Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any age restrictions for fencing?
There are members of our club that range in age from about 10 to several of us who are old enough to enjoy fencing with our kids. Members of all ages engage in bouts with each other, and typically find that skill and experience are the deciding factors, rather than age. For that reason, fencing is an excellent family sport.
Is fencing hard to learn?
The basics are fairly easy. Each fencer has their own style, and every individual brings something to the sport that everyone can learn from. The best aspect of the sport is that you never stop learning.
The Club offers a sixteen-session course leading to the ability to engage safely and competently in open fencing with other members.
After completing this lesson series, every club meeting includes the opportunity for further instruction in footwork and bladework.
Is Fencing Safe?
Fencing is a very safe and lifelong sport. It is an extraordinarily safe sport considering its heritage and nature. If you are new to fencing, the first question you'll likely ask is, "Are the weapons real? Are they sharp?" Yes, they are "real". No, they are not sharp. The ends are blunted and covered by either a rubber tip or flat metal "button". The risk of being injured by broken weapons is rare. Proper protective gear significantly reduces any potential risk. Centuries of fencing practice have led us to state of the art protection. Today, the best fencing jackets, pants and masks are often made with puncture-resistant fabrics such as "bullet-proof" Kevlar.
Both men and women from teens to seniors are learning to fence. It's a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Anyone can learn to fence safely with the right instruction. The following common-sense safety rules and guidelines are what make this sport safe and enjoyable.
Does it hurt?
Not if done properly. Even if executed with appreciable energy, a good, clean fencing attack hurts no more than a tap on the shoulder. The force of the blow is normally absorbed by the flex of the blade. Reckless and overly aggressive fencers can occasionally deliver somewhat painful blows. However, fencing is a martial art, so you should expect minor bruises every now and again. They are seldom intentional. The most painful blows tend to come from inexperienced fencers who have not yet acquired the feel of the weapon.
The primary source of injury in fencing is from pulled muscles and joints. Proper warm up and stretching before fencing will minimize these occurrences. As with any sport or physical activity there is always a risk of injury. Common sense precautions and realistic training goals are the best prevention.
What should I wear?
All you really need to wear to a beginners' class or a regular club session are a comfortable set of athletic shoes (court shoes work best), a T-shirt, long warm-up pants (not shorts) and long socks. The club will provide most gear you need to be properly protected during a fencing bout.
The standard fencing clothing (much of which the club provides) includes a long-sleeved fencing jacket, underarm protectors, fencing glove and a fencing mask. The club also provides the swords (epees, foils and sabres). All fencers must wear fencing knickers once they have completed the beginning class – the club does not provide these.
You are certainly free to purchase your own equipment and clothing from any of a variety of fencing retailers throughout the country. Unfortunately, there are no fencing equipment dealers in Alaska. Membership with AFC offers a discount on gear ordered through the club. If you have specific questions about what to purchase or from where, the coaches at AFC can help you further.
Where can I buy equipment?
The Anchorage Fencing Club can order equipment through a club purchase plan at a discount and with free shipping. If you prefer, there are dealers in the Lower 48 which have a Web presence and which will ship to Alaska. You may also be able to find used equipment through Club members.
How much does it cost to fence?
The Anchorage Fencing Club charges $45 a month for membership, which includes use of club equipment, weapons, the time for the gym, and other expenses.
A complete fencing outfit, including swords, can cost from a hundred dollars (non-electric starter kits) to as much as you'd like to spend.
What if I need special accommodations?
Members may attend as many or as few sessions as you'd like. There are ways that individuals with handicaps can fence, including those who use wheelchairs.