Photo by Kenny Haeffele
Elias Johnson (left) and Wesley Johnson