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The Art of Fencing

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"It's not just athletic ability. It's intellect. It's a physical chess game to be honest." Fifteen year-old Ayla Defatta is serious about her Fencing. "You have to learn to control yourself. So you can control what your opponent does. And you can control what the ref sees."

It's a great way to de stress according to Loyola College Prep student Morgan Feliciano. "You have to be real aggressive. So it's a real good stress reliever."

Have you ever wondered why it's called fencing? Andy Shaw, Instructor, Owner, and Chairman of the Fencing Hall of Fame says 'It's called fencing cause its offense and defense with only one hand." And even though you fight with swords it's one of the safest sports out there. "The last person killed in the united states, fencing, was in 1892 in Rhode island." I jokingly told Andy, "And that's why I will never do it. Because of that one person."

Meet Andy Shaw. He is the go-to guy on Fencing in the United States. When you walk into Andy's school, you'll notice right away that not only is this a fencing school but it is also the Fencing Museum of the United States. He has relics going back over one hundred years. And Shreveport just so happens to have the nations's fencing hall of fame. "When a man is inducted into the hall of fame....if you read in the new York times, you'll see he was inducted into the hall of fame in Shreveport, Louisiana."

Aside from Fencing Instructor and Chairman of the Fencing Hall of Fame....Andy Shaw also has the goal of molding and shaping his students and making them more well rounded people. Take for example, Ayla. She's been fencing with Andy for a year now.

"He's a great fencing coach. But more than that he's a life coach. I really look up to him. He's a role model for me. He cares about the person more than the fencing ability."

Morgan has the same great respect for Andy. "He's gotten me out of my shy phase. Cause I've always been quiet."

Fifteen year-old Claudia Dickson is home-schooled. She comes here for her fencing lessons. And says Andy adds some life lessons in with his instruction. "He builds me as a person. He builds my game. I like that about him." Clearly, these students love Andy and he returns their love with his years of experience and knowledge. "I teach them about the world. I teach them about current events in other countries."

Andy has kids that come in for private lessons plus he instructs on the art of fencing at Southfield school and a group of Loyola students come out to his school. And how long does it take to learn how to fence? With Andy, there is no exact answer.

"How long does it take to get to that point where you're like. I get it. I know what I'm doing." "How long does it take for men to understand about love?" "So never learn about fencing. That's what you're telling me?" "You're always learning."

But Andy finally relented and says it can take on average about 6 months to a year but that everyone is different. So Andy gives me a few very short lessons before we leave.

First he gives me a sword and then a helmet with some important advice. "And you can't eat while this is on. No chocolate. No. Can't scratch and itch."

While teaching me the right way Andy also tells me how they fence in the movies. While describing what you see in the movies, Andy is jumping around with the sword making big exaggerated movements. He calls what you see in the movies, Hollywood nonsense because of these big predictable choreographed moves and dialogue.

Then while we're here. Yeah? I talk to you about my family. And how I wanted to kill you for years. Then I go....blah. Ya know. Alot of stupid things. But in real life there are offensive and defensive techniques from thrusts to parries which require months of training to perfect. I told Andy, 'It's not as easy as they make it look on TV," Of course, he says. "TV is stupid about everything."


Fencing is more popular than you may believe.  
It has been featured in all the modern Olympic Games.  
And just like Thai boxing, Skydiving, and Scubadiving.....Anyone at just about any age can participate.  
Fairfield Fencing's website is  http://www.fencingonfairfield.com/site/   

They also have a website for their museum.     www.museumofamericanfencing.com



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