The best sport to play is one that captures the imagination. For some, this is rugby, cricket or soccer. For many, there is a good chance that they have spent recent years with their head in a book reading about Wizards and Jedi. Fencing has a way of capturing the imagination in a way that other sports do not.
As a martial art (sometimes known as ‘The European Martial Art’), fencing has a long heritage dating back thousands of years in England. Fencing also has a link to fantasy and science fiction through films such as Star Wars, where the producer hired a well known Fencing Master, Bob Anderson, to train Jedi in the art of light sabre fighting. As one of our new fencers puts it “it’s cool because there are swords and stuff”.
There is no more important key to sport for children than them actually wanting to take part and to do so with vigour.
However, there are other benefits to fencing. Unlike other sports, martial arts, particularly fencing, promote not only strength and agility but also rapid thinking. The speed with which a fencing bout takes place is such that fencers must think very quickly and move equally fast. Experience over many years at Shakespeare’s Swords has shown that fencing promotes cognitive development, which aids the fencer in more academic disciplines as well as keeping them fit and healthy..
For some with rare talent, with support from Shakespeare’s Swords coaches, national, international or even Olympic competing is a possibility and Shakespeare’s Swords has produced its own Olympian.
We welcome the involvement of parents at all events and training sessions, in addition to supporting your child at home. We rely on parents to support the team as volunteers in a wide variety of capacities, from helping with 'home' events to helping out with competitions far and wide.
'Home' events take a significant amount of organising. Whether you can spare a little time or a lot, whether you have IT or cooking skills, or just want to serve cakes and tea, you can help. Anyone who can or would drive mini-buses to events (full training given!), or just generally help out, your input and contribution is highly appreciated. Most of all though, we value the encouragement you offer your child, which helps them achieve. Do please contact the one of the coaches if you wish to volunteer or explore further how you can contribute.
To compete, fencers must have:
Shakespeare’s Swords is set up to support people learning to fence – this is what we do. The way to start is to come along to one of the club's after-school sessions in King Edward VI School on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Please contact us should you wish to do so. In September, we make this especially easy by running a course for starters on a Wednesday for the first half-term, which is designed to offer focussed tutoring at a basic level before they ‘graduate’ into the broader coaching pool. By December (the same year!) you can expect to be competing at the Bath Sabre event.
Shakespeare's Swords welcomes all fencers of all ages at all levels.
As well as enjoying the facilities and support of King Edward VI School, we are fortunate to be supported financially by SportKES, one of the parents' associations of King Edward VI School. As such, we have been able to build up a comprehensive set of equipment for fencing which we happily loan to children during coaching sessions until they feel the need to have their own equipment. All that is required is suitable PE clothing (soft-soled shoes, track suit bottoms and a T shirt).
Because of the specialised nature of the purpose-built fencing hall, we ask that soles be of the non-marking variety. As fencers progress and begin to compete, they are encouraged to start acquiring some of their own personal equipment, for example breaches, jacket, etc. Further down the track, more equipment may be desirable; this is very much at your own pace.
We do, however, require that fencers pay for coaching sessions, with special introductory rates. Please ask the team for current pricing. Competitions require membership of British Fencing Association, as well as an entry charge. Membership of the British Fencing Association is on an annual basis.
The sight of young people charging at one another with swords is bound to raise a question in parents’ minds of how safe all this is. In practice, however, this is very misleading. The very nature of this sport means that it is one of the most regulated and safety conscious in any field. All sports inherently have some risk of injury, but sometimes this is less than obvious.
The safety equipment required for fencing, however makes serious injury extremely unlikely. In particular, the most vulnerable areas to injury – the torso, arms, groin and face, are protected by impervious garments – a steel face mask, and a specially designed plastron and jacket, which are tested to withstand high forces. The modern fencing uniform is made from ballistic nylon giving the young athletes a stab-proof vest to wear. Shakespeare’s Swords adds the discipline necessary to ensure that no larking about undermines these safety standards.
One point we would strongly advise: when purchasing equipment for your child, please buy only from reputable suppliers and manufacturers, buy only equipment that is CE or FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime or International Fencing Federation in English) certified. It should have a label with the force rating and the CE/FIE logo. We can source such equipment for your child if you wish and also provide advice on what equipment to purchase from where; please speak to one of the coaches.