Fencing Lessons for Life: What else are you walking away with other than getting really good at hitting people with swords?
Competitive fencers spend hours upon hours perfecting hits, timing, and footwork. So what does all of this lead to later on in life? Maybe you fence for fitness, or you find it’s a fun hobby. Perhaps you’re training to reach the national team or attain an athletic scholarship, or maybe you want to take it all the way to the Olympic Games. Whatever your competitive level of fencing is, there’s more you are gaining from the sport than just how to hit a moving target with meticulous speed and accuracy.
Let’s take a step back here and take a look at all the things you gain from participation in a sport like fencing that will help you in other areas of life. For a majority of young fencers only a small percentage of fencers go on to continue competing at a high level after college, and even those fencers who do reach the international stage eventually retire to move on to other chapters of life, but the lessons you take away from fencing stay with you forever. You might be curious (and your parents certainly must be) about what life skills you’ll walk away with when you put eventually move on to bigger things.
We know that fencing is a type of martial art, but the likelihood of someone coming up to you in the street and challenging you to a duel is quite low. However, as a fencer you have developed a good sense of how to control your movements. Given the importance of injury prevention in fencing, all of our competitive fencers not only train in footwork and bladework, but also learn a variety of cross-training techniques and coordination. Having this physical education and improved sense of kinesthetic awareness helps you pick up other physical abilities with ease.
Every fencer understands attaining success in fencing involves setting goals and working towards those goals relentlessly. There will be challenges, there will be bad days, sore legs, rough competitions, and setbacks. Fencers who reach success keep working through these setbacks and learn how to persevere not just through challenges within the sport but also through life. Participation in fencing teaches students how to cope with stressful situations and overcome their fears. We learn how to commit to our decisions and take up responsibility for our own progress.
Even though fencing is primarily an individual sport, you learn how to cooperate with others. Not only through team competition, but by working together with your teammates every day in practice you build the skills to encourage others, motivate, and believe in a common cause. In addition, you learn how to accept help and trust those who believe in you.
Respect & Etiquette
While fencing is a combat sport primarily based on attempting to maim or kill your opponent, there is a tremendous amount of respect given to your opponent. We learn to respect each other as athletes knowing that we are both giving our full effort to defeat each other. We also learn how to demonstrate respect for authority figures (referees) even when we may disagree with their calls. Even under adversity, we learn how to maintain a sense of decorum.
Through fencing, and in youth sports as a whole, young people are able to learn how to take risks in a safe environment. Sports provide an arena for kids to experiment with decision making and processing different results in a positive way. We learn that losing isn’t the end all be all of life. As young athletes grow in the sport and begin to achieve success, they are able to build their confidence. For young adults who have experienced their progress over time and understand what hard work can do for them, they are more likely to approach new challenges with high self-esteem and confidence that they can continue to succeed even when confronted by completely new challenges.