Your child doesn’t have to be naturally athletic to graduate from paper towel roll fights to swordfights; in fact, fencing is a sport for all ages, genders and abilities. Kid fencers increase athleticism and body awareness during fast-paced bouts on the dueling strip wielding foils, epees or sabers. With practice — and lessons from these local instructors — even the smallest swordsmen and women can develop the agility, confidence and discipline to take down physically stronger players.
Coach Janos Gasparin teaches Olympic fencing to kids who want to take a stab at the sport and experienced fencers who want to take it a little more seriously. In recreational fencing classes offered at rec centers in Coppell, Flower Mound, Grapevine and Richardson, coach Janos shows beginners ages 8–14 basic footwork and blade drills during weekly one-hour lessons that include simple games and exercises. Each month builds on the discipline and athleticism kids learned the previous month and improves techniques for the fencing strip. Coach Janos’ competitive class prepares experienced fencers age 8 and older for tournaments. Adapted fencing classes are also available at the Flower Mound and Richardson locations for kids ages 13 and older who use a wheelchair, walker or other assistive device. Sign up online.
Cost: Recreational, $49 per month; competitive, $99 per month; adapted, $9 per month. Prices vary for recreation center nonmember guests.
When: Class times vary by location
Where: Multiple locations, 817/789-0823 // gasparinfencing.com
At Gold Blade Fencing Center in Southlake, beginners enroll in a six-week course that introduces young duelers to the foil and epee, blunt-ended swords that target the upper body. Encompassing all ages (usually 10 and older), the class pairs students according to size, strength and ability in order to teach proper fencing techniques. The studio offers uniforms and equipment to all fencing first-timers until the end of the six-week course when coach Mohamed Elsakhawy helps outfit your gym bag with fencing essentials like knickers, pads, body cords, etc. Upon completing the six-week program, students become club members with unlimited access to additional conditioning and footwork on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Drop in, meet an instructor and give it a try Monday–Friday after 6pm.
Cost: $150 per person per six-week course.
When: Mondays 6–7:30pm
Where: 500 N. Kimball Ave., Suite 103, Southlake, 817/416-0822 // goldbladefencing.com
Hone your saber skills at Cutting Edge Fencing Center in North Richland Hills. Coaches David and Kate Sierra teach ages 8 and older to master the saber sword in beginner courses and the Gold-Star program. Beginners ages 8–12 become familiar with the sword’s double-edged blade and quick footwork for the strip. After four weeks or with a coach’s approval, beginners advance to Youth Bronze Skill Development and learn stabs and jousts among other skills in month-long modules. Fencers just starting out may borrow equipment from the center for four months; after that, purchase your own or pay a small monthly rental fee.
When: Beginner class, Wednesdays 5:30–6:30pm; Saturday 9–10am
Where: 5328 Rufe Snow Drive, North Richland Hills, 817/428-5599 // cuttingedgefencing.com
Amgad Badawi, coach of Lebanon’s 2012 Olympic fencing team and co-owner of International Fencers Alliance of Dallas in Carrollton, provides club uniforms and equipment to beginners ages 7 and older. After attending two free introductory classes, fencers-to-be enroll in the beginner course where they learn strategic footwork for the strip and practice hitting wall targets with the foil. At Coach Badawi’s invitation, students advance to the intermediate and elite courses where they become acquainted with the epee and saber and eventually compete in national tournaments. Monthly memberships and family member discounts available.
Cost: $125 per month for beginner course; intermediate and elite pricing varies by package
When: Beginner course: Monday and Wednesday 6–7pm, Saturday 10–11am. Multiple intermediate and elite class times Monday–Sunday.
Where: 2640 Old Denton Road, Suite 212, Carrollton, 214/669-9592 // ifafencers.com
Ranked among the top 22 saber fencers in the nation, owner and head coach Chris Slaughter teaches fencing’s quickest sword, the saber, at Kairos Fencing Academy. Beginners ages 6 and older learn footwork in weekly classes with the option to attend drills and open fencing (free to members) throughout the week. In intermediate classes, students take their first stab at attacking an opponent’s upper-body targets, while advanced and elite students prepare for the North American Cup and other tournaments. Register online for a free introductory lesson.
Cost: $75 for four beginner classes; $150 per month for intermediate classes; $20 per day for open fencing (nonmembers)
When: Tuesday and Thursday: beginners, 6–7pm; intermediate, 7–8pm. Saturday: both levels, 1–2pm. Multiple class times available for advanced, elite, footwork drills and open fencing.
Where: QD Academy, 4100 Legacy Drive, Suite 404, Plano, 214/997-1259 // kairosfencingacademy.com
At Lonestar Fencing Center, United States Fencing Association-certified coaches teach kids to master all three fencing blades. With a combined 50 years of experience, Lonestar’s coaches teach fencing fundamentals to beginners ages 6–8 in the Musketeer program or ages 9–12 in the Junior program. Call to schedule a free one-on-one trial class. Equipment is provided for the first month.
Cost: $75 per month for Musketeer program; $125 per month for Junior program; $285 per month for private instruction
When: Musketeer, Saturdays 10:30am–12pm; Junior, Tuesdays and Thursdays 5–6:30pm, Saturdays 12–2pm
Where: 915 W. Parker Road, Suite 311, Plano, 469/655-2927 // lonestarfencingcenter.org
Telos Fitness Club, 13701 Dallas Parkway, Dallas, 469/855-1281 // lonestarfencingcenter.org
The wheelchair-friendly classes at the Fencing Institute of Texas, the only United States Olympic Committee-affiliated Paralympics sports club in North Texas, welcome children of all abilities to learn fencing from internationally acclaimed instructors. Start by bringing your child to a free Friday evening introductory class to see what a bout on the fencing strip is like. If she’s hooked, join the beginner classes, where first-time fencers ages 6 and older pair with students similar in age and size to run agility and endurance drills and practice aiming with the foil, epee or sabre swords. When your child is ready to take her training to the next level, the institute offers 20-minute private lessons to correct technique and hone strategies to prep for tournaments. Cost includes all necessary equipment for beginners.
Cost: Beginner class, $105 per month; private class, $35 per 20–30 minute lesson
When: Introductory class, Fridays 7–8pm; Beginner classes, Saturdays 9–10am.
Where: 1000 W. Crosby Road, Suite 134, Carrollton, 972/242-0399 // fenceintexas.org
Duelers focus on the saber at Rockwall Fencing Academy. The only weapon that allows cutting and stabbing movements, the saber requires quick reflexes and precise movements. With help from United States Fencing Association-certified coaches, students ages 7–12 (juniors) develop the balance and mental awareness they need to predict and counter an opponent’s next move. All classes meet three times a week, and the first week is free for new students. Equipment is provided.
Cost: $85 per month; $170 per month family membership
When: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; juniors, 6–7:30pm.
Where: 5133 S. FM 549, Rockwall, 903/439-3626 // rockwallfencing.com
This article was first published in the January 2017 issues of CollinChild and DallasChild. ©ISTOCK