Fencing dates back to the Renaissance period when it was used as a method of duelling by aristocratic gentlemen to settle issues of honour. In the modern day, it still carries a sense of honour, chivalry and nobility that characterised that period of history.
Today, it is a sport attracting many because it requires a high level of tactical ability, flexibility and balance, rather than the brute strength required in other combative sports such as boxing and martial arts. It also offers the health benefits of cardiovascular fitness and improved levels of co-ordination and concentration.
The Hong Kong Fencing Association (www.hkfa.org.hk) co-organises short courses at elementary (four, two-hour lessons) and intermediate levels (eight, two-hour lessons) this month, in association with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). Costs are HK$50 for the elementary sessions and HK$100 for intermediate.
The LCSD also runs courses independently throughout the year. The cost is also HK$50 for eight hours' elementary training, HK$100 for intermediate. All courses the LCSD is connected with take place at its different sports centres around Hong Kong. Courses for adults are also run by a small number of fencing clubs affiliated with the HKFA with a list of clubs available on the association's website.
'Fencing became very popular in Hong Kong after the Asian Games in 2006. Every year, more than 400 entrants participate in open competitions and 3,000 take part in inter-school competitions around Hong Kong,' explains Gerald Cheng, coach and general manager of the Jubilee Fencing Centre (www.jfc-fencing.com).
JFC, in Quarry Bay, runs regular beginners' classes for adults. Group lessons usually cost HK$1,600 for an eight-hour course and JFC also offers individual lessons that cost between HK$500 and HK$800 depending on the skill level of the student.
A beginners' course covers the basic rules, etiquette, footwork, blade-use techniques and equipment. 'Fencing is a sport that welcomes all age groups. You can learn any time at any age. Our club has lots of adult beginners. Some have completed a beginners' course while they were studying at university and have come to our club to practise,' explains Lorraine Ng, chairwoman of Les Escrimeurs (Hong Kong).
'As with many combat sports you need an opponent to practise with and to apply your skills. This is especially true for people at advanced levels. So fencing is very much a venue-oriented sport. However, footwork can be practised any time if space allows.'
Les Escrimeurs (www.lehk.org) is another HKFA-affiliated club offering group courses for adults in Diamond Hill. Its beginners' courses comprise eight, two-hour lessons and cost HK$880.