Fight with courage, win with honor and lose with dignity.
Those words comprise the motto of the Fort Myers Fencing Club, whose members visited the Sanibel Recreation Center last week for a demonstration of the ancient combat activity which uses a variety of bladed weapons.
Introducing the Summer Day Camp participants to the one-on-one sport, Charles Johnson and six members of his club showed youngsters how to use the three modern competitive weapons — foil, epee and sabre — and how fencing is as much about outsmarting your opponent as it is about athleticism.
"It's like chess... but at 90 mph," said 14-year-old Dexter Moore, who became interested in fencing about seven years ago. "It's good to be athletic, but you also have to have intelligence."
But unlike chess, your opponent isn't going to poke your torso in order to gain points during a competition.
"You have to be thinking several moves ahead," Moore added.
According to Johnson, his club has been promoting the sport for the last 30 years.
"It is our goal to promote awareness and actively recruit young athletes to this sport," he said. "Many young people do not enjoy team sports. Fencing is ideal for these kids. Fencing is a fast-paced, one-on-one sport that helps build strength, coordination, self-esteem… and it's a heck of a lot of fun!"
Jason Moore, 16, encouraged his little brother to pursue his interest in fencing after his mother suggested the activity.
"I like it because it's just you and your opponent," said Moore, who took part in the 2010 Nationals in Atlanta, Ga. "It's a lot of fun for both of us."
Inside the Rec Center's auditorium, campers watched the Fort Myers Fencing Club's members demonstrate their swordsmanship skills. The showed how to advance (move forward), retreat (move backward), parry, lunge and various forms of attack and defense. Some of the camp participants even took turns serving as judges during the matches.
"I think I enjoy the adrenaline rush the most," said 16-year-old Sarah Buckley, who explained that she began fencing after her younger brother joined the club. "It's fun trying to outsmart your opponent, and be quicker. It's definitely a challenge."
Johnson also said that he hopes more people will try their hand at fencing at least once in their lives.
"We encourage everyone to become involved and participate, whether your goal is to just get a good workout or compete at the local, regional, or national level," he added. "Most people who join our club have never fenced before."
For more information about the Fort Myers Fencing Club, call 239-939-1338.
Sarah Buckley, left, and Jason Moore battle during a foil fencing demonstration last Friday afternoon at the Sanibel Recreation Center.