Rexburg’s secret swordsmen

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Joshua Williams and Andrew Sparks take one another on in a bout of fencing. Photo credit: Isaac Dixon

Unbeknown to many people here at BYU-Idaho, a group of students gathers twice a week to learn the basics of fencing and then enhance their skills through dueling one another. The classes are open for anyone to come, with only a small fee to rent the gear necessary for the semester.

Proper fencing gear includes gloves, full body protection (including a mask) and a foil, epee, or saber.
Proper fencing gear includes gloves, full body protection (including a mask) and a foil, epee, or saber. Photo credit: Isaac Dixon

“It is loads of fun; I’d definitely recommend it,” said Keagan Ellsworth, a sophomore majoring in international studies. “It keeps you on your feet and actually helps me think clearer, funnily enough.”

The group meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Gordon B. Hinckley Building. Participants simply check in on a sheet and get their gear.

The more experienced students become the instructors, teaching the basics to the newcomers. Once you have finished your first five lessons or so, you are ready for your first bout against another student.

“Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s a blast,” said Emmitt Stevenson, a sophomore studying engineering. “It’s an easy workout, and it’s just always a ton of fun to come and fence other people. It definitely is easy to learn the basics, and it doesn’t take long to learn everything.”

The club used to have smaller attendance rates, only around eight people each session, and it never really advertised for people to join.

However, since COVID-19 and the quarantine, people have been seeking new hobbies and ways to meet people. The club’s membership spiked and has steadied out where it is now, with 20-30 people showing up consistently.

There are three different kinds of fencing; foil, epee and saber, each with variations of the same rules. All three methods can be learned through the lessons here.
There are three different kinds of fencing; foil, epee and saber, each with variations of the same rules. All three methods can be learned through the lessons here. Photo credit: Isaac Dixon

“Everybody can learn. Some people might enjoy it more than others,” said Benji Gardner, a senior and instructor for the fencing classes majoring in art. “Come and stab people; it’s fun.”

The program will be continued next semester and encourages anyone interested in fencing to try it out. The lessons’ information and schedule can be found on the BYU-I Sports Activities page.