FENCING has always held the interest of Annie Foo and her friend Janice Kok and that has led them to a successful career in the sport, having a combined experience of more than 30 years.
Their passion for the sport has led to the setting up of the Swashbucklers Fencing Club which aims to promote fencing at all levels; regardless of age and social status.
“Making the sport accessible was the goal of the club, but people still have this perception that fencing is an expensive sport and meant for the elite only,” said Foo.
“We want the sport to be more accessible to the public and not focus only on the competitive aspects.”
Describing the sport as a live-action chess game that involves tactics and thinking ahead, Foo said the best part about the sport is that it trains the practitioner to adapt to situations, trains their coordination, tactical analysis and discipline.
While the thrusts and feints may seem dangerous, Foo assured that fencing is a safe sport as there are rules and regulations to ensure the safety of the fencers. Protective gear including masks, chest guards and gloves are used in fencing.
“Electronic scoring apparatus is used to register hits in a fencing bout. This device will show whether you score a hit on your opponent,” said Foo.
“You hardly get any injuries from the sport. The protective gear is properly tested by the manufacturers and the weapons (foil, epee or sabre) are not sharp swords.”
Anyone can join the sport, be they young or old. The cost to learn fencing is affordable and the equipment lasts a long time.
The starter kit costs RM365 and includes a mask, a glove, a weapon and a fencing bag. Fencers can get their fencing uniforms at a later stage. The total cost for getting the starter kit and the attire will cost less than RM660.
Mohd Iqbal Abdul Rahman, 30, who has been training in the sport for the last five months, believes the cost to be on par with any other exercise programme out there.
“I was looking for an exercise that wasn’t boring,” said Mohd Iqbal.
“That’s when I found out about the classes through the Internet.”
Although the initial classes were a challenge, Mohd Iqbal said it was just a matter of perseverance and practise.
“Once you get used to it, the sport is quite enjoyable and you get to workout at the same time,” said Mohd Iqbal, who enjoys the sport for honing his skill, agility and ability to make split second decisions.
While Foo and Kok concentrate on making the sport accessible to more people, they still believe that a certain level of competitiveness is required and regularly organise competitive sessions between their students to test their skills and reflexes.
“It is the only way of putting the skills they have learnt to the test,” said Foo, stressing the excitement of challenging an opponent and not the actual winning or losing that was the compelling part of the competitive sessions.
Both the coaches are ex-internationals; they were coaching the Selangor state team and also were attached to the National Sports Council programme.
Their students have been top national fencers in epee and sabre categories. These fencers have won many medals at international, national and state level competitions.
The fencers did particularly well in the 2006 Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA) where fencers under Foo and Kok took home 4 golds, 2 silvers and 3 bronzes out of the overall 4-2-6 medals won by the Selangor Team.
For more information on the club, visit www.fencing4all.com or call 016-682 0870 or 016-288 2124.