First up, I signed up for Fencing! It's simply a sport that has intrigued me for years. When a fencing academy opened up in my town just a few months ago, I knew this was my year.
So, last night at 8pm (when I'm usually about ready to pass out on the couch) I began my first hour of
En Garde: also On Guard; the fencing position; the stance that fencers assume when preparing to fence.
Advance: a movement forward by step, cross, or balestra
Retreat: step back; opposite of advance.
All of this is done with your knees bent the entire time. (I am definitely feeling the burn this morning - the old body ain't what she used to be. LOL)
Footwork is paramount. You must be able to advance and retreat, keeping your weapon in front of you, your body turned and your legs bent - all while keeping your opponent in view.
Then I learned to lunge.
Lunge: an attack made by extending the rear leg and landing on the bent front leg.
And in the last 15 minutes of my lesson, they gave me a weapon!
Epee: a fencing weapon with triangular cross-section blade and a large bell guard; also a light duelling sword of similar design, popular in the mid-19th century; epee de terrain; duelling sword.
What have I learned so far:
When most people conjure up images of swordplay, what comes to mind are either the hulking, raw power of armor-clad knights battling with broadswords, or of the swashbuckling flair of Captain Jack Sparrow on a pirate deck in a Hollywood movie. But fencing is not like either of these images.
Fencers train for years, honing agility, quickness, and subtlety of movement. (Nothing I did last night resembled speed, agility or subtlety!) The sport has been described as "chess with muscles," suggesting that complicated strategy lies behind the thrusts and parries that punctuate a duel - making it a sport that requires both agility of the body and the mind (I might be screwed on this one!)
Our swashbuckling pirates and swordfighting knights and adventurers may enjoy the romantic (and brutal, really) images we dream up, but the fencing tradition is rooted in ancient combat. Around 1200 BC, the Egyptians began the custom of fencing for sport, as seen by images in decorative reliefs from that period depicting knobs on the end of weapons, earflaps and other protective garb.
And boy is it hot inside all that gear!
And that, was my adventure for a Tuesday night! The program for adults at my academy allows you go from 1-3 nights a week included in the price...but I'm not sure my legs would love me if I headed back there too quick. I'll be back next week though, eager to learn more and maybe even hone a new skill this year!