By Jewelle Yeo (18S06E), Girls’ Captain and Brandon Teh (18S02A), Boys Captain
“The true measure of a person is who they are with sword in hand…”
— Aldo Nadi
Often referred to as “physical chess”, fencing is a discipline which requires a combination of physical and mental strength to excel. In the space of a 14m by 1.5m strip and a maximum time of 9 minutes, the fencer must not only have the stamina and skill to outlast and outmanoeuvre the opponent, but also a clear mind to anticipate and form plans to counter the opponent’s movements.
Most will never have the opportunity to pick up this relatively unique sport, but RI is one of the few JCs to offer it as a CCA. Trainings are conducted by Coaches Henry, Wei Wen, Oleg, and Igor. A balance is maintained between drills, learning of new tactics, and actual sparring bouts. Fencers devote roughly the first hour of training to perfecting the basic footwork, before splitting into their respective weapon groups – épée, foil or sabre – to refine their bladework and put newly-learnt skills into practice.
Although fencing is an individual sport, there are opportunities for fencers to bond over post-training dinners, outings, and the occasional game of captain’s ball that we play in place of our usual warm-up. Though we may fence each other in competitions, we are one team, bound together by our passion for fencing and a shared experience of its joy.
Fencing actually has 3 different weapon groups, not just one. They are foil, sabre and épée, each with its own unique sets of rules and characterized by the visually different weapons and target areas. I would love to share about all the rules and technicalities of each weapon group, but we could be here all day.
Our fencers typically have the chance to participate in four to five competitions a year, even if they are completely inexperienced, These include Novices, Junior Championships and Invites hosted by different schools such as NUS, Hwa Chong or even our own school, Raffles! (more details on that later) While we have many competitions besides the usual Interschools, we need just as much training, which involves endless footwork drills which has the pleasant effect of making you unable to feel your legs afterwards, followed by sparring which essentially is a sauna, except the sauna is 4 layers of thick protective clothing, and instead of sitting down you’re moving incredibly actively, and also you’re holding a pointy metal stick – exactly, basically a sauna.
Trainings aside, Raffles Fencing has another important event that is held every year – our very own competition, completely organized by the CCA, Raffles Invites! It’s quite the experience to be a part of the organizing team of a competition, which i think no other CCA has the opportunity to do. From drafting and designing our brochure, tabulating entries, moving 500kg of metal pistes (flooring for fencing on) and dealing with faulty equipment, it definitely was quite the experience, and on that i hope you will share.
Unfortunately, any more details are kept strictly confidential, and you’ll either have to interrogate one of our members or join us to find out more!