CCA Previews ’23: Raffles Fencing

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By Seah Jin Kuan (Captain)

Picture this: you’re facing your opponent, waiting for the referee’s call. Your body is coiled like a spring, with every muscle primed and ready to go as soon as the round begins. 

“En garde, prêts, allez!” You’re already exploding into motion as the final word hangs in the air, aiming to capitalize on the quick start to score an early lead. You lunge forward, with instinct guiding your blade as you parry your opponent and strike directly at their now-unguarded chest. Point to you. Beneath your mask, you’re smiling with satisfaction, already mapping out new plans for the next time you cross blades.  

Fencing is pretty self-explanatory. Nonetheless, there are a surprising number of details  that not many people know about. Raffles Fencing consists of three weapon groups: the epee, foil and sabre, each with its own set of rules and blade types. The epee and foil are more similar in that they revolve around scoring points with the tip of the blade, while the sabre extends this to the entirety of the blade as well. The foil and sabre involve specific target groups, with what we call “priority”, which determines which fencer receives the point if a nearly simultaneous pair of hits occur. In addition, the epee, sometimes considered the simplest weapon group, includes  the whole body as a target, which can result in some incredibly amusing foot hits. Of course, we still train together, and sometimes switch weapons to mix things up and fence more people. 

Normally, we train at the Multi-Purpose Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from around 4 to 6.30. However, during competition seasons, we might hold additional training sessions to brush up on our skills and tactics. A usual session lasts about two and a half hours and comprises physical training and warm-ups, some basic bladework or footwork drills, and finally specific sparring drills. All training sessions end with at least twenty to thirty minutes of free fencing, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is not as exhausting as one might think, but it is still definitely intensive both physically and mentally. Fencing is a sport that is half-won before the match even starts after all, and quite a bit of strategy goes into every single point. 

What fencing bouts look like

As for competitions, apart from the annual National School Games (which were regrettably missed during the pandemic), there are a multitude of other opportunities to fence against individuals from across Singapore. Novices is a competition specifically for fencers with less than 3 years of fencing experience in order to provide a platform for new fencers to test out what they have learned in a competitive setting. RI also hosts Raffles Invites, a tournament involving participants from various Singapore fencing clubs and schools, around the second week of December. Other schools like Hwa Chong also host similar competitions, so there will never be a lack of opportunities to fence new people and see where your skill level stands. This gives us plenty of motivation to always get better. 

As for RI-specific highlights, we usually host two fencing camps, one in June and one at the end of the year. While we do call them training camps, they are more focused on bonding and less so on extra training. This year, our first camp  involved a ‘Nerf War’ that spanned the entirety of the Yusof Ishak block. Needless to say, it was amazing! 

Why should you join Fencing? Fencing is an excellent CCA to join, and everyone is incredibly welcoming. Training sessions push us to always do our best, but the main focus of each lesson is to enjoy ourselves while learning something new. More often than not, you can find us cheering on our friends while they fence, or playing frisbee to start off the lesson. If you are looking for a CCA that will motivate you to keep fit while also having a good time, Fencing is the CCA for you. Additionally, there’s no need to worry about prerequisites: while any prior fencing experience is definitely appreciated, as long as you are motivated and ready to do your best, you’ll be fine. 

If you think that Fencing is a good fit for what you’re looking for, do not hesitate to join us. We’re always ready to welcome new members to Raffles Fencing! 

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