As students are rolling into the new school year, many are trying to find new clubs to join. Last week’s Student Activities Fair showcased the diverse range of clubs open to students at Emory this year. One of the clubs represented at the fair was Emory’s Fencing Club.

Fifty people signed up to join the club this year, although the vast majority of them did not have any previous experience with the sport. According to College senior and Co-President of the Fencing Club Mike Xiao, fencing is one of the more relaxed sports offered at Emory, and centers on having fun and meeting new people who share the interest.

However, Xiao said the club is aiming “to get more serious this year.

Xiao took an Emory introductory course to fencing last semester and has been trying to become more competitive at it ever since — he will be starting lessons at a club near Emory next week. The Emory Fencing Club will also be attending a small tournament at the University of Georgia (UGA) on Sunday, Sept. 13. The event is a casual meet-and-greet team competition.

Currently, the Fencing Club meets three times a week for two hours at the Woodruff PE Center (WoodPEC). The first practice will be on Thursday, Sept. 10., and students of all experience levels are welcome. Since everyone fences differently, players learn from each other and benefit from a bigger team.

“For those who have never fenced before, we start teaching from the very basics of footwork and blade work,” College junior and Co-President of the  Fencing Club Karyn Ding said.

According to Ding, who has been practicing fencing for six years, there are three types of fencing: foil, sabre and épée, all of which use a different blade and target area. Players wear jackets, masks and gloves for protection. They choose their strategies depending on the characteristics of their opponent: left- or right-handedness, height, strong offense or defense and so on. Fencing is about outplaying the opponent, not just physically, but mentally.

“My high school didn’t have any sports, so I had to find something that fit my schedule,” Ding said. “I thought fencing looked pretty cool in “The Princess Bride” and “Parent Trap,” so I tried it out and ended up loving it.”

Xiao also spoke of fencing passionately, recommending the late Italian fencer Aldo Nadi’s treatise on fencing as well as his autobiography.
“The best part about being in the Fencing Club is definitely the people you get to meet,” Ding said. “Plus, fencing is just a lot of fun.”