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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.

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 fencing in the Santa Barbara area. In 2011, we began Presidio North to offer fencing classes in Northern Santa Barbara County.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Osborn

Most of Presidio's fencers are recreational athletes, coming to practices to break a sweat. A few others compete as part of a team, traveling to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and elsewhere in the country for competition.

Fencing is a great sport for athletes in middle school and high school.  We are proud of our Varsity and Junior Varsity titles (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) in the Southern California Scholastic Fencing League.  Upon graduation, our young fencers have gone on to compete at both the varsity and the club level at these colleges and universities:

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:

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.

Saber: 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. Seniors (i.e. those aged 13+), may choose to practice these  weapons during sparring.



Photo courtesy of Doug Golupski

Tim Robinson is the head coach and owner of Presidio Fencing Club. He also coaches at UCSB, where he has held a lecturer position in the Exercise and Sports Studies Department  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, a professional coaching certificate, with the US Fencing Coaches Association and the International Academy of Arms.

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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Header photo courtesy of Kevin Osborn.  Other pictures taken by Doug Golupski of Santa Barbara Surf Photography, Oliver Bublitz, Kevin Osborn, and Tim Robinson. Much of the section on the sport of fencing was taken from US Fencing's promotional material.