Fencing, the sport of swordsmanship, is steadily making marks in the world of Chicago children's sports. Popular in Europe, where fencing schools have been in existence since at least the 12th century, fencing traces its roots all the way back to ancient Egypt and Greece. It is often referred to as "physical chess" since it requires not only physical agility but also foresight and strategy.
Two Chicago fencing clubs are now offering children's programming focused on this popular Olympic and Paralympic sport.
Windy City Fencing, the largest training academy in Chicago, trains all ages in Epée-where a point is scored when any area of the opponent's body is hit-starting at age 8. Beginner classes, held at the Menomonee Drucker Center in Lincoln Park, are designed as an introduction to the basics of fencing; intermediate and advanced fencers may, with coach approval, join one of the Windy City Fencing teams. Many students have gone on to compete in national fencing tournaments.
Metro Chicago Fencing in suburban Glenview offers both Sabre-where the target includes everything above the waist, except the hands and the back of the head-and Epée fencing instruction from age 4. Private lessons are also available.
Fencers today train with a pointed, light and flexible training "weapon" called a foil or an epée (similar to a sword, minus the sharp point) and wear conductive (lamé) suits that cover the target area. When the tip of the "weapon" comes into contact with the target area of the opponent, a buzzer lets the fencer know he has scored.
Visit the official United States Fencing Web site at usfencing.org for a searchable guide to area fencing clubs and in-depth information on the sport.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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