Fencing Club uses sport as a way to blow off steam

If you’re looking for a way to vent your stress come exam season, you should take up fencing.

Apparently nothing beats hitting somebody with a sword. At least that’s how the University of Alberta’s Fencing Club President Cameron Griffiths explained it.

“It’s a really, really good way to stay fit and kind of blow off some steam,” he said when asked what he liked most about the sport.

Chelsea Butler, a veteran member of the club echoed Griffiths’ sentiments.

“It’s a great workout, it’s a lot of fun, you get to meet a lot of really cool, quirky people,” she said. “It’s also a really good outlet for any anger and it’s great for getting rid of any problems or issues, just get it out there and fence.”
While that might sound intimidating, both Griffiths and Butler said that injuries aren’t a common occurrence.

“You can get hit in the head, but because of the mask it doesn’t hurt at all,” Butler said. “The most tender spot is in the shoulder blade area, but even then it still doesn’t hurt that much because you have so much equipment.

“You kinda just get used to it.”

There’s a lot more to the game than just hitting another person with a sword, Griffiths explained. The sport involves both physical and mental focus, as both combatants battle to be one step ahead of their opponent both physically and mentally.
The strategy involved can be compared to chess, in a way, Griffiths said.

“You have to have your body exactly where you want it, and your opponent is trying to plan at the same time,” he said. “It’s not only you being the better athlete but you playing to your opponent’s weaknesses.”

The club just hosted the annual Wetterberg Open on Sunday, which is a provincial fencing tournament that’s been going on over 40 years. The Wetterberg is the club’s marquee event, and it attracted more than 50 people from around the province, including one fencer from Saskatchewan, to participate in events geared towards fencers of different ages and experience levels.

Like the Wetterberg Open, the Fencing Club is open to anybody — both students and members of the community — who are interested in fencing, regardless of skill or experience.

Griffiths said he joined the club in his third year at the U of A without any prior history in the sport.

“To be honest, I went and looked through the activity guide when I was in my third year,” he said. “Usually, the story is usually like mine. Some have fenced previously and they come and find out that we have a fencing club and join that way, but a large majority are people who just want to try it out.”

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