About Fencing

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Kingston Fencing Club, founded in 1970, is based in New Malden near Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey. UK

Get Inspired – Try the Olympic Sport of Fencing

Fencing is a varied and exciting combat sport. It promotes competition, skill, speed, agility and fitness. Because the sport has a large element of skill your ability in the sport is not entirely down to your speed and fitness. Therefore it is suitable for all ages, young and old, and all levels of fitness. This makes it a sport for everyone so come and give it a try.

Kingston Fencing Club

The club was founded in 1970 and has been in the Kingston area since that time. Our venue is Coombe Boys school sports hall in New Malden, Surrey near Kingston-upon-Thames. It is a very friendly club with a mixture of all age ranges and skill levels from beginners all the way up to some of the top fencers in the country.

Children & adults, beginners & experienced fencers are all welcome. We fence with all 3 weapons: foil, epee & sabre, and we meet Monday and Tuesday nights, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm, all year round.

The club runs courses for adult and junior beginners and also taster sessions for groups. For more information see the courses section.

If you want to see some fencing in action go to our videos section where you can see some introduction videos and some videos of coaching at the club with our experienced coaching team.

London Thames Fencing Club

In November 2022 London Thames Fencing club became part of Kingston Fencing Club and we have agreed to work together for the betterment and development of fencing in the region. London Thames Fencing Club (LTFC) has a long history and is the oldest club in the country, which was founded as the London Fencing Club in 1848. See this article about LTFC on the Leon Paul blog: FENCING HISTORY | FENCING IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

History of the Sport

Modern fencing dates from the late 15th century when civilians began carrying swords for the first time. Their weapon of choice was the rapier, which was essentially a thrusting rather than a cutting sword, something that could be used to settle matters of honour relatively quickly.  It was introduced in Spain and then Italy before spreading across the rest of Europe. But during the first half of the 17th-century fashions changed and the long cumbersome rapier gradually became obsolete.

By the mid-17th century, the rapier had been superseded in France by the lighter and more manoeuvrable small sword. This was a highly dangerous weapon and even practice versions with buttoned tips could cause serious accidents to the face in the days before masks. What was needed was a way of demonstrating the skills of swordplay in relative safety, and so the flexible foil with conventions governing its use emerged. This new sporting weapon could be manipulated with great precision. Rules restricted the valid target to an area of the body between neck and waist and established ‘right of way’, whereby the attacker’s blade had to be parried before the defender could make a riposte or launch his own attack.

Regency fencing bout drawn by George Cruickshank for Pierce Egan’s Life in London, 1821, show fencers closely surrounded by spectators

For some 200 years, fencing masters focussed on teaching the genteel art of foil fencing, a stimulating academic exercise that soon became an essential part of a gentleman’s education, along with dancing and music. Those pupils called upon to fight a duel would be briefly prepared for real combat by learning the techniques of small swordplay where the whole body was the target and there was no ‘right of way’.

In the second half of the 18th century, the wire mask was invented. This revolutionised foil technique, allowing the instant parry-riposte and making fencing much more mobile. Although experiments with various electrical systems took place from the late 19th century, it was not until 1955 that the foil events at the world championships were fenced electric for the first time.

Fencing at the Olympics

Fencing was on the programme of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens in 1896, and has been on the programme ever since. The different types of weapon used by men are the foil (since 1896), the sabre (since 1896) and the épée (since 1900). Women competed for the first time at the Games of the VIII Olympiad in Paris in 1924. The foil was the only weapon used by women until the 1996 Games in Atlanta, which saw the introduction of the women’s épée. The women’s sabre featured on the programme for the first time at the Games in Athens in 2004.