What Are the Benefits of Fencing?

Fencing as a PE Activity 
Fencing is one of the most complete amalgamations of mind and body in the sport. It is flexible and easily accessible, in that it does not require specialized fields or courts and can be practiced in almost any open space, including cafeterias, auditoriums, and even open classrooms, making it perfect for urban areas without space for physical education. Fencing is a year round sport and even at novice levels, provides effective cardio-vascular and skeleton-muscular exercise, with benefits for improved posture whilst at the same time requiring mental/cerebral effort thus improving reaction times. It teaches hand-eye co-ordination, improves concentration and perception, core stability and balance, mobility and sporting etiquette, discipline and social behaviours. It suits all age-groups and children of all shapes, sizes and degrees of fitness because fencers can develop and participate to a level that suits them. It is also novel and different often appealing to those who do not naturally gravitate towards the commonly offered field and/or team sports. Many young people who are not motivated to participate in team ball sports successfully find than they can preserve their individuality and achieve respectable results in fencing. Fencing is also an exceptionally safe sport, with fencers suffering fewer injuries than athletes in most other sports like golf, lawn balls, swimming, tennis and soccer.

A typical 90-minute session is designed for both boys and girls and would include warm-up and stretches, reaction-time exercises and fencing-related games, footwork practice, group
lessons on technique and tactics, and bouting practice, all under the close supervision of a properly qualified coach. 

Benefits for Children
Fencing is particularly beneficial for children as is one of the most enjoyable of all exercise forms and benefits of fencing apply into every area of child’s physical and intellectual being. An hour’s active fencing burns over 400 calories and a competitive 9-minute bout can use up as much energy as a 1.6 km run! 

Physical strength, coordination, speed, agility and self-confidence are just a few of the qualities this sport requires of its participants. Children learn how to judge and determine their opponent’s intentions, behavior, reactions, habits and character so as to anticipate their actions. They learn to analyze problems, make split-second decisions and take immediate actions.

Fencers learn to enjoy winning and profit from defeats, while becoming physically fit and healthy. The anxious or worried children become more confident and assertive as they learn to move and control own body. Development of strategically thinking and other skills gained through fencing can be applied to any situation of conflict or competitive interaction with other people in everyday life.

There is a progressive pathway available in fencing and students wishing to develop further their skills and compete at the higher level have the opportunity to join fencing clubs and continue practicing fencing after school hours. Fencers applying for undergraduate places at Universities can receive NCAA scholarships. Fencers have a number of opportunities to combine their passion for playing sport when studying both in the U.S. and overseas.

Benefits for School
It has been proven that physically active children are not only healthier but also they do better academically. Fencing will contribute to increasing the school’s achievements in sport and raising the school’s profile. Over the period of last few years fencing has become more and more popular. Many prestigious U.S. colleges and universities offer fencing for men and women as NCAA sports. 

Competitive sport gives children the chance to be the very best they can be and helps us find the champions of tomorrow. This fencing program will enable school to offer an attractive competitive sport to their pupils and helping more of them to achieve their potential.

Health Benefits

The sport of fencing is an elegant, prestigious and modern combative sport based on tradition. It’s a challenge both physically and tactically between two opponents. It reflects the success qualities, which are important to contemporary young people who seek a challenge to both body and mind through an effective blend of patience and determination, discipline and competitiveness. 

Fencing is a great sport for boosting your body’s health and fitness through mentally demanding yet fun exercise. Here’s our quick introduction to the health and fitness benefits of fencing exercise. The health benefits of fencing include both physical and mental gains.  
The most direct health benefit of fencing is the exercise component of the sport.  Each fencing session is a full-body workout and challenges muscles ranging from those in the feet and lower legs all the way up to the neck, shoulders and arms. Fencing places a number of physical fitness demands on its participants. The sport develops fitness, agility, speed, strength, coordination, balance and timing. Physical ability is just as important is having a strong mental edge. It involves the analysis of strategy, tactics and psychological control, as well as mental awareness, coordination, strength, balance, dexterity and aerobic fitness. The amazing tactical complexity of modern fencing has earned the sport of fencing the nickname “Physical Chess with speed of light”. 

The art of fencing requires quick responsive movements to counter attacks from an opponent and to place the opponent on the defensive.  It emphasizes agility, alertness, and endurance. Fencing is a great cardiovascular exercise, using several sets of muscles at a demanding intensity level over an extended period of time.

With its complex physical maneuvers, fencing helps develop muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. The positions and movements in fencing must be precise to be powerful. And in order to perfect that precision, the body must become flexible and strong. In fencing, as in a martial art, power and precision go hand in hand.

