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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Fencing Club takes a stab at UA

Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jay Fowler (black pants), a pre-business freshman, and Kyle Penner, a second year graduate student studying astronomy, practice their skills with electric
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Jay Fowler (black pants), a pre-business freshman, and Kyle Penner, a second year graduate student studying astronomy, practice their skills with electric

There are few students on the UA campus who can say their extracurricular activities revolve around swordplay.

“”You get to play with swords,”” said James Fowler, who started the Arizona Fencing Club. “”What could be better than that? It’s great starting motivation.””

The Arizona Fencing Club has been in existence for a little more than two months and has a current membership of 10 students, most of whom are beginners from various academic interests.

Fowler, a pre-business freshman, has been fencing for four years and started the club in hopes of having other people with whom he can fence.

He began fencing at the Arizona Fencing Center in Mesa under the tutelage of a fencing master. The thought of using a sword drew his interest.

“”When I started, I couldn’t stop,”” he said. “”I just went and tried it one day, and it was amazing. By the time I came to (the UA), I was fencing every day, except for Sundays when the (fencing center) was closed.””

The formation of the club was fairly easy, but putting everything in place has been difficult. Only recently has the club been approved for funding to get equipment for its members.

Practice space has also been hard to come by. The club currently holds practice twice a week in one of the racquetball courts in the Student Recreation Center.

Kyle Penner, a second-year astronomy graduate assistant and treasurer of the club, believes anyone can fence.

“”It’s not as intimidating as you might think,”” Penner said. “”You can pick up things really quickly.””

As an undergrad at the University of Texas, Penner was a member of the fencing club and fixed the equipment under the title of armorer.

As a child, he tried many sports, but fencing was the first sport to stick. Both Penner and Fowler have more than four years of fencing experience and hope to pass along what they know to their fellow club members.

There are three types of bladed weapons that a fencer can use, but the club uses the épée, a heavy thrusting weapon. The swordplay may pique initial interest in fencing, but technique and footwork are important aspects.

“”It takes a long time to get good,”” Fowler said, “”but not long to reach a level of basic competitiveness. It’s not hard but does require finesse. People who are athletic will do well.””

There are lots of strategies one can employ when fencing with an opponent. While using the épée, any area of the body is a target. With the foot often left exposed, Fowler said he is fond of toe touches, as a hit on the toe is as valuable as a hit to the chest.

Currently, the Fencing Club does not compete in any team events as it is still in development. In Arizona, such events are not common, and the opportunities to participate in competitions are limited. The club is aiming to compete in such events in the future.

The best way to fence with other people is to teach them, Fowler said.

Dress for the occasion

Danielle Grijalva, an astronomy and physics double major, had a quirky beginning to her fencing experience.

“”I made (the) mistake of showing up in jeans the first (practice),”” she added laughing. “”We started practicing footwork, and it was not good. It was strongly suggested I wear some tennis shoes.””

While athletic attire will greatly enhance one’s footwork and performance in fencing, the club’s overall goal is trying something new, while having fun along the way.

“”(It’s) a lot of fun,”” Grijalva said. “”I thought it was something to do and would be a good opportunity to get a little exercise.

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