Grab your dreams and strut your stuff to the newly opened Sydney Sabre Centre in Stanmore. A brand new fencing centre with Olympic standard facilities. The only integrated training centre in the southern hemisphere dedicated to fencing, online and in house retail products.
I went along to the Sabre Centre to feed my own inner desire and participated in an introductory lesson.
Firstly, you don the essential protective gear, a mesh helmet, a plastic breast piece – for women and long sleeve shirt, given a glove and a sabre sword.
Next, you learn the basic footwork, walking forward and backward along the mat several times until you get the hang of it, then you are introduced to the three basic sword blocks and hits and finally, you will put the two actions together.
I was a little tentative hitting the instructor on his helmet in the beginning fearing I would hurt him, but I soon got over it and the fun began quite quickly, nothing was going to penetrate those helmets.
Putting the two together, see the blur? That's me in action! At this point I was feeling pretty good until I looked at the photo and noticed the instructor was taking it easy.
Now we were ready to fence or dual as I liked to consider it.
More protective clothing; slipping on the Kevlar jacket and the essential wiring that slips through the sleeve of the jacket to attach to the sword. It then runs to the back of your jacket and attaches to the cabling connected to the scoring box. I looked like a three year old wearing a harness so I would not run away.
There is also a clip which attaches to the inside of your helmet. All this is necessary to record your hits on your opponent. We tested everything was working and we were ready to begin.
Beginners (me) fencing all wired up and actually fencing.
Going in for the hit, Touche! I had 'vacant left arm syndrome', it felt out of place, should I place it up in the air, stiff down my side, behind my back, where should it go, how do you hold it? Something they neglected to tell me.
Each point lasts around 10-15 seconds and a bout goes to 15 points, that's around a mere 5 minutes. Sounds pretty passive, yet with the explosive action and concentration required to score a point it takes quite a lot of energy both mentally and physically. The sweat begins to ooze out of your body. This is a proper combat sport and you require focus from the start.
Playing competitive squash for many years took its toll on my ankles with the rapid turns and twists, alas I had to hang up my racquet. Sabre fencing gave me the same explosive action I loved, moving along the mat is only in a forward and backward movement which pleases my poor injured ankles. You also get a good workout in your thighs and glutes, yes they were a little sore the following day. It also fed my competitive spirit.
After the introductory lesson with the instructors.
I am a female baby boomer and found it pretty easy it pick up the basics and was able to win a few games against a young male on the night. Fitness is a certain requirement, although mental and tactical agility goes a long way - so don't be dismayed because of age or gender.
Introductory session costs $35 inclusive of lesson, equipment and bouting.
Single classes cost $25.
Our modern day sport of fencing is divided into three sword or weapon categories, which differ in the type of sword used, where you can 'hit' your opponent and scoring.
Historically, these three swords were used in duels to the death, they now have a state of the art electronic score board equipment to determine the winner. Fear not, the ends of the swords are folded and blunt and you wear lots of protective clothing.
Sabre – is the fastest and most explosive of the three disciplines, so you have to have your wits turned on at all times, so it will be the most fun. It is the only sword with a military tradition and was the standard weapon with cavalry in the majority of armies until World War I.
You score a hit using a thrusting and cutting action with the side of the blade, targeting the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. In the old days, it was considered 'bad form' to injure a horse, you don't have to worry about that at the centre, we are in the 21st century.
If both fencers hit at the same time, the person who has 'right of way' - the person who initiated or was the first aggressor gets the point. So it pays to be the first off the mark.
Sabre is the most fun and the most appealing to kids.
Foil – was invented in France in the 18th century as a training weapon for the short sword carried by the gentlemen of the day. It was used to practice fast and elegant fencing, later becoming a dueling sword.
It is much slower than sabre with short bursts of speed. You can only score in a light thrusting action hit your opponent with the tip of the sword and only on the torso. Foil has the most rules, way to many to go through them all. It is also the only sword that flexes.
Epee - is a heavier sword than the foil and sabre. It replaced the rapier in the 17th century as a civilian duelling sword.
The rules are simpler, there is no 'right of way'. You can score by hitting you opponent with the tip only anywhere on the body and if both fencers hit they both receive a point.
History of Swords
The earliest sign of forged steel was around 4500 BC, with the Sumerians the true founders of metallurgy. The Roman god Vulcan was dedicated to the forge.
Swords have been used across many cultures for centuries. With the Vikings, Egyptians, Romans, Turks, Medieval, Samurais, Indians, Chinese, Ninjas, Scottish, Celtics, Arabians, Africans, Crusaders and during the Civil War until the rifle became a more efficient weapon.
Fencing is now a modern day Olympic sport and LARP – Live Action Role Playing began in the 1970's use foam swords.
Legendary and Ceremonial Swords Legendary Swords
Stories of The Sword in the Stone and Excalibur, instilled with magical powers surrounded King Arthur of Britain's reign.