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Fencing for Kids

Fencing Intro

 

Find a Fencing Club Kids Fencing Fencing Equipment Fencing Terms
Referee Signals Fencing Penalties Three essential skills of fencing Tips for Selecting a Fencing  Teacher Tips and Advice on Fencing Competitions
Equipment Care

AGE GROUP BOYS AND GIRLS 4 to Adult

Fencing, which is the sport of fighting with swords, has always been popular in Europe,  but is now gaining phenomenal popularity in the United States .  Each student is trained with techniques to complement their strengths and supplement their weaknesses. It is a sport that is enjoyed by both recreational and competitive fencers of all ages. There are competitions for all ages and levels.  The three levels of fencing are the Epee, Foil, and Sabre, which define the weapon used for defense and attack. 

 Fencing Programs for Kids

 

Youth fencing programs are designed to develop discipline, coordination, reflexes, balance,  strategic thinking, and sportsmanship.  Success in fencing is not based on size, strength and speed alone, victory often goes to the smartest and most determined fencer.

Types of classes and programs vary at each club.   Some coaches and clubs teach only one weapon, while others offer all three.  So you will need to do some research to find what  works for your family.

There are some clubs that have programs where kids can join an intro-fencing class, where plastic equipment is used for safety, as early as four years old.  At this age the focus is on basic footwork, blade work and hand-eye coordination exercises. Classes are meant to be fun and children are taught using a variety of games.

At the age of 7 or 8 they move to a beginner's class and start to use metal equipment.  Generally, kids younger do not have the fine motor skills to perform precise motions with a foil, or the focus necessary to follow safety rules concerning weapons.  Beginners classes will teach your child the fundamentals of how to fence.

At the intermediate level, around the ages of 11 - 16, they will learn the rules, techniques, and terminology of the sport of fencing.  At the higher intermediate level more advanced students are introduced to offense and defense with the blade and they begin to bout. 

Based on skills and talent they can then move on to advanced or competitive classes, where they are introduced to the epee and saber.  It is here that they begin to attend local and regional competitions.  The elite students compete on the national/international level.

Competition fencing age groups...

There are five official age groups for kids and juniors recognized by the US Fencing Association:

  • Youth 10 (ages 6-10)
  • Youth 12 (ages 9-12)
  • Youth 14 (ages 11-14
  • Cadet (under 17 for the season and under 16 for the Summer Nationals)
  • Junior (under 20 for the season and under 19 for the Summer Nationals)

The exact age range for each age group is set based on the fencer's birth year.  The age rules are published in the annual competitors handbook of the US Fencing Association and can be found on the USFA website.   In general, fencers may compete in their own age group and in the age group above their age, unless they meet certain national ranking requirements. 

Fencers can compete at state and national Junior Olympics championships (Cadet and Junior fencers), in a  circuit of age group meets, and at the Summer Nationals.

There is no correct time to start competing.   It is possible for some students to consider competitions after training for at least six months, on a regular basis, and they have some experience with “electric” fencing.  If this criteria has been met, and the fencer has the necessary competition gear than it comes down to when the fencer feels ready. They must be willing to win or lose since that is part of competing.

However, serious attempts at competing are generally possible after 2-3 years, when the basic skills have been sufficiently mastered and the fencer understands strategy.  To reach a proficient level of skill it can take a few years of regular practice and competition. The elite ranks, world cup/international 'A' level,  requires extensive practice and competition, and usually at least 5-10 years of experience.


 

 

How do I join a fencing club?

If your child is interested in fencing than you should contact a club to set up a visit.  It is important to make sure that fencing is really what your child wants to do. While visiting be sure to talk to coaches, other parents, and current fencers to find out about the club atmosphere, coaching techniques and general satisfaction.  If you are sure that this is what you child wants to do than talk to the club about their registration process

What is the commitment level for fencing?

It is recommended that you start your child in group lessons to allow them to learn the basics in a fun, non-pressure environment. This is also the most cost effective way to determine that fencing is something your child really wishes to  pursue on a long-term basis.  

Some clubs will accept students at any time while others only accept new students at certain times each year.  It really depends on how they structure their programs.  Recreational classes usually run in sessions.  Most clubs will do sessions monthly or every six to eight weeks and require meeting twice per week on a set schedule.  Beginner, intermediate and advanced classes usually last between 1 - 1. 5 hours.

As with any sport whether you are a beginner fencer or a competitive fencer, you need to practice and learn new skills in order to advance.  Increasing your fencing knowledge and techniques will help you to advance quickly and this can only be accomplished by training.  The more you attend classes the quicker you will advance.  Fencers that faithfully attend classes twice a week, and regularly compete against superior fencers will develop three to four times faster. As you advance in fencing the training will increase.  For instance, serious competitive fencers will train daily. 

Cost for fencing classes

Fencing is a relatively inexpensive sport, until your child begins to travel to other states to compete at the national level. 

Each fencing program sets their own rates and prices will vary by region and level of expertise of the coach.  You can, however, expect to pay  between $80 - $125 per 6 -8 week session.  You may have an additional cost for equipment rental if you choose this option.  It will run approximately $5 - $7 per session or $15 - $20 on a monthly basis.  In addition, some clubs have open fencing sessions which will cost $10 -$20 per session if you go. 

You will find however that most clubs have membership programs which include weekly group lessons, open fencing time, and may include private lessons. Some places will offer family memberships as well.  Memberships can range from $50 to $250 depending on the type. 

Individual Instruction is for fencers who want to develop quickly and advance to higher skill levels. The individual instruction develops the refined movements, perceptions and strategies needed for success in competition.  Individual lesson will run about $40 - $50 for 20 minutes, and $75 - $85 for 40 minutes.

It is a requirement for many fencing clubs that fencers be members of the United States Fencing Association for insurance purposes and to compete in local or national tournaments. Membership forms can be obtained at the club and fees are approximately $60.

Competitions...

As with most other sports the costs of competing can easily outweigh club membership and equipment costs.  You have to take into consideration that you will have to pay for travel, accommodations and entry fees for each event and coaches fees.

There are local, regional, and national tournaments, all with competition divided into age groups, starting with age 10 and under.  Participation varies with each fencer. While some fencers go to the United States Fencing Association's (USFA) Summer Nationals, a multi-day tournament with hundreds of fencers, others only compete locally. There are numerous competitions locally for all fencers from beginner to Olympian to compete.

Tournament fees:
A tournament is comprised of several events.  Local  tournament fees average $20.00 per event while National tournaments can cost $45 and up per event.

Plan on spending a great deal of time at a competition. Fencing events generally take all day.

For more details on competitions see All Star Activities When to Start Competing Page.