Student Finds Talent For Fencing

By Claire Z., Joyce G., Shiloh N.

Emily Q. took up fencing in 2019, and despite often winning first prize in her age level (12 and under), she’s pretty modest about her achievements.

“I didn’t really discover I had a talent for it since I don’t have a talent for it,” Emily explained in response to our questions. “It’s mainly hard work and practice.”

She enjoys fencing because it’s like playing any gameā€”it relieves stress, and it feels great to win. She has been to various local tournaments, usually placing 1st or 2nd. Though when she competes in the 14 and under age group, she’s more often in 3rd to 5th place.

The tournaments keep Emily motivated, but she also enjoys traveling to the events. However, she hasn’t gone very far from the DC area.

According to Emily, there are three types of fencing: Epee, foil, and saber, named for the kind of sword used.

“Foil is, I guess you could say, fast, and there are only certain parts that you can hit with your sword,” explained Emily. “For saber, you basically, like, smack people [with the side of the sword], and it’s extremely fast. Epee, on the other hand, is mainly patience and strategy.”

Emily does Epee. The Epee is the heaviest and largest of the three weapons used in fencing, and like foil, only the point of the weapons is used for attacking. However, there are no right-of-way rules for attacks in Epee, unlike foil and saber. That means that points can be scored by touching any part of the opponent’s body, as opposed to strictly the torso.

Emily describes fencing as physical chess because you use the same actions regardless of your skill level.

“When you’re a beginner versus when you’re really good, like a master, you still use the same pieces, except you have a strategy, and you use it in different ways,” she explained.

When playing strong players, Emily has noticed that their actions are not more complicated, but they are fast and strategic.

“When you’re a beginner versus when you’re really good, like a master, you still use the same pieces, except you have a strategy and you use it in different ways,” said Emily. “If you do something fancy or really hard for someone else to do, that doesn’t make you good; it doesn’t [mean] you’ll do good.”

Emily plans to continue fencing in the future as well. She hopes to qualify for the Junior Olympics and fence during college since some colleges have fencing teams.