If you’re familiar with fencing, you already know that this highly artistic sport and hobby is good for your body. Whether you’re sparring competitively or just practicing, those feints, appels and attacks require you to expend a significant amount of energy, so even a 30-minute session can turn into an excellent workout, too. Professional Australian fencers train for months in order to compete, and are a testament to just how much work goes into the sport when you want to excel. But fencing isn’t just good exercise; it’s psychologically stimulating and good for your mind, too.
For decades, people have drawn parallels between the sport of fencing and the game of chess, and in many ways, this connection is accurate. Both require an intense amount of concentration, and both require you to think several steps ahead if you want to succeed. You need to be able to do anticipate your opponent’s moves, planning out and modifying your stance and approach depending on what your opponent does in real-time. This process sharpens the mind and teaches you to remain focused on the task at hand, even under what may be extreme distraction. That razor-sharp focus can and often does carry over to other real-life tasks, helping you to solve problems more quickly and honing hand-eye coordination.
A large part of fencing is psychological in nature; it’s crucial that you don’t become flustered when your opponent begins to overtake you. As you play, you need to adapt a “poker face” while continuously self-managing and regulating your own stress so that your opponent never sees it on your face. Letting your emotions get the best of you won’t help your game – it may do just the opposite instead. If your emotions get the best of you, you’re likely to make mistakes, possibly allowing the enemy to overtake you. As if this wasn’t difficult enough, you’re engaging in all this self-regulating while simultaneously assessing your opponent for his or her own emotion, which may give away their next move. This is in effect a sort of practice for dealing with difficult people or situations in the real world, be it in school, friendships or the workplace.