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What is Fencing?
Fencing can mean different things to different people. To some, it is the modern Olympic sport, to others it is the use of any sword. At the Sacramento Sword School we use the term “fencing” in a broader and more historical perspective to mean “the art of defense.” Although we focus on the sword, we also include other weapons and even grappling in our curriculum.
Throughout history, fencing and other martial arts have been practiced in both martial and sporting forms. As long as the sword had a martial use, this informed the nature of fencing as sport, with both forms sharing the guiding principle “hit your opponent without being hit by him.” With the decline and eventual demise of dueling in the first half of the 20th century, this martial grounding fell by the wayside, with the modern Olympic sport of fencing shifting pretty far from its roots. Fortunately, not all fencing lineages gave up their martial grounding, and those that have kept it are generally referred to today as “classical fencing.”
At the Sacramento Sword School, several of our teachers come from a living tradition of classical fencing descended from the Military Masters Schools of mid to late 19th century Italy. We use this martial grounding in traditional Italian fencing theory and pedagogy to bring older weapons and martial arts back to life. In some cases, such as Italian rapier, this is a very small step. For others, like the Iberian two-handed sword, it takes a lot more work to get to a point where we think the period masters would recognize what we are doing.
At the Sacramento Sword School we practice both martial and sporting forms of swordsmanship, but only ones that are fairly close in nature, which means our material does not extend into the modern Olympic sport. If you are interested in Olympic style fencing, there are several excellent clubs in the area; please see our links page for more information. If you are interested in how to use a sword in the same manner as centuries of fencers whose life and honor depended on it, we are the school for you!
Questions? Please contact us.