By: Brittany G.

Anyone interested in swordplay? I certainly am! Ever since I was little I’ve found sword fighting fascinating. Everything about it interested me: the movements of the fighters, the speed at which one had to react, the different styles of swordplay. When I was little, I was constantly asking my parents if they would get me a sword so I could learn the art of swordplay, but every time they would say no.

That is until last year. I found a sport at school that was very much like sword fighting, so I looked into it and saw it was to my liking. So, I asked my parents if I could join. And every since then, I’ve been a fencer.

Fencing is not a well-known sport, though it an amazing sport to do. Fencing is the art 
of dueling one-on-one with an opponent and trying to gain as many points as you can by stabbing or slashing, depending on your weapon. There are three different weapons: foil, epee, and saber. Each weapon has different rules that are set in place and different targets which actually count. I am a saber fencer, so I have more maneuverability and an easier target space.

In saber, most of your points will be made by slashing, and the entire upper body is a target, waist up to head, including arms. The stance for every fencer is the same, consisting of the dominant foot forward and the other foot behind with the center of gravity on that leg. The basic movement and sword motions are the same as well: advance, retreat, parry and attack. There are other, more advanced maneuvers, such as the beat-touché, which helps a fencer to become more successful in bouts, a round of one fencer against another. When I first started out fencing, it took me awhile to understand all the basics, but it wasn’t long before I was up on the strip actually fencing during practice.

After a few weeks of practice, our first tournament came along. All of the new fencers, most of us freshmen, were a little worried about our first tournament. None of us thought we were ready, but we did okay. I didn’t do too well at that tournament, nor at any others throughout the year. We always fence the same people at tournaments, and there are only 7 women’s saber fencers in the league, four of which are from my school. The other three girls were incredible. They all had fenced for at least two years, and the number one female fencer had been fencing for over four years. They crushed us hard throughout the entire year. I had lost hope of medaling in a tournament by the time the championship came around in April but the championship was my best tournament yet.

We started with the pools, where every fencer fenced everyone else. This went by fast since there were only seven of us, and within half an hour, our rankings and the arrangements for DEs (direct elimination rounds) were posted. I looked at the postings with dismay. I was going to fence the best fencer from my own school, and whoever lost this bout was out of the tournament. So, I went into the bout thinking I was going to lose, but I came out as the victor. Excitement was starting to swell inside me because I had never passed the first round of DEs but that excitement soon turn to sorrow. In the semi-finals, I would be fencing the number one women’s saberist. I had never even come close to beating her before, so I didn’t expect to this time. When we were called up on the strip, I remembered what she had told me at the last tournament. “Don’t be afraid to move.” This made me speed up my pace and react faster. By the time we were at the two-minute mark, the score was 6-8. I was actually keeping up with her! This was a first for her, and you can tell she was a bit surprised. The surprise turned to worry, however, when we got to the four-minute mark. 12-13. It was spectacular! Adrenaline flowed through me as well as the realization that this was the best I had ever fenced and I was so close to victory! However, she won in the end. The final score was 13-15, but that’s a score I will always remember because of how much I fought to maintain it. When we walked up to shake hand, she even said something that I did not expect. “Great job. You really made me fight for that one.” This sounded like the best praise I had ever gotten in this sport. Being complimented by the number one fencer meant a lot to me and  her compliments will be motivation to strive for first place next year.

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