Reporter: Kyle Carney
Durham College’s north Oshawa campus hosted the Ontario provincial fencing championships from March 28 to 30.
The event welcomed fencers of all ages and weapon types for the entire weekend at the Campus Health and Wellness Centre, and provided free admission for spectators.
Although the sport is in the Olympic category, the community is still small and fencing appears to be confusing and niche to the general public.
There were fencers and fans from across Ontario, fencers from other provinces came to witness the championship of the sport they love.
Celeste Suart is an 18 year-old student from McMaster University and a secretariat trainee at the event.
“Once you’re a fencer, you’re never not a fencer,” she said. Suart has been fencing for seven years.
“Once you try it, it’s wonderful,” Suart said. “Everything came together once I started fencing.”
due to the small community, fencers travel to and from faraway locations for the sport. For example, the only fencing club in Durham Region is in Ajax, and they do not use or teach how to use sabres.
Marc-André LeBlanc, a 27-year-old fencer, has traveled from great distances for the passion and love of the sport. He started fencing 14 years ago, when he found passion for the sport in his home province of New Brunswick.
LeBlanc moved to Ontario for fencing.
“I was going to do school in Moncton but I was approached by a provincial (fencing) coach who told me ‘I know some people in Ottawa that can help you out’ so I took the chance to move out to Ottawa,” he said.
“Fencing is pretty much my entire life,” said LeBlanc. “I’m a nation-teamed fencer so most of my time is either spent training, competing, coaching, or studying.” When he has the time to watch videos, it’s usually fencing videos. LeBlanc said only recently have events, such as the championships, been using a video camera for video refereeing.
“This kind of presentation isn’t something we would’ve had 10 years ago,” LeBlanc said.
The barrier of entry and interest into fencing may lie in the fact that fencing has so many rules and weapons.
Suart explained the fencing weapons.
Foil and épée swords require a button (located at the tip of the sword) to be pressed against the opponent, which means mostly stabbing motions.
Sabre simply scores by contact, which means sabre contains slashing motions and is faster overall. Sabre and foil fencing uses the right of way or priority rule, which means only the attacker gains the point.
Fencers are also identified by the clothing they wear.
Épée fencers wear all white clothing because they can score a point off of the opponent any where on their body.
Foil fencers wear equipment with a grey vest, as scoring can only be made on the torso.
Sabre equipment features a completely grey top as scoring can be made anywhere on the upper body except the hands.
LeBlanc offered a final piece of advice.
“Give it a shot, just see if you can try it… anybody can fence, and it’s a fun and physical sport.”