history extending back to 1200 BC.

The art of fencing requires not only a high degree of coordination, the ability to operate safely in close vicinity to sharp objects, but also unusually strong hamstrings. Nonetheless, it is a form of martial art that is both graceful, challenging, and possible to learn under the tutelage of the right instructor.

The NSW Fencing Association is the best resource for competitions and equipment. While the website can offer valuable information about the history and latest developments in Australian fencing, it is important for the novice to first decide whether fencing is the sport for them.

The Swords Club is based on the Pacific Highway in North Sydney and offers classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The pricing varies according to class size, with $19 for one class lesson and $26.70 for one individual lesson, including equipment hire.

Various universities around Sydney also offer lessons for enrolled students and staff. At the University of Sydney, a 9 week beginners course is run each semester. A similar class is run at the University of New South Wales.

If you really are convinced that fencing is for you, then there is no better strategy than joining a club. Not only will you find a group of like-minded people, but you will also have access to excellent equipment and competition schedules.
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Why? Great exercise and the opportunity to star in Pirates of the Carribbean
When: Evenings or Saturday mornings
Where: Around Sydney
Cost: It varies, but try to find a class that offers equipment hire
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