Research has shown that a mind regularly challenged is less prone to degenerative diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 
Fencing has a number of health and fitness benefits to improve your body’s performance. These can include:

  • Improves flexibility.
  • Increases reflexes (famously there is the story that Polish fighter pilots stationed in Britain during WWII insisted on fencing as a method of maintaining their reflexes at a high level).
  • Boosts mental strength and concentration.
  • Increases the nimbleness of feet and hands.
  • Fencing can provide a fun way to stay fit or get in shape
  • Improves speed, agility, flexibility and reflexes
  • Enhances integrity, sportsmanship and the desire to excel
  • Brings opportunities for competition in sports
  • Offers a dynamic circle of peers and mentors
  • Leads to scholarships, Olympic and international opportunities
  • Increases focus and concentration
  • Hones strategic thinking and decision making skills
  • The sport is that it can be continued life-long.

The art of fencing is built on coordination in actions like attack, parry, riposte, counter-riposte, counter-attack that focus on sword movements and footwork. Unlike sports such as running, cycling or rowing, fencing requires you to move your body in a multitude of ways. Arms and legs have to work together in a harmonious fashion as you attack, defend and counter attack. Although there are common positions that you will adopt during a fencing match, many of the other movements you will perform during a fight will be purely reactive. Developing good coordination will make your movements smoother and less clumsy.

Mental Agility 
Fencing has also been called physical chess due to the logic and strategy tactics behind the movements. Fencing enhances your analytical and strategic capabilities by emphasizing a cool and calculating manner before passion and improvisation. You must rely on split-second physical and psychological observations of your opponent’s skills and fencing personality, whether passive or aggressive, to advance their own skills and positions. Fencing is a workout for the mind, requiring split second thinking to outwit your opponent.
·         helps relieve stress and be a great way to let off steam and frustration, 
·         helps develop powers of observation and understanding of strategy, 
·         helps develop judgement and deduction skills so as to anticipate your opponent’s actions, 
·         helps develop problem solving skills.

It was discovered that fencing can enhance mathematical performance and improves perception of geometric shapes. The analytical and abstract concepts of fencing heighten mathematical skills. 

Anaerobic FitnessFencing is an explosive start/stop sport where periods of high intensity activity are interspersed by periods of recovery. Fencing will develop your ability to perform activity independent of oxygen consumption. As your anaerobic fitness improves, you will find that you can work harder and for longer before lactic acid builds up in your muscles and forces you to slow down or stop. Lactic acid causes the burning sensation you experience in your muscles when working anaerobically. With training, your body produces less lactic acid and also is better able to clear the lactic acid out more quickly upon cessation of activity.

Aerobic FitnessAerobic fitness describes the ability of your body to take in, transport and use oxygen and is linked to cardiorespiratory health. Although fencing is predominately an anaerobic sport, your heart and lungs will get a good workout as you recover between the intense periods of activity and your body deals with the lactic acid that has built up within your muscles. As an aerobic exercise, fencing supports heart and mental health by increasing oxygen in the blood and releasing endorphins that promote a positive sense of well-being. Oxygen increases in the blood also heighten circulation, boost the immune system and enhance the body’s ability to remove pollutants such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.

Aerobic exercise is continuous movement that involves the larger muscles in your body, including your hips, legs, abdomen and arms. Looking something like a cross between boxing and dancing, fencing requires nearly constant lower body motion coinciding with defensive and offensive upper body moves. In response, your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens and your body burns calories for fuel. 
Aerobic exercise provided by fencing can be beneficial to the body’s heart health, endurance, and lung capacity and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Practicing fencing can help to regulate cholesterol levels, improve circulation and also decreases your risk of developing coronary artery disease by increasing your good cholesterol levels and decreasing your low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol.

As with all aerobic exercise, as well, fencing burns calories, helping participants to lose weight and maintain their ideal weight. Fencing also helps tone and defines the body.An hour’s active fencing burns over 400 calories and a competitive nine minute bout can use up as much energy as a 1.5 km run!  This type of exercise can also be effective at lessening the risk of developing osteoporosis. Getting about half an hour of this aerobic exercise a day can help to fully realize the health benefits of fencing.

Cardiovascular Response 
As your respiratory rate increases and deepens during fencing, the oxygen levels in your blood rise. When your heart rate increases, your small blood vessels, or capillaries, widen. As they widen, they carry more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and remove waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Working your heart out regularly makes it stronger and stronger hearts pump blood more efficiently.

The physical health benefits of fencing also include increased flexibility.  Fencing requires the use of a wide range of motion to respond and deflect opposing attacks.  The core, arms, and legs all develop a good deal of flexibility in regular fencers. Fencing is a sport of lunging. It takes good lower body flexibility to make longer lunges and to lunge lower. The deeper you can lunge and the farther you can stretch, the more able you will be to hit your opponent but stay out of his reach. Deep lunges will improve the flexibility in your thighs, hips and glutes as well as your upper back, lower back and shoulders as you reach forward to try and tag your opponent. Because the lunging motion is used in most attacks, mobility and flexibility in the hips is important. 

Strength and Endurance 
Fencing involves constant footwork. To exhibit skill in the sport, it’s necessary to be able to move quickly, demonstrate lightness on your feet and be flexible with movements. Fencing bouts involve many attacks and counterattacks. You need good muscular endurance to avoid becoming fatigued during a match. A fencing match will consist forward and backward movement in the en garde position will be finished with and recoveries, so lower body muscular endurance is critical. Because your sword arm will be constantly moving while bearing the weight of the weapon (epee 750g), upper body endurance is also vital. These movements will increase your leg strength and endurance. 

