What is your background in the sport?
“I started fencing 20 years ago at the age of 10. I worked to reach the highest level I possibly could in fencing and then decided to start up my own club and it has evolved since then.”
What is Fencing?
“There are three different weapons used in fencing – foil, epee and sabre. They have three different conventions because they have different historical roots. For example, the sabre is a cavalry weapon that was used in the army when going in to battle on horseback. That’s the sword the army used to use. Due to that convention, where soldiers would have to hit with the side of the blade, the aim of fencing in the modern age is to hit your opponent anywhere above the waist with any part of the blade. It is the person first to strike or attack the other that scores the point. In all three weapon classes, the aim is to get to 5 points if it is a group stage fight or 15 points in a knockout fight.”
What classes do Marshall Fencing Club have on offer?
“We train four times a week. Under 13’s can train every night of the week costing £6 per session for £35 per month. For adults, they can train up to four times a week at £11 per session or £50 per month. Class sizes vary from night to night as some people come most nights and others come once a week. However, we have a membership base of 150 people with roughly a 50/50 split of men and women. Nationally, on average there are more men that fence than women but we have an even split of men and women. Because of this, our women’s teams tend to be quite good. We have more British and English female champions than we do male champions.”
What motivates you to do the sessions?
“The demand. There was nobody who taught fencing professionally in the North West or even going out to schools and delivering fencing as a fully-fledged sport. It was always an amateur sport that happens in an evening in a sports hall and no one actually took it seriously. There was a serious lack in Manchester especially so I decided to set up a fencing club that was able to train three of four times a week, which was unheard of in fencing. Once we reached a good level of fencing and built up enough members, we set up the Manchester Fencing Centre, which is a full time training venue.”
Here is the exact location of Manchester Fencing Centre – where fencing sessions take place.
How does the club benefit the local community?
“It creates its own community and brings lots of people from vastly different backgrounds – whether it be different social class or religion – as we have a diverse population in our community. That is represented through our coaches too. They originate from lots of different backgrounds which helps to be more inclusive.”
Why do you think people should take up fencing?
“Fencing is a sport that anybody can do at whatever level they want to be able to do it at. You can pick it up at the age of 50 and still be able to compete and get fit. Normally, the youngest age you can start is about eight years old and at that age there are a lot more options but it is accessible to all races, religions and genders. There is also Paralympic fencing too so it you can do it if you are in a wheelchair. It really hasn’t got any boundaries.”