Photo: Evan Carlisle with his Coach, Velizar Iliev.
Steeped in history and tradition, fencing is a sport with origins dating back to early Greek and Roman times. Characterized by form and expression, fencing is an ancient symbol of power and glory and one of only four sports to have been featured at every modern Olympic Games. While the flashy duels in movies like Zorro and The Princess Bride may have glorified the sport, fencing actually requires deep concentration and personal responsibility, as described by three young fencers with the Olympian Fencing Club here in San Antonio: Alex Streeter (age 15), Brendon Benavides (age 12), and Evan Carlisle (age 10).
“Fencing is very person and requires you to be self reliant,” described Alex. “If you lose, you can’t blame anyone else.”
All three boys use an épée (the French word for “sword”) when dueling. A mesh mask protects the face; an underarm guard and plastic chest protector protects the chest, armpits and sides; a fencing jacket protects the upper torso; padded trousers, knickers and long socks protect the legs; and lightweight shoes with good grips offer mobility and stability. Some other commonly used fencing terms are “en guarde” (get into position), “fleche” (charge your opponent), and “coupe” (a flick at the arm or hand). One little known fact to those outside the fencing community: each fencer is hooked up to a machine which counts “touches” by an opponent. In a regular bout, five touches equal a win.
“I just love fencing, it’s an enjoyable sport,” described Brendon. “The most challenging part is calculating the distance from your opponent and keeping a visual on what they are doing.”
“Fencing is fun and you can meet very interesting people,” added Evan. “Getting fit is hard work, and I try to get used to accepting constructive criticism.”
Each young fencer has achieved a lot in his tenure with the sport. Evan won the First Place Cup at the Y-10 Regional Youth Circuit, awarded to fencers with the most total points. After winning his first medal in a fencing tournament, Alex received a “D” rating which he hopes to one day improve to an “A” rating. Brendon’s shining moment was when he received a third place medal at a fencing tournament. All three credit their coach, Velizar Iliev, for their success.
“Coach Velizar helped me a lot when I came to the Olympian Fencing Club,” explained Brendon.
“He’s taught me everything,” added Alex.
The boys have remained busy throughout the summer, traveling to Houston for a fencing camp in June and to California for Summer Nationals. To follow their success, visit www.olympianfencing.com and don’t forget to tune into the Olympics this summer.