A Long History
Fencing was developed hundreds of years ago and is one of a handful of events that have been in every Summer Olympics since the first modern Games in 1896. There are three different types of fencing—foil, sabre and epee. The foil is the smallest blade and the epee is the largest, and the target area to land hits during matches increases as the blade size gets bigger.
Modern fencing originated in Spain, where the first known book on fencing was written in the 1400s. Of course, until the 20th century, the reason for training in the art was not just for sporting purposes, but to prepare for the real possibility of being in a duel some day. Only since the end of World War II has it been simply viewed as a sport.
Do You Have What it Takes?
Fencing requires extremely high levels of quickness, agility, and mental and physical strength. Still, according to Soren Thompson, an epee fencer making his second trip to the Olympics the way an athlete approaches the sport depends on what their talents are.
“Some athletes are gonna be faster, they’re gonna try to use speed to their advantage,” he says. “Other athletes are gonna be stronger so they’ll use strength to their advantage. It’s really, once you develop within yourself how you try to maximize every facet of your game and try to minimize those of your opponent.”
Getting up to that point comes through plenty of practice, as well as a huge amount of conditioning.