Fencing a workout for body and mind

By KENT MINCER

It’s like a golf swing. There are so many elements that one can tend to overthink.

That’s the first impression I got from my first venture into fencing at Grand Valley Sport Fencing.

“The first month, everyone’s going to beat you,” Christian Richardson said.

He was right. Actually, the veteran members of the Tuesday night regulars took it easy on the new guy.

A vest, a glove, a foil and a mask (all provided by Grand Valley Sport Fencing) are the only equipment needed for the first session.

Aaron Wall, who, with his wife, Corri, is the co-owner of Grand Valley Sport Fencing, spends the first half-hour of the initial session focusing on footwork — both on the attack and the defense.

Then it’s time to learn some offensive moves, thrusts and lunges. After that, you try to put the two elements together (at which point the overthinking aspect tends to come into play).

Scoring in fencing is simple. If the tip of the blade (always blunted in sport fencing) touches the torso, the fencer earns a point. The first fencer to score a designated number of points (usually 15) wins the bout.

Richardson was 8 when he took up the sport six years ago at the urging of a friend, who has since given it up. Not so for Richardson, but it took some perseverance on his part.

“At first I didn’t like it,” he admitted, but his parents had paid for a month session.

“I kept doing it,” Richardson said.

After that first month, he improved and, not surprisingly, began enjoying the sport. He now competes in four or five tournaments during the winter, mostly in Denver and Salt Lake City.

A big fan of the epic swashbuckling movies, Tiffany Bade decided to try the sport for herself seven years ago.

“I just like it,” she said of her once- or twice-a-week visits to Grand Valley Sport Fencing.

When the Beijing Olympics were in session last summer, Bade watched fencing online.

“They’re a lot faster and a lot more accurate,” she said

Just like with a golf swing, there’s always something to tinker with in a fencer’s form.

For Bade, it’s the parry.

As for her strong suit, “I counterattack well,” she said.

The Walls try to pair fencers of similar abilities.

“Aaron keeps it about the same (skill) level,” Richardson said.

The Walls offer group lessons once a week. Those who sign up are also have access to any other weekly group lesson. Private lessons are also available.

The 11/2- to 2-hour session is great aerobic exercise and can be a lifetime sport.

“It’s a good workout,” Bade said.

Be advised, however, that it can be a humbling experience for a first-timer.


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