Fencing team trains, practices year round

By Alex Edel

Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, boys and girls on the fencing team walk to the what they call the “fencing shack” in order to practice. The fencers then dress in up to four layers of clothing.

There are three divisions of fencing based on the weapon used. Épée is the most basic of the swords with a curved small guard to protect the hand and the opponent can strike anywhere. The sabre has an additional piece of covering which connects the guard to the bottom of the handle and the player must wear a gray mesh shirt called a lamé covering the entire upper half of the body. An opponent can only hit in this gray region or the mask. The last of the weapons, the Foil blade, has a flatter guard and fencers wear a lamé which covers only the torso region.

There are only three or four school competitions a year, which are held on weekends and sometimes last all day. The team’s biggest rival is Chaminade, but they also compete against Victor Valley, Monroe, Brentwood, Polytechnic High, Palmdale High School and other Los Angeles area schools. To train for these competitions, the team stretches, works on footwork, runs, and lunges.

“I enjoy learning new techniques and incorporating them into my bouts,” Foil team captain Jeffrey Dastin ’10 said. “The most important skill, however, is observation. A fencer must watch the slightest movements of his or her opponent and respond immediately. It is a game of feints and surprise attacks, which makes for an exciting sport.”

Most of the people on the team play outside of school at various fencing studios around Los Angeles. The biggest clubs are Beverly Hills Fencing Club, Los Angeles International Fencing Center, and Swords Fencing Studio. Dastin trains at Beverly Hills Fencing Club and also has private lessons with Coach Ted Katzoff.

The people on the team started fencing for various reasons. Sabre fencer Tabitha Yoo ’11 started fencing after watching her brother and his friends play. Dastin started after attending a camp which offered fencing as an activity and started playing at school in tenth grade.

“It was something I had never really heard of until eighth grade. I thought it would be an interesting thing to try. I tried it, and I liked it,” Justin Ho ’12 said.