The fencer must develop strong calf muscles able to take the brunt of any sudden, quick and explosive leg movements.

The core and stomach muscles are largely responsible for balance, posture and stability, all of which are vital in fencing. A weak core means that a fencer won’t be able to keep his balance and will have trouble executing movements properly. In contrast, a fencer with a lot of experience has definition in the core, abdominal and midsection area from numerous balance and stabilization exercises as well as hours in combat.

Every time a fencer lunges forward, backward or to the side, he/she works his/her thigh and quadriceps muscles. Even weight distribution in a lunge helps fencers stay upright and become more effective at their sport. In addition to lunges, fencers challenge their quad muscles whenever they dart in any direction or perform a split-step movement to center their weight and gravity.

Shoulders are one of the primary muscles that fencers use in training and combat.  Fencers exercise and tones shoulders when darting forward to thrust or pulling backward to avoid an attack. Common training exercises for fencers also include martial arts movements and shadow boxing, punching and sparring, which also work the shoulders and upper back.
Bouncing is an integral part of fencing and requires fencers to brace the lower back to maintain balance and move effectively forward and backward along the fencing strip. Often fencers stay on the balls of their feet when bouncing and to brace the lower back. Engaging lower back muscles and tightening them is an essential part of keeping your balance and successfully performing fencing maneuvers.


Club members who are beginner fencers may use club equipment for the first 8 weeks, after which they are expected to have their own basic equipment jackets, breaches, undeplastrons, masks, weapons, etc. For more information about equipment requirements you can speak to your coach for help ordering or  determining what you need.

 – It is always fencer’s responsibility to be familiar with and follows all current Club, USFA and FIE rules and policies. 
 – It is fencer’s responsibility to use only such equipment which meets all current requirements and renew accordingly.   
 It is fencer’s responsibility to check equipment every time before using it and ensure at all times that equipment you use is safe. 
– All equipment must be regularly maintained and removed from use if defective or you are unsure about its condition.
An introduction to fencing kitMuch of the equipment used in fencing is worn with safety in mind. Fencing is an extremely safe sport provided the correct equipment is worn.  All protective equipment is mandatory when fencing in the club and no fencers is allowed to bout without proper mask, glove and jacket.
Choosing fencing equipment can be confusing, particularly for beginners. Information in this guide is provided to assist fencers when purchasing equipment and get the most from the sport while staying safe. 
At various levels of competitions fencers must follow the rules as adopted by the US Fencing Association (USFA), and the International Fencing Federation (FIE).

Fencing equipment can be divided into two categories: 
–       protective equipment (jacket, breaches, undeplastron, mask, etc.), and 
–       electrical scoring equipment (weapons, body wire). 

The basic fencing equipment and clothing provides a fencer with protection compatible with the freedom of movement necessary for fencing. A full set of equipment is required for competitions. 
The main parts of a fencer’s gear are as follows:   
Jacket: is made from resistant cloth and includes a lining that makes a double thickness of material for the sleeve down to the elbow of the sword arm and covering the flank up to the armpit.
Underplastron: must be worn under the jacket for extra protection.
Breeches: protects from just below knees to several centimeters above the waist.
Socks: must be knee-length and cover legs completely and breeches should overlap them.
Chest protector: plastic chest protector is mandatory for females and male youth fencers under 14.
Mask: is protective item covering the face and sides of the head and incorporate a bib made of protective material over the front of the neck. They include a back strap to keep them in place. Masks are weapon specific.
Glove: is slightly padded with a gauntlet and protects the palm and the forearm of the fencer’s sword arm.
Swords:  epee with various quality and sizes of blade.
Body cord: serves as the connection between a fencer, sword and a reel of wire that is part of a system for electrically detecting that the weapon has touched the opponent.
Shoes: fencing shoes are preferable but any athletic or tennis shoes will do
Bag: is optional, but useful, when carrying fencing equipment

Besides the basics, there exists a whole host of other pieces and parts which fencing equipment suppliers can provide for you. These consist of everything from spare blades and parts to replace broken gear to component upgrades, premium uniforms, and tools to help you test and fix your own gear.

Please remember that at fencing competitions whenever a fencer appears on fencing strip and during every bout he/she must always have equipment in working condition and in right quantity, e.g. 2 weapons and 2 body wires. 

For U/11, U/13 and school competitions are some exception made. NSW Fencing has equipment available for hire for those competitions. For those categories foil blades are shorter therefore it is recommended borrowing them at competitions but of course you heave to have at least one electric weapon for club bouts. 

Depending on the level at which you are fencing, different standards of equipment will be required. At the national competitions organised by Australian Fencing Federation (AFF) equipment must meet standards required by the FIE – this is a higher standard than is required at NSWFA competitions.