Fencing for Children and Youth

    When selecting a fencing club for your child there are several important things to look for. there are many fencing programs offered in and around Greater Vancouver through local community centers, schools, universities and private clubs. Each one of these facilities differ in terms of hours of operation, location, quality of supplied equipment (if any supplied at all), cost and most important of all, quality of instruction. The following are a list of questions the parent should consider when choosing a fencing club for their child.

Q.1    What is the background of the fencing Master? What are his qualifications and what method of fencing does he teach ?

Fencing is a sport rooted in history and tradition, traditions that are maintained to enhance not only the grace of the sport but also the safety of the participants. A fencing master trained in the traditional French method will promote such aspects of the sport, while educating his students on the history behind such traditions. A good fencing master deserves the respect and attention of his students but need not be a strict disciplinarian to achieve this. The parent should observe how the Master interacts with his students and should be comfortable leaving their children in his charge. The parent(s) should also consider the qualification and experience of the Master, not only in terms of fencing qualifications but also coaching and educational qualifications. A good coach should inspire his students to advance their skills, using a combination of discipline, temered with compassion and above all, humour.

Q.2    What is the class size?

Because the fencing student will benefit most from the individual attention of the instructor(s), class sizes should be small (10 to 18 students) so both student and Master can get to know each other.

Q.3    What is the atmosphere of the club like?

The parent should make an appointment to view the club, meet the Master and some of the regular members. They should ensure the atmosphere is safe and respectful and the club provides quality education in a secure, positive environment.

Q.4    What is the condition of the equipment?

Because fencing is a contact sport and there is an element of risk to the participants, the parent should ensure that the equipment is clean and well maintained and that there is enough protective equipment for each student at a beginner level. As the student progresses and the level of competitiveness increases, all clubs require that personal equipment is acquired and brought to each lesson/club night.

    The Vancouver Modern and Theatrical fencing club meets all of these requirements. Instruction is provided by Maitre Bac Tau, a Master trained in the traditional French method and a man who has many years of coaching experience at the international and Olympic levels of the sport. While the club membership ranges in age from around 10 years old to one member in his seventies(!), beginner classes cater largely to children and youth and all members fence according to the age and skill of their opponents. The VMTFC is a great location for yourchild to learn to fence, to develop agility and co-ordination and to meet new friends.

Dr. Pat Finnigan
Vancouver Modern and Theatrical Fencing Club.