Fencing is becoming more and more popular for younger children. There are many programs out there, such as the ones at Silversword Fencing that use this sport and fencing basics to help children develop fundamental movement skills, or gross motor skills. These important skills serve as the foundation for more complex movements and specialized skills that children need to competently progress in fencing and also take part in other recreational activities and sports. ‘
Kids development involves learning several important skills all while having fun:
- Locomotive skills such as jumping, running, galloping, hopping, leaping and skipping
- Introduction to basic rules and movement skills of fencing
- Hand-eye coordination and hand-feet coordination
- Balancing skills
- The concepts of fair play and respect while learning the sport of fencing
- Encouraged to participate and have fun in a positive and stimulating environment
Learning the Basics (Foil, Epee, Saber)
Fencing kids will start out with learning the fencing basics using the foil, starting with the grip. There are two categories of grips which are used most frequently, Pistol (ergonomic) used for foil and epee and French. There is greater range of motion involved with a Pistol grip, which is why most people choose to use the latter nowadays. You should use the pad of your thumb and side of the tip of your index finger to hold either grip. With French, your other three fingers should wrap around for support, and with Pistol, there are notches that these fingers can rest on.
The defensive elements of fencing basics will include the guard position. Here they will stand with feet shoulder width apart, with their dominant foot pointing straight ahead. The other foot will remain perpendicular, or just a bit angled toward their opponent. With the fencing arm bent, they’ll form a straight line from the tip of their foil to the elbow, aiming at the chest of their opponent. Their torso and back need to remain straight, and they will have their head turned toward their opponent. Their knees will also be bent so their upper body is resting on their hips. This basic position will get them off to a good start in the sport.
The most important element of fencing of all kids will learn is footwork. Good footwork will help you win.
- Advance – The basics of this move are picking up your dominant foot, carrying it one foot length forward and setting it down heel first. Your other foot follows and lands ball first. It is like more of a carry than a push
- Retreat – This is the reverse of the advance. With both moves, be sure to keep your weight evenly distributed to keep your balance, plus keep your feet shoulder’s distance apart. Your head will stay at the same height during all footwork.
- Cross-over – Carry your non-dominant foot from the en-garde position across the dominant foot, putting it down a bit under shoulder length apart in front of the dominant foot. Then carry your dominant foot forward and go back to en-garde. Reverse this to go backwards.
Remember these are the mechanical skills involved to start with fencing basics. A feeling and a sense of when to move and at what distance and direction to move is connected to a higher order of thinking and logic which will complement the locomotive skills later in intermediate level.
At Silversword Fencing, all of these basics will start your young child off in the fun world of fencing, all while teaching them other great skills that will last them a lifetime.