Tuesday, March 30, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 119

Sports Opinion

About the Cougar

Fencing at UH becomes popular in short period of time

By Cristofer Pereyra
Daily Cougar Staff

Are you ready for a duel? You finally got that 15-page paper back and your grade does not exactly make you feel like the next Hemingway. 

With the semester halfway through, do you think you could use a stress reliever? If this is the case, maybe it is time for you to grab 17 ounces of steel and say "on-guard."

 Yes, I am talking about fencing. The adrenaline-charged combat sport made the episodes of Disney's Zorro a popular show back in its day. But just what is fencing, and how can you get involved in it? 

The history of fencing can be traced back to the 16th century. Swords had always been the choice weapons of European duels and tournaments. However, even though many practiced it, fencing was not a sport yet. This was the real thing. People engaged in duels to defend their honor and sometimes their lives. 

Later, in the 19th century, dueling was prohibited and fencing as an art was taught. The most outstanding forms of fencing were developed in France. As a result, most of today's vocabulary for traditional fencing is composed of French words. The French fencing style has also set the standard for most present-day competitions.

Fencing is practiced with three different weapons. These are the foil, the épée and the saber. The three are made of tempered steel and have a maximum blade length of 35 inches. The main difference between these weapons follows in the way they are used, which basically varies with their target area. 

The foil was formerly used as a practice weapon; it is the basic one. The points or touches are scored by thrusting the adversary with the blunted point. Every fencer must begin training with the foil, for which the target is an imaginary vest in the torso area.

The second weapon is the épée, which is also a thrusting weapon. Its hand guard is larger than that of the foil for wrist protection, due to the fact that the épée's target area is the whole body. 

Then, there is the saber. This particular weapon was derived from those used by cavalrymen. The saber has a different hand guard; it is scoop-shaped and better protects the hand. For this weapon, the target area includes everything above an imaginary line about the hips. With a saber, you can score either by thrusting or slash-cutting with the blade's edge.

So how does that sound? You think you can handle it? Well, check this out. UH has a fencing club. Yes, it is the UH Fencing Club, and it has been around for a couple of years now. 

This club includes the UH Fencing Team, which frequents competitions. The team beat Texas A&M in February at the Southwest Intercollegiate Fencing Association tournament, and placed second behind UT at the SWIFA. 

The SWIFA Collegiate Championship will be held April 3 and 4, and the UH team will be there. 

The club, however, is relatively new, and it needs more potential team members. This is where you come in. Most of the fencers in the team have only a couple of semesters of experience, but they have already gone to many competitions.

If you are interested in the UH fencing team, come by room 223 in Melcher gymnasium at 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. You just may be ready to say "on-guard!"

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