Hey Ford,

Yeah, I've been really impressed with fencing since I started. I had heard it dismissed as being similar to Karate point sparring, but the more I get into, the more I disagree with that. Of course, because of the rules, it's not exactly realistic sword fighting, but I think it builds a lot of martially relevant skills. Although you can occasionally score a point with a cheap, martially unrealistic technique, IMO the rules and conventions of fencing really encourage and reward clean, fast, accurate and powerful techniques and form. With the protective equipment and flexible blades, there's no holding back in regards to distance, timing and power like there is in point sparring----what really holds you back from swinging as hard as you can all the time is the reality that too much power is martially ineffective, as it's much harder to recover when that attack is successfully parried or blocked. The best thing about fencing, though, is that it's just SOOOOO much fun to fight full speed with metal blades!

The class I take is 2 hours--the first half hour is footwork/conditioning, the second half hour is 2-person drills, and then the last hour is just free fencing. When I started with the beginners class, they told me it would probably take about 4 or 5 months before things started to make sense, and you would be able to start free fencing, and I found that to be a pretty accurate time frame. If you're interested, the 3MB club is Thursday nights from 7-9 at the Waring School in North Beverly--and there's a lot of club equipment for beginners. Like I said, the up side is that the instruction is really top-notch, the down side is that there's a lot more kids than adults right now. Or you might also consider the Tanner City Fencing club that's right in Peabody---I'm not sure of the details but you can probably do a web search and find some info. I think my club is an offshoot of that one, so a lot of the people know each other. I think that club has more adults, and they focus more on saber, whereas my club is more for foil and epee, but that can change at times.

Let me know if you want any more info!