Two Derryfield freshmen, Samantha Induni and William Hadley, had the exciting opportunity to participate in the junior olympic fencing competition held in Memphis in February. Will started fencing because of an Instagram post from his older brother’s lacrosse team, and found he enjoyed it enough to keep practicing. Will intends to stay with fencing and see where it takes him. Samantha has a real enthusiasm for the sport of fencing and shared the following about her experience and future hopes for the sport:
When I tell people I fence, they envision a classic duel to the death. However, this could not be any further from the truth. While I admit my inspiration for pursuing the sport was a mixture of The Princess Bride and The Parent Trap, fencing has become something that I am very passionate about.
The sport of fencing, contrary to popular belief, is actually incredibly safe. During my three years, the only injuries I have seen are from falls and sprained ankles. Points are earned not through ‘stabs’ but through touches, and proper protection ensures the safety of the fencer.
The three main weapons are foil, epee, and sabre. In foil, the weapon that I specialize in, the target is the torso, in epee the target is the whole body (even head, feet, and hands!), and in sabre the target is everything (including the head) above the waist. These three weapons each have separate rules to follow, and, as a result, different styles for each of the three weapons have emerged. Foil and sabre both follow the concept of right of way which ensures that, in the event that both fencers score a touch, only one scores a point. Right of way is gained through initiating an attack or making blade contact. Fencers participate in bouts (to five points or three minutes) and direct elimination bouts (to fifteen points or nine minutes) while competing.
In February, I went to the Junior Olympics in Memphis, Tennessee with William Hadley, another freshman at The Derryfield School, my coach Edmundo Martinez, and another fencer from my club. It was an amazing experience, and I had the opportunity to watch and to fence against nationally-rated fencers my age, as well as college students. The competition areas consisted of two large rooms with over forty fencing strips and vendors lined up against the walls. While I was not among the best of those that attended the Junior Olympics, I intend to train persistently, using the techniques I saw, to improve my game to the best of my ability. Seeing fencing at such a high level, in person, put my regional fencing in perspective and inspired me to want to improve.
I love fencing because it is a game of mental and physical chess. Every move is beaten by another, and you must always be multiple steps ahead of your opponent. A fencer may use timing, footwork, or blade actions to deceive their opponent and score a touch. Each fencer develops their own unique style: a series of moves they are especially good at, a tendency to parry a certain way, an inclination for offense or defense. It is, when done properly, clean and elegant sport. Essentially, fencing is a version of modern swordplay in which you use a weapon to both defend yourself and attack your opponent. It really is “a battle of wits.”
I am starting a fencing club next year (2018-19) at The Derryfield School; if you are a student interested in the sport, I would love to have you join. I will be holding an information session sometime during the spring term to introduce the sport to those who are interested. It will include a rundown of the sport, equipment you can see and touch, a slideshow, and some snacks. If you have interest, I encourage you to drop by and see what fencing is about. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you are interested in pursuing fencing on your own, or as an independent sport.