WALLINGFORD – Fencing, an Olympic sport known for its national competitions, is about much more than just defeating the opponent.
The Record-Journal recently met with Kyle Mezzi, owner of Silver City Fencing Club on Quinnipiac Street and head coach of a high school fencing team in Guilford, to talk about the health benefits of fencing and how to compete.
Fencing is the modern equivalent of traditional dueling, according to Mezzi, who competed in the sport through high school and college. Proper footwork is a key component, along with mental strategy.
“It’s really got more in common with boxing,” he said. “There’s a lot of movement and agility required as well as a lot of finesse.”
Participants bend their knees and stay in a near squat position while constantly moving back and forth in short bursts. This strengthens and defines leg muscles, especially calves.
The sport can also increase the heart rate and burn calories. Athletes typically work on lunges and quick movements to prepare for competitions.
“It gets compared to this physical game of chess,” Mezzi said. “You’re trying to think three moves ahead of your opponent.”
The mental exercise is just as beneficial as the physical component, he said.
There are three types of blades; the foil, epee and sabre. Each corresponds to a type of fencing of the same name.
The foil is a rectangular blade. Participants score when the tip lands in the opponent’s torso.
The epee, known as freestyle fencing, is heavier than the foil. Participants score when the blade hits any part of the opponent.
The sabre is similar to the foil. A participant scores when the point or edge of the blade hits from the hips to the head.
The general uniform for fencing is all white and includes pants, a jacket, a lame´ or metallic vest over the jacket, and layers of protective gear, including a helmet.
An electronic vest can also be used to score competitions.
Fencing is one of five sports that have been featured in every edition of the modern Olympic Games, according to USA Fencing.
The USA Fencing athlete handbook states that fencers are classified by letter, with A being the highest and U being the lowest or unclassified. Classifications are determined by points earned during competitions.
Other area clubs that offer fencing include The Cheshire Fencing Club in Cheshire, Farmington Valley Fencing Academy in Bloomfield and Fencers School of Connecticut in Guilford.
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