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Representatives from the Candlewood Fencing Center of Danbury demonstrated the basics of fencing to seven children, aged 5 through 12, and their parents in the meeting room at the C.H. Booth Library on the afternoon of July 28.
Matthew Laudicina, a saber fencing coach at the Candlewood Fencing Center, led the demonstration. Mr Laudicina has been fencing for 17 years, and fenced at Sacred Heart University.
“There’s something that brings you into fencing. I was really interested in individual sports. When I broke my arm wrestling, I joined fencing,” said Mr Laudicina.
Assistant Coach Alexander Harwood, who specializes in foil fencing, said he was inspired to join fencing because he was interested in swords and medieval times when he was young. Mr Harwood also fenced at Sacred Heart University, and graduated in 2016. Elliot Siegel, a student at the fencing center, said he has been fencing for four years. Mr Laudicina pointed out that Elliot tied for third place overall in the USA Summer Nationals Division III Men’s Foil in July.
Mr Laudicina showed the foil sword to the attendees. He explained that to score a point, fencers must hit their opponent on the torso with the tip of the sword. In saber fencing, he said, fencers can also hit their opponents with the side of the sword. In épée fencing, the fencer’s whole body serves as a target.
“Back in the day, foil was your training weapon because it is safer,” Mr Laudicina said.
Mr Laudicina explained the positions of en garde, advance, retreat, and lunge to the children. He also had them copy and practice the positions. Mr Harwood and Elliot helped the attendees with their form.
Mr Harwood and Elliot then got dressed in their fencing gear, while Mr Laudicina explained each item they donned. They wore knickers on their legs, a protective jacket that covered their dominant arm, a metal jacket that covered their torso called the lamé, a mask, a glove on their dominant hand, and a body cord that connected the metal jacket to the electronic scoreboard.
The two athletes then fenced a few rounds. Mr Laudicina explained that in order to score a point, fencers must hit their opponent on the torso while advancing toward the other player. A colored light shows up on the scoreboard when the fencers hit their opponent on the torso, and a white “X” lights up when they hit the other player off-target.
Then each child had the opportunity to hold the foil sword.
Finally, the attendees played a game Mr Laudicina called Burnout, where they practiced fencing by hitting each other with gloves instead of swords.