Welcome to the Club
Presidio Fencing Club comprises a group of fencing enthusiasts from Santa Ynez to Carpinteria. We offer group classes, open recreation, and individual lessons for novice and experienced
athletes, aged 10 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 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. We operate under the umbrella of the Central Coast Fencing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (tax ID# 820540198). The club began in 2004 as a recreational outfit under the name "Santa Barbara Youth Fencers." In 2006 we changed our namesake to identify ourselves as an outpost for sport fencingin the Santa Barbara area. 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 Drill classes are taught with the foil. Seniors, however (i.e. those aged 13+), may choose to practice the other weapons during sparring.
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. Upon graduation from high school, Presidio fencers have gone on to fence at both the Varsity and the Club level at their colleges. Schools with Presidio alumni include Duke University, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Cal Poly SLO, Georgia Tech, CSU Long Beach, and Sarah Lawrence College.
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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.