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Is Fencing Safe?

Fencing is a very safe and lifelong sport.  Competitive age brackets for fencers start as young as 10 and under and continue up through the veteran age brackets of 70+.  It is an extraordinarily safe sport considering its heritage and combative nature.  As with any sport or physical activity there is always a risk of injury.  However, common sense precautions and realistic training goals can significantly reduce the possibilities of sustaining an injury. 


The most common injuries are similar to those of other sports; sprains, strains and pulled muscles.  Approximately 50% of all injuries happen in the legs, with the ankles and knees being the predominant locations.  Studies have shown that personal factors are responsible for nearly half of the injuries, with the main causes being inadequate warm-up, poor fencing technique, and fatigue.


If you are new to fencing, the first question you’ll likely ask is; "Are the weapons real?” Which is quickly followed up with; “Are they sharp?"  The short answers are:  yes, they are real; no, they are not sharp.  


In foil and epee, the ends are blunted and covered by either a rubber tip or a flat metal "button" with a small spring. In saber, the end of the blade is looped over on itself and the edges are not sharp.  Proper protective gear significantly reduces any potential risk.  Centuries of fencing practice has led us to state-of-the-art protective equipment specifically designed for fencing and manufactured to rigorous standards.  Today, the best fencing equipment is often made with puncture-resistant fabrics such as "bullet-proof" Kevlar.


Does it hurt?


Not if done properly.  Even if executed with appreciable energy, a good, clean fencing attack hurts no more than a tap on the shoulder.  The force of the blow is normally absorbed by the flexibility of the blade.  Overly aggressive fencers can occasionally deliver somewhat harder touches, as such, the possibility of minor bruising may occur.  The most painful blows tend to come from inexperienced fencers who have not yet acquired the feel of the weapon.


While fencing is considered a “combat” sport, it does not require direct contact between competitors.  In fact, there are specific rules that prohibit body contact and violent or vindictive actions.  Compare this to football and hockey where the players are constantly in contact with each other and the other “traditional” sports (basketball, soccer, baseball) where there is frequent contact between the players or the floor/ground as they attempt to score or keep from being scored upon. 


In fencing, while there is the occasional bruise, pulled muscle, or sprain, serious injuries such as broken bones and concussions are uncommon.  Additionally, fencers only move forward and backward, limiting injuries to the knees and ankles which are common in the more traditional sports where athletes consistently change directions.


From youth, to teens, to seniors, men and women across the country are learning to fence.  It's a great way to get and to stay in shape.  Anyone can learn to fence safely while having a great workout and lots of fun.  Following common-sense safety rules and guidelines help make fencing a safe and enjoyable sport for all, regardless of age.

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