Welcome to the Club
Presidio Fencing Club offers group classes, open recreation, and individual lessons for novice and experienced
fencers ages 8 to Adult. The sport of fencing is great exercise and plenty of fun and we want to give
everyone who has ever wanted to swing a sword in Olympic fashion an opportunity to do so.
Some of Presidio's fencers attend group practices and compete as part of a travel team. Others are more recreational, and only attend sparring sessions to break a sweat.
Presidio Fencing Club is a member of the United States Fencing Association and our athletes
compete in the Southern California Division. The club began in 2004 as a recreational outfit under the name "Santa Barbara Youth Fencers." With
the support of a number of families from Los Olivos to Montecito, the club was successful enough to open a permanent location
in the Magnolia Shopping Center in 2006. In May 2009 we moved to our larger location in Downtown Santa Barbara. In 2011, we began Presidio North, an outfit for fencing classes in Northern Santa Barbara County.
The Sport of Fencing
Although swordplay has been around since ancient times, it was not until the 18th Century that equipment was safe enough for sport, and rules of engagement were codified. What developed was the basis for modern fencing, one of a few sports to appear in every Olympics since 1896.
It is a fast, athletic game, made up of three events:
- Foil –
Dubbed the "Sport of Kings," the foil is a descendant of the light,
court sword formerly used by nobility
to train for duels. It has a flexible,
rectangular blade approximately 35
inches in length and weighing less
than one pound. Points are scored
with the tip of the blade and must
land on valid target: torso, from
shoulders to groin in the front, and shoulders to the waist in the back.
Foil employs rules of right of way. The fencer who starts to attack first is given priority should his opponent counter-attack.
An electrical scoring system detects hits on valid target. Each foil has a blunt, spring-loaded button at the point of the blade that must be depressed with a pressure of 500 grams or more to register a hit. The foil fencer’s uniform features an electrically wired metallic vest called a lamé - a hit to the lamé causes the scoring machine to display a colored light on the side of the fencer that scored the touch.
Épée – The epee (pronounced “EPP-pay” -
literally meaning "sword" in French)
is the descendant of the dueling sword.
It is heavier than the foil, weighing approximately
27 ounces, with a stiffer, thicker blade
and a larger guard. As in foil, touches
are scored only with the point of the
blade; however, in epee the entire body, head-to-toe, is valid target - much like in an actual duel. There is no concept of "off-target" in epee. Some people refer to epee as "Freestyle Fencing" because anything goes.
The saber is the modern version of
the slashing cavalry sword. As such,
the major difference between saber
and the other two weapons is that
saberists can score with the edge
of their blade as well as their point. In saber, the target area is the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. In addition, saber has rules of right of way which are very similar to foil but with subtle differences.
At Presidio Fencing Club, we consider the Epee and Saber to be "advanced" weapons. All of our Youth Drill and Sparring classes are taught with the foil. Seniors, however (i.e. those aged 13+), may choose to practice the other weapons during class.
- a sprung, raised floor spanning more than 2,000 sq. ft.
- 4 full-length fencing strips for sparring and competitions and 2 practice strips for classes.
- large lobby and viewing area
for waiting parents, plus ample parking for downtown activities, including Tuesday and Saturday Farmers Markets.
- library of fencing and sports training books
- fitness equipment for cross-training
- workbench and tools for equipment maintenance
- a small pro-shop for sales of basic equipment
- From Hwy 101, North and South, take the Garden Street Exit and turn toward the mountains.
- After three blocks, turn left on Cota Street. The club is located in the large, brick building on your left.
- There is a parking lot with spots in the rear of the building. Additional parking is also available on the street. On Sundays, visitors can also park for free in the City Lot at the corner of Cota and Santa Barbara Streets.
- Santa Barbara locals should consider side-streets if the freeway is crowded. Presidio Fencing Club is easily accessible from the Castillo and Carillo exits. From Mission, we recommend taking De La Vina all the way to Cota.
Tim Robinson is the head coach and owner of Presidio Fencing Club. He also coaches at UCSB and has held a lecturer position in the Exercise and Sports Studies Department there since 2002. He has attended the US Fencing Coaches College at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and he holds the rank of Prevot d'Armes with the US Fencing Coaches Association.
Coach Robinson takes a personal interest in the health and fitness of his fencers. His focus with the youth fencers, especially, is on functional and athletic development, with an emphasis on kinesthetic awareness and motor skills improvement. This dedication earned him a Coach of the Year award from SBParent.com in 2008. The next year, one of his first youth students, Cameron Westbury, was Division II National Champion at the US Fencing Summer National Championships.
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Presidio Fencing Club
Photos courtesy of Oliver Bublitz, Kevin Osborn, and Tim Robinson. Much of the section on the sport of fencing was taken from US Fencing's promotional material.