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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

En garde: parrying the predispositions of fencing

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With a variety of extracurricular activities to choose from, Indiana resident Cameron Gant, 21, wanted to go a less than traditional route. Gant wanted to learn everything about the art of the blade. “I always wanted to learn swordplay,” Gant said. “Fencing was a great avenue for that.”

Fencing is a sport that has grown in popularity in recent years. With its blend of athleticism, strategy, grace and skill, fencing appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds as an exciting and demanding sport. In Indiana, fencing has become increasingly popular among young people of color, and several programs and organizations are making the graceful art of swordplay more accessible than ever.

According to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), the levels of diversity and inclusion in fencing are rising. However, the USOPC diversity scorecard for fencing – an annual report that quantifies the number of people of color in an Olympic sport –found that currently, only 13.29% of Americans who partake in fencing on an Olympic level are people of color. This includes not only fencers, but standing committees, board of directors, national teams, part-time employees and others. This figure is lower than the global average of 28.62% (2022).

Gant recalls his time at Noblesville High School in 2015 when he first got involved in fencing. “I didn’t feel like doing the other activities at the school,” Gant said. “Plus, I had friends in fencing.”

Fencing; Indiana
(Photo/Getty Images)

Fencing is a sport that has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The origins of fencing are traced back to sword fighting. The latter was a popular form of combat in Europe during the Middle Ages. In the 16th century, fencing became a favored pastime among European nobility. The pastime was soon recognized as a formal sport. Fencing quickly spread throughout Europe, ultimately making its way to the Americas, according to USOPC.

Aside from Noblesville High School’s fencing club, there are a handful of fencing programs in the area. One of the most prominent fencing programs in Indiana is IndySabre. Founded in 2008, IndySabre is an organization that provides fencing instruction and training to young people in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The program is open to children and adults, offering classes and competitions for fencers of all aptitudes.

Many parents, including Indianapolis resident DeAnn Spaulding, recommend fencing as an extracurricular activity to other parents. “I think my son learned a lot during his time in the program,” Spaulding said.

While reflecting on the values he has learned since starting fencing, Gant emphasized that the sport not only provides a challenging and exciting athletic experience but also teaches valuable life skills that young people can carry with them into adulthood.

“Fencing teaches you to be honorable, accountable and responsible,” Gant said. “I just wish fencing was recognized as a sport by the NCAA the same way it is recognized as an Olympic sport. Fencing is more than just a club.”

Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also check out the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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