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Club starts new fencing lessons

Allison Martin


IT WAS swords at sundown as Reebok introduced the noble art of fencing to Canary Wharf.

With Catherine Zeta Jones in Zorro in mind I joined a group of swashbuckling Wharfers trying their hand at swordsmanship at the Canada Square Park sports club.

To my relief, instructor Lance Larsen assured me you don't have to be too sporty.

"It's a great equaliser as there's a bit of luck involved," he said.

"The hardest guy to beat is the most unpredictable and beginners are certainly unpredictable."

"Fencing is about speed, technique, balance and co-ordination.

"The fact that it's not all about strength means women and men can compete equally."

Lance explained we would be using a foil, the smallest of three fencing swords.

He then showed us the "engarde" stance: feet at right angles with the right foot facing forwards and both knees bent.

With your sword arm extended and your other at your side for balance, you face your foe.

Fencing is about anticipating your opponent's moves - like physical poker. When they move a step forward you move a step backward to stay just out of their reach.

We practised this - dancing back and forth in pairs.

Then we learned to lunge, stepping forward with the front leg and extending the arm to make a hit - hits win points.

Next came the really cool part - I donned my white jacket, mask and a glove for my sword hand and picked up my foil - ready for battle.

We partnered up to practise our lunges - taking turns to be on the attack before learning some defensive moves or parries, different ways of blocking your opponent's shot.

Then came the best bit - teaming up for a real fight.

It surprised me how exhausting fencing is, but most of all how much fun I had and how eager I am to do it again.

Let me be clear - I'm no gym bunny, and was the last kid in school to be picked for any team - so if I can get into fencing, anyone can.

lTaster sessions and a course will be running at the Reebok Sports Club London. Email michael.arnold@reebok sportsclublondon.com.


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