Locals seize fencing opportunity

Published 6:00 am Saturday, April 4, 2009

Want to try something different? The ancient art of fencing is available, and goes way back into history to European medieval times, knights of the roundtable and clanking armored men on horseback. But found in Shelby County? Oh, yes.

Last week, I caught up with Birmingham Fencing Club President David Arias, as he flew home from New York. Arias, who leads our area in this sport, has plans in the works for Sports Blast on Highway 280.

“I’m motivated by a desire to stay in good physical condition,” he said. “The sport is a combination of speed and complex strategies, so the challenge is to adapt, and do so very quickly.”

I considered the roots of most early settlers of our fair region: Scots, Irish, Brits. Many of our ancestors were deadly serious about fencing. I asked, “Does history play into the picture?”

“Fencing, based on combat, has history going back more than 500 years. Modern fencing, as Summer Olympic Games, continues to evolve to higher levels of athleticism, technique. The sport is faster, and uses light flexible weapons,” Arias said.

Thought of flexible weapons gave me a sigh a relief. Maybe this game’s safer than football. Certainly it has more class than paintball, I’m thinking, and with rich history to boot.

“What skills or values can students take away from fencing classes,” I asked.

“Fencing challenges students physically and mentally, can be enjoyed throughout life. Students at the club range from age six to 92, and schedules are flexible,” Arias said. “You can train for Olympics, an Ivy League university and everything in between. All 80 members of the Birmingham Fencing Club share a passion for the sport.”

About this time, I’m wishing for more agility, flexibility, greater stamina. Maybe I should have begun the sport of fencing in my youth? But fencing wasn’t available here, way back then. It’s one of the newer offerings in Birmingham; something to appreciate about our region as it blooms and grows, giving more opportunities for next generations.

But, you can seize the chance to learn fencing.

Sports Blast in Shelby County on Highway 280 offers classes at a location convenient for people in this area. Students will be given opportunity for periodic training with Birmingham Fencing Club. Classes will meet twice each week and are planned for both children and adults. For more information, call David Arias at 515–3902 or by e–mail at dave@sportsblastsc.com.