olympiafencing

So, What Are You Doing for Lunch?

In Adults, Fencing, Fencing Classes on May 9, 2009 at 5:14 am

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St. Louis professionals are forgoing the french fries for fencing.

It’s noontime on a sunny Tuesday in St. Louis. You push your chair back from your desk, and with a slight smile (smirk?), you grab a stack of reports that are ‘must read’ and tell the receptionist you’re headed to lunch. Or so you say. Because in the trunk of your car you’ve secretly stashed your ‘workout clothes’: a pair of knickers, mask and saber. You’re not going out for a burger. You’re heading into battle.

Lunchtime is playtime for a growing number of business professionals who are learning the oldest sport of the modern Olympic Games. It’s all part of the adult beginners’ fencing classes at Olympia Fencing Academy, at I-170 and Olive in St. Louis. Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 12:55 pm, doctors, lawyers, C-level executives–you name it–put on their masks and pick up their weapons. Think of it as a new kind of self-therapy for The Great Recession.

“I think a lot more people have tried fencing than they’ve realized. If you’ve ever tried to hit someone with an object that you weren’t throwing, you were basically fencing,” jokes Tim Morehouse, a member of the U.S. Olympic saber team that brought home the silver medal in Beijing last summer. “And that’s what fencing is: You’re trying to hit someone with an object that you’re holding that’s an extension of your body.” By the way, that’s Tim in the photo above. I don’t think he’s hungry (for lunch).

Ask anyone who’s tried it, and fencing is quite a workout. But you do more than work up a sweat: According to one veteran fencer, “Fencing is such a sport of skill, physicality and intellect… nothing seems to combine so many diverse elements. It’s a beautiful sport. There is always something more to learn.” In fact, many fencers practice the sport for decades (try that with baseball or football). It truly is a sport for all ages.

Olympia Fencing Academy holds a variety of fencing classes and ‘open fencing’ for adults of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, at various times throughout the day and evening. For a list of current adult classes, please click here: https://event-manager.compete-at.com/Manager/event/details.do?eid=1223 Or, for more information, call 314-993-9700 or visit www.olympiafencing.com.

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How to Play Chess (with a weapon).

In Fencing, Fencing Classes, Kids, Parenting on April 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

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Sometimes, chess players fight for real. That’s where fencing comes in.

Ask anyone who loves chess, and you’ll hear how it’s all about the strategy. The right-angle thoughts. And most of all, looking your opponent dead in the eye–smile–and finish him off with a single word.

Checkmate.

Chess has a lot in common with another ancient pursuit. We’re talking, of course, about fencing. What makes chess and fencing so much alike that the latter is often referred to as ‘physical chess’?

Anyone can play. You don’t have to be a classic American ‘jock’ to be a fencer. In fact, you don’t even have to like other sports all that much. To be fair, a few serious jock schools such as Ohio State have great fencing programs. But so does Columbia (which isn’t exactly known for its football team).

Gray matter, matters. Fencers tend to make pretty good grades in school, especially in math and science. They’re often detail-oriented and like debating ideas (or just flat out arguing, like any respectable Type-A would). At the same time, fencers are highly imaginative: It’s not a big leap from moving a knight on a chess board to wielding a saber in your own hand.

It’s not all about winning. Medals are great, but the values that fencers learn are just as important. Respect, camaraderie–and yes, even chivalry. Name another contest where you’re expected to pick up your opponent’s weapon and hand it to him, if he happens to drop it and is suddenly vulnerable to your attack.

Ready for a ‘real’ fight? Join us for Physical Chess Camp throughout June. We’ll combine the game of chess, the sport of fencing–and toss in a few math challenges for good measure. It’s a great way for kids to spend a week of summer vacation. And to see if ‘physical chess’ is the sport they’ve always wanted, but perhaps didn’t know existed. Until now, of course.

For more information or to register for Physical Chess Camp, please visit us at www.olympiafencing.com or call 314-993-9700. Classes fill up fast, so please get in touch, while you’re thinking about it.

Fencing: The ‘Other’ Team Sport?

In Fencing, Fencing Classes, Kids, Parenting on April 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

tournament20smiles2Imagine you’re a young student attending the first-ever ‘team sports fair’ at your school. You walk into the gym and there are five ‘booths’ in front of you, each one manned by a head coach eager to get your attention and size you up for the team. So, what are the teams? Why, the usual suspects of course: football, baseball, basketball, soccer and–what’s this?–fencing?  What’s Darth Vader and Jack Sparrow doing in my gym?

Welcome to fencing, the ‘other’ team sport. Misunderstood by most Americans. And irresistable to most kids who give it a try. As one of our 12-year-old fencers says, “It’s sports with a weapon. Who wouldn’t want to poke people and get away with it?” By the way, this fencer is ranked one of the best in the nation, for his age group. So what does he know that most student athletes do not?

Fencing is ‘physical chess,’ the perfect blend of physical and mental challenge. You stand toe to toe with your opponent–weapon in hand–with nowhere to run. And only one goal on your mind: to hit your opponent before he hits you. Sure, you have to be in extraordinarily good physical condition to succeed. But you literally have to think on your feet as well. Because above all, fencing is a game of outwitting your opponent, before he returns the favor. Fencers may be on a team, but when you’re on the strip ready to do battle, you’re on your own. Win or lose, it’s all up to you. For many student athletes, that’s the biggest rush of all.

So what makes a good fencer? Most fencers tend to think for themselves–on the strip and in life. They may play traditional team sports at school–often because their buddies do or their school requires it. But fencers prefer one-on-one competition above all else. Make no mistake: fencers are not loners. You’ll find few bonds stronger than the members of a fencing team rallying together to support each other, as well as the team overall. Rather, these kids just refuse to run with the herd. They’d much rather lead it. They’re not afraid to trust their own judgment and make tough decisions. On the strip, their very ‘lives’ depend on it.

Fencing isn’t big in St. Louis, yet. But we built Olympia Fencing Academy to crank up the momentum. Many of our team members are ranked nationally. All of them are good friends, and there’s always room for one more. If you know a student (or for that matter, an adult) who might like to try fencing, please get in touch with us at info@olympiafencing.com, call 314-993-9700 or visit www.olympiafencing.com.

In our next post, we’ll tell you about one 11-year-old who didn’t think he was much of an athlete, until he tried fencing. Today, he’s one of the most successful competitors in the country. (And yes, he’s on our team!)