Club Spotlight: The Olympic Sport of Fencing

The fencing club is a fantastic environment for taking out your frustrations with honor, and stabbing your friends with grace and aplomb. We meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and fill the halls of various academic buildings with the sound of swords clanging and shouts of on-lookers.

The purpose of the club is to allow students to learn, practice, and enjoy the Olympic sport of fencing.

Everyone is welcome. Club members will train any student who is interested in how to use one or all three of the styles of fencing weapons used at the Olympics, and the club provides swords and protective gear for its practicing members.

The sword types are foil, epee, and saber. Saber is the closest the club comes to swashbuckling pirates, and is also generally the most aggressive of the three weapons. In saber, a variety of cuts and slashes are used to hit one’s opponent with any part of the blade, but only on the top half of the body.

In contrast, epee is generally considered the least aggressive of the three weapons, in which fencers stab their opponent with only the point of their sword, but on any part of the body.

Foil comes halfway between epee and saber. Foil fencers stab their opponents as in Epee (tip only), but have complicated scoring and judging rules similar to those found in saber. Foil is also the weapon of choice for incoming club members, as it teaches new fencers the basics of footwork and offensive and defensive moves.

The club not only teaches fencing, but allows students the opportunity to use their skills. The club belongs to the Baltimore-Washington Collegiate Fencing Conference (BWCFC), a collection of fencing clubs in the region including University of Maryland College Park, the Navy Academy, and University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The BWCFC holds three tournaments a year, one in the fall and two in the spring. The first two are team events in which each club sends three teams (one for each weapon) to compete against other schools. Of the ten schools in the BWCFC this year, St. Mary’s is ranked second overall and the foil team is in first place, having gone undefeated. The third tournament is an individual competition generally reserved for those who participated in the team competitions.

Our club also sponsors tournaments at St. Mary’s and tries to go to other competitions throughout the year, such as Fence-A-Thon, an all night fencing tournament.

If you are interesting in joining, come to the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center by the pools this week, or contact me via email ( for more information.  We hope to see you there!


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