You're wearing a mask that covers your whole face and dressed in padded clothing. You dance back and forth gracefully whilst holding a flexible metal rod in one hand. Another person opposite you follows this process and repeats it. Sounds like a bizarre African dance.
The problem with fencing is its stereotype. Most people believe fencers are only people with perfect hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes and that they are born that way. I however have proved that this is not the case since I have less hand-eye coordination than a blind tennis player, and reflexes as fast as a sloth.
Last month I took a trip down to my local sport centre and inquired about fencing. I was told that there were evening classes every Monday and that all I needed to bring was a pair of trainers to start. It just happened to be Monday that day and so I went back home and picked up my trainers.
Our instructor Pierre Harper (six times British Senior Champion and three times Commonwealth Champion) briefly explained to us the history of fencing. Finishing with some inspirational words "The modern Olympic fencer trains for years, honing agility, quickness, and subtlety of movement". No hope for me then. Then he went through some basic stretching exercises to warm us up such as: A hamstring stretch (which involves sitting on the floor, pulling one leg up until your foot is next to your knee. Then stretch for your toes of the straight leg). Having pulled every muscle I thought possible during this easy' exercise, I began to wonder if I was up to fencing and whether my body could cope with this new strain inflicted on it. But I carried on; I was determined to at least hold a foil before the end of the evening. To my delight I was immediately given my fencing clothes which consisted of a plastron (a protective under layer), a jacket and a glove. I was then sent off to learn the basic fencing technique with my instructor.
"Perseverance is key but you...