Starting Your Kids on Fencing LessonsFitness Gear & Equipment
Children should not really start to learn to fence until they are 7 or 8-years old. Younger than that they are not developed enough to grasp what is being asked of them, with the result they will end up frustrated and probably be put off the sport forever.
Many clubs will not take children until they are at least 8-years-old, and some very good junior fencers did not start until they were 10. The technical and tactical skills for fencing needs a level of maturity on the part of the participant.
Some clubs do have programmes where kids can join an Introduction to Fencing class where plastic equipment is used. The classes focus on basic footwork, blade work and hand-eye co-ordination. Classes are fun and children are taught using a variety of games.
If there is not a club holding one of these classes near you, you can do the same sort of thing at home. Go to the local toy store and get some fun swords. Run around with the kids smacking each other with the swords and have lots of fun doing it. You will notice the youngsters will soon learn to parry naturally to avoid getting hit.
The best way for parents to understand why clubs will not teach very young children to fence is to go along and watch a class of 9-12-year-olds. The 9-year-olds have the most trouble, the 10-year-olds are just beginning to understand the body-mind connection which is required of them and the 11-12-year-olds are the most co-ordinated.
The three levels of fencing are Epee, Foil and Sabre which define the weapon for defence and attack. There are five official age groups for kids and juniors recognised by the United States Fencing Association
- Youth 10 (ages 6-10)
- Youth 12 (ages 9-12)
- Youth 14 (ages 11-14)
- Cadet (Under 17 for the season, under 16 for the Summer Nationals)
- Junior (Under 20 for the season, under 19 for the Summer Nationals)
The age range for each group is based on the fencer's birth year. The clubs that have Introduction to Fencing classes move the 7 & 8-year-olds up to a beginners class where they start to use metal equipment. Generally at this age they are too young to perform the precise motions with a foil, or focus on the safety rules concerning weapons so the children will be taught the the fundamentals of how to fence.
If the children start to learn to fence at 8-years-old they will be moved to intermediate level when they reach 11 or 12-years-old. At that stage they will be taught the rules, techniques, and terminology of the sport of fencing.
They are not introduced to the Epee and Sabre until they move to the advanced or competitive classes.
Fencing Gear for Children
When the child or children are old enough to start proper fencing lessons they need the following gear
- Fencing Jacket
- Practice weapon
They should get a size 2 blade if they are 10-years-old or under which is approximately 32" long. If that is still too long there is a Size 0 blade which is about 30" long. The standard adult size 5 blade is approximately 35" long.
It is no use buying fencing gear for a 3 or 4-year old. They would fall out of any mask and every jacket would be far too big.
How to Find a Club Where Your Kids Can Learn Fencing.
- Get on the Internet and go to the United States Fencing Association (or your country's equivalent Fencing Association) home page.
- Go to the menu on the left of the site and click on New to Fencing.
- Click on Where Can I Fence?
- Look for your State on the map and work out which division you are in.
- Open links to schools or clubs in your division.
- Call the telephone number listed for the club you are interested in.
- If no telephone number is listed write or email the contact person telling them the name and age of the child who wants to learn to fence.