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  • Edinburgh Fencing Club is the best in Scotland, so they say
  • All are welcome and all provide diversity of experience that we all relish

    • by Andrew HN Gray

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      If you are a fencer, I probably don’t need to explain how the sport draws people into a social circle as much as it draws them into a sport. There is something about the way that fencers stand and watch their fellow club members fight it out on the piste and chat to each other ‘of shoes, and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings’ that makes it a first-rate way of making friends. Most of my friends are people I met through fencing.

      Fencing is a sport which is occasionally shown on British TV. Usually, it features in a programme like ‘The Avengers’ from the 1960s, or ‘Pride & Prejudice’ in the 1990s with Colin Firth practising with a fencing master. It looks very good, but rarely resembles anything approaching the real sport. Sometimes, it can be very exciting, as in the recent James Bond film, when it all gets rather out of hand, with real swords and the chance of some blood-letting. Real fencing clubs do not operate in that theatrical style. If anyone even thought about trying to fence without a mask, for instance, they would be thrown out.

      Edinburgh Fencing Club is the best in

      Scotland, so they say. We meet on weekday evenings at St Thomas of Aquins School close to the former Royal Infirmary. This splendid new building was constructed only a few years ago and it is well looked-after. We use both gyms for lessons, classes and fencing. Some, like me, come for the fencing. Others come for training, footwork and fencing. You can fence all three weapons – foil, epee and sabre. We regularly entertain visitors from other clubs and other countries. It is perfectly normal to have an Austrian, or a German, a visiting American, or an Aussie. All are welcome and all provide diversity of experience that we all relish.

      On an average evening, you could expect to turn up in the larger gym (probably with ten pistes set up on its well-sprung, non-slippy wooden floor) while other lessons are being given in the smaller gym. Three or four lessons will be taking place at the near end of the gym while the fighters are giving it everything further down the hall. A sound of feet slapping down in a lunge, or the clash of blades with the occasional cry of ,’Elah!’ will ring over the heads of ...

      • the fencers awaiting their turn. Greetings are shouted across the room and jovial insults are bandied about. Men and women of all ages are to be found, blades searching each other out, lightning moves being parried and some skilful moves may be seen as fencers advance and retire, seeking to land a hit on their opponent.

        One would think that a sport that is inately violent, being based on the old gentlemanly skill of defending yourself to the death, if necessary, would draw in the least pleasant members of society. Thugs and oafs might seem to be the ideal sort of characters that you would find in a fencing salle. In fact, it is anything but the case. Invariably, fencers are pleasant people. They get cross with themselves if they lose, but it is taken in good part. They are mostly fairly normal people. They don’t tend to be fitness fanatics. They like the odd drink. They are probably rather fitter than most, simply because of the balletic nature of their sport. Equally, and I say this with all due modesty, fencers tend to be rather bright. I remember at one club, I turned to a girl I

        was chatting to and said of another fencer, “Do you know, Fred has a PhD? That must the fourth PhD I’ve met in this club so far.” “No.” She said. “The fifth. You forgot about me!”

        Now, I am the Old Man of the Club. I won’t say by how much, but I still enjoy beating the Young ‘Uns on odd occasions. If you have had extended periods of absence from the sport, as I have, you find that your joints aren’t shot to pieces and you can still dance the occasional jig and hit people when they least expect it. It’s great fun, but more so when you realise that the Club operates in a wholly professional way. It’s a pleasure to be there. The atmosphere is great, the fencing is excellent and all the equipment you could hope for is there. If you’re in Edinburgh and want to come along, contact Paul or Bob at Allstar Uhlmann in Wallyford. They handle all the fencing equipment sales in Eastern Scotland and they run the Club too. They can give you al, the up-to-date details of which evenings are best for you. Come along. You’ll be most welcome!

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in January, 2010. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 611101948581231/k2311a0111/1.11.10
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