Growing up, it would be hard to name a daredevil who did not want to try sword fighting or spend their days playing with sharp objects.
Fencing roots travel back to duels and self-defense, but a modern twist to the popular sport developed with collegiate fencing in 1941.
Compared to other sports, there are not many NCAA fencing teams, but many schools have club teams that participate in nation-wide tournaments, including Texas Tech.
The object of the sport is simple: use your weapon to strike your opponent while avoiding being hit yourself. There are three different weapons that could be used including the epée, foil or sabre.
Sarah Clemens, a senior mechanical engineering major, is the president of the Double T Fencing Club. At Texas Tech, an epée is used in majority of competitions played.
“The full body is a target area,” Clemens says, “from the feet, to the hands to the face. You can hit anywhere on the body and there’s no right of way.”
While there is a team aspect, Clemens said the sport could be viewed on a more individual level.
“You ultimately are responsible for your own progress and you’re responsible for your own learning,” she says. “But it does help to have a team environment. If you don’t have people who are motivated to fence, it’s hard for you to get better because the people around you aren’t getting better.”
Robert Bray, secretary of the Double T Fencing Club, says fencing is more of a mind game and intellectual sport than it is physical.
“You can be fast, you can be strong and you can be smart about how you go about it,” Bray said, “but in the end, it just comes down to knowing who you’re fencing and knowing who you’re up against and what you’re capable of. That’s really what separates this sport from a lot of others. Your mind has to be in it as well as your body.”
Bray said he has learned a great deal about patience and self-awareness through fencing. He said you have to slow down, take a deep breath and really think about what you are doing before you take action. This awareness has helped improve his studies and stress levels, the freshman electrical engineering major added.
Clemens refers to the game as a combination of three things: running a marathon, playing chess and preforming brain surgery.
“You’re running a marathon in your legs and they are constantly moving,” Clemens said, “and you have these very fine movements in the elbow from the wrist, but then you’re playing chess with the other person, and it’s all happening so fast. I think the hardest part is to find that Zen in between all of that.”
Sean Wolfe says the rush he gets when he outsmarts an opponent is the biggest reward.
The club competes in collegiate and non-collegiate tournaments year-round. For the spring semester, they will compete at the Heavy Metal Tournament hosted by Texas A&M Feb. 25, Wang Memorial ROC/RYC in Arlington, Texas, March 25-26 and will host the Texas Tech Open April 1-2 at the Robert H. Ewalt Student Recreation Center.
The club has around 15 to 20 members, depending on the semester, and students are always encouraged to come if they have any interest in participating. Practices are held Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 11 p.m. and on Sunday 3 to 5 p.m in room 116 of the Recreation Center.
“Fencing is definitely something that if you fall in love with it, it could definitely be a life long thing,” Clemens said.