Fencing strikes back thanks to `Die Another Day`
Fencing, once the sport of public schoolboys and actors with Errol Flynn-type aspirations, has been dusted off and given a glamorous new image.
James Bond, Johnny Depp and Star Wars` Jedi knights are providing the inspiration for a new generation of fencing enthusiasts and have made it one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
This year`s Birmingham International Fencing Competition, which took place at the weekend at Birmingham University, was the biggest, attracting 550 participants aged between 14 to well into their 60s.
Participants also came from as far afield as the USA, Thailand, New Zealand, Germany and France.
On Saturday evening the foil and sabre finals were held in front of the Lady Mayoress, Coun Deirdre Alden (Con Edgbaston), herself a former fencer.
"Die Another Day was big news for fencing," said Keith Smith, the president of British Fencing. "Some clubs could hardly find room for all the people who started coming after it came out.
"Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lord of the Rings have also helped and Star Wars has always created interest too.
"If you give kids a couple of sticks they will bang them together and have a sword fight."
There are three categories of fencing and they depend on the weapon used.
The most popular form involves an epee, the traditional duelling weapon. A "hit" is scored when the weapon makes contact with any part of the body and an attack can be made at any time.
Fencing using a foil was developed as a practice device for fighters to hone their parrying moves in tandem with their attacking skills. The third form uses the sabre, a battle weapon used by the cavalry to slash as well as cut.
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