fencing

OPINION — Most college students won’t be playing on the university football team anytime soon. No judgment here, my thick glasses help me write articles, not throw a ball. 

But there are sports that you can do if you are not the most physically active. For instance, I do historical fencing in the Girard Park Recreation Center.

Now, you might be asking yourself what historical fencing is. I like to say that it is medieval street fighting. Unlike modern fencing, I can wear my beautiful doublet, fence with a bigger sword, and use a dagger or cloak if I so choose. I have been doing it for the last five years in Baton Rouge, Hattiesburg and Shreveport. Historical fencing is an international sport — I just only travel with my group in the south.

In the Girard Park Recreation Center, there are two types of historical fencing that we practice, rapier fighting and cut and thrust. Rapier fighting is my preferred method, and actually the only one I practice because cut and thrust requires a lot more gear. For example, thicker gloves and elbow pads are definitely needed because the swords are heftier and the goal is to cut your opponent as opposed to stabbing them.

However, I myself already wear a lot of gear for what I do. So, what I start with is my normal athletic wear, leggings, and a t-shirt. On top of that, I wear a chest protector, which in the words of one of my friends, is a plastic bra. Next, I put on my fencing jacket Over that, I put on my leather gloves, then my hood my gorget, or dog collar, and finally, my helmet.

While I realize that that is a lot, I don’t want it to put anyone off of fencing. And you don’t need all of that at first. The coach who runs the program at the park, has lots and lots of loaner gear that anyone can wear and use. On top of that, you start out with drills that only require a mask and gloves.

I have tried both historical fencing and modern fencing, and I believe historical fencing is a lot more fun. Modern fencing has a lot more strict rules about points and is very competitive. Plus, the outfits aren’t nearly as fun. Historical fencing allows for more freedom of expression, different fighting styles and more friendly competition.

Plus, you can’t use a cape in modern fencing, and that is absolutely no fun. I am not good at using it, but it is very fun to try.

Other off-hand weapons are a dagger, my favorite, a shield, a mini-shield called a buckler, a second sword, and I’ve even seen people using a candelabra and a stuffed frog.

There are a lot of rules, but they are only for safety, and once you get used to them, they are not a big deal. Trust me, it is worth every second and gives me so much joy.

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