With complicated rules, procedures, and a heightened level of focus required to succeed, fencing is more than just running at opponents with swords and making hits until one runs out of energy. While fencing is relatively complex, members of the fencing club on campus encourage a fun environment for those new and old to the sport to have fun and enjoy the art of fencing.
“So we’ve got people who have been [fencing] for years and years and we have people who just started at the beginning of the semester,” president of the fencing club, Katherine Kiolbasa ’21, states. “We have a lot of new people this semester which is really exciting.”
Even though there was no readily available opportunities for Katherine to continue her fencing at the college level, that didn’t stop her from finding a way to bring the sport to campus.
“Last year I went to the activities fair and I didn’t see a fencing table so I went and talked to our Assistant Director of Recreation, Judy Allen, and figured out how to start the club,” Katherine says. “It existed before, but at the beginning of last year they kind of let it fall to the side.”
Being the niche sport that it is, most people aren’t clear on all the details of fencing and the nuances of the sport. While it can look like a simple sword-fight, fencing is more complicated than meets the eye.
“Fencing is somewhere between sword yoga and dancing where your opponent is sort of like your partner,” states Katherine. “There’s also aspects of martial arts and discipline; it’s not quite like swashbuckling. There’s a little more finesse.”
Though returning members of the fencing club are experienced fencers with potential for competition, preparing for competition takes intensive training and practice. With her eyes on competition in November, Katherine hopes to get the right number of club members ready, even when the culture of the sport presents hurdles such as varying gender discrimination.
Katherine takes the time to describe the logistics of the sport. “You need three men on a team and three women on a team, and having three female fencers in general is difficult, not to mention three female fencers at a competitive level. As a society, combat sports like fencing aren’t considered traditionally feminine. It is often referred to as a ‘gentleman’s sport’ because historically is has been a male dominated activity though it has been changing more in recent years.”
“We have a lot more people this year and we’re coordinating with a lot of other groups for events like SAIL,” Katherine says. “We have a full executive board this year, so that means we can put ourselves out there and be an established club and hopefully get to some competitive levels.”
Katherine is hopeful for the future of the semester, and believes that through collaboration with other groups on campus, the fencing club will grow both in numbers