One. Two. Three. En guard!
Junior Christopher Melnychuk appears to be the typical, studious kid when seen walking the halls or crowded paths around the school. Many people would never guess that he fences, or let alone knows that fencing stayed around long after Medieval times.
Melnychuk started attending the Encinitas Fencing Academy just over a year ago. Shortly after, he joined the fencing team and has already formed strong relationships with his six other teammates in this short time. Like any sport, his teammates can all relate to each other by sharing the same passion for fencing.
“I like how it’s physical and that you have to be in good shape and have to be able to read the other person’s moves,” Melnychuk said.
The rules of fencing are fairly simple. The players have a designated area in which they must remain in while facing their opponent. The object of the game is to hit the other player with your weapon. The players play three rounds of five, similar to the point system of tennis. Whoever wins the most rounds wins the game.
“The fencers at my Academy enter tournaments under the same team name and whichever team earns the most points by the end wins,” Melnychuk said.
There are different kinds of fencing, depending on the type of weapon the fencer uses. The weapons in Epee are the longest and the opponents can hit each other anywhere on the body. Melnychuk explained that Sabor and Foil are the two other styles of fencing. In order to get points in these styles the player must hit their challenger above the chest.
“I do Epee, but we all have to wear pants called knickers, a special jacket, gloves and mask,” Melnychuk said.
The fencers have to practice unique exercises in order to make sure they are on top of their game when tournaments come around. The coaches work on improving the players’ quickness and agility. They do specific drills in order to ensure their reflexes are on point. However, it is up to the players to push themselves individually to improve their endurance and tone their body.
“Strong leg muscles are really important for all of the retreating and advancing exercises and for your stance also,” Melnyuchuk said.
The blade movement is an essential part of fencing. If energy is wasted on big movements then it makes it easier for the opponent to advance on their challenger. Not only is spastic blade movement detrimental to the player’s performance but can also cause injury.
“Occasionally blades can snap, one guy got stabbed in the arm,” Melnychuk said.
Touché! In order to avoid mishaps like this, Melnychuk and his teammates attend practices three to four times a week. Many of the players on his team hope to be granted scholarships to one of the top fencing schools.
“I would like to attend Columbia because they have a really good fencing team, but for now fencing is only recreational,” Melnychuk said.