quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Monday, April 23, 2007

British fencer makes the news

The other week, fencers were talking of a new British epeeist who "came from nowhere" to win a major international event. And the story has suddenly reached the British press. (It's rare to see fencing mentioned in the British papers.)

I'm pleased to see Jon Willis isn't posh. (His dad's a postman.) Until I met fencers, I assumed it was a sport for the rich. I knew it was taught at some public (in Britain, that means private) schools. I thought the social aspects of fencing might be much scarier than having someone attack me with a sword. It took me many years to find the fencing club at the local leisure centre. It was a relief to find that the members aren't the sort of people who get their pictures in The Tatler - or, if they do they keep quiet about it.

There have been quite a lot of fencers who haven't fitted into high society. My favourite is the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the son of a slave and a slave-owner, born in Guadeloupe. He was the best fencer in France, a conductor, a composer, and a colonel (of a black regiment) in the French revolutionary army. (This French website includes extracts from his work.) And Alexandre Dumas, fencer, author of The Three Musketeers and grandson of a slave, was another outsider.

It's a shame that the idea of fencing as a posh sport persists. People ask, "Isn't it terribly expensive?" and are surprised to discover that I pay less to fence than they do in gym fees or that I was able to borrow the equipment when I started. I wonder how many people are put off fencing because they think it's just for posh people.

I wonder if Jon Willis will help change the image of fencing in Britain ... or if there'll be any more stories about fencing in the press.

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Blogger KateJ said...

I quite agree with your comments about sports with a 'posh' reputation. Sailing is like that, and it couldn't be further from the truth. I'm going to post a blog about it, myself... thanks for the inspiration (I'll give you a credit!)

1:29 pm  

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