Does your child love to play “sword-fighting”? Do they enjoy lots of mentally challenging activities? If they do, you might have a budding fencer on your hands.
Fencing, also known as Olympic fencing, is the martial art of fighting with blades that has seen its popularity grow over the past few years, especially after the success of Canadian athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Divided into three weapon categories—foil, sabre, and épée—fencing is a form of duelling between two opponents with the goal of scoring “hits” on an opponent’s body (each “hit” is worth one point). The first player to score the predetermined number of “hits” (usually between five and 15) wins the “bout.” Bouts are quick and last a maximum of nine minutes.
Is there a good age for kids to start fencing?
Patricia Lynne Howes, the varsity head coach and fencing program coordinator at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont., and Conseil international du sport militaire Team Canada coach, got involved in fencing as a student in university after participating and competing in a variety of sport and recreation activities as a child. However, many clubs suggest fencing can begin anywhere around the age of seven or eight years old. (Check with your local fencing club first!)
“Fencing is such a fantastic sport in so many ways,” says Howes, one of only two women fencing masters in Canada. “While it teaches you the technical/tactical skills of attacks, defence and counter-offence, it also challenges your brain and mind. It also has problem solving, but in a unique way, because, while our brains are so actively figuring things out, you forget about how hard your body is working—it’s a great combination.”
Benefits of fencing for kids
Fencing is not only an incredibly safe sport and one that nearly anyone can participate in, it’s also a great way to stay active, build self-esteem, improve academic performance, and foster lifelong friendships. Plus, it can really appeal to kids with a gamer mindset. And while fencing might seem like a different sport than the usuals (like soccer, hockey, baseball, and basketball), it can actually be compared to hockey in many ways, and might not be all that challenging for your kids to get used to.
Howes notes that for parents who are looking for a great way for their kids to stay active, learn something new, and counter screen time, fencing is a great option.
“As one parent said to me years ago, what you invest in fencing will always be worth it, because it is a sport that will continue to positively shape, influence and develop your child both physically and mentally well into adulthood… and that is worth every penny!”
To find out where your nearest fencing club or school program is located, contact your provincial sport organization for more information. We’ve included a list below of fencing associations in most provinces. You can also search fencing clubs in your area or, to learn more about fencing in general, visit the Canadian Fencing Federation.
- Ontario Fencing Association
- BC Fencing Association
- Alberta Fencing Association
- Manitoba Fencing Association
- Fédération d’escrime du Québec
- Fencing – Escrime New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador Fencing Association
- Saskatchewan Fencing Association
- Fencing Association of Nova Scotia (Note: nsfencing.ca is down, but you can check out Halifax Enguardians here.)
- PEI Fencing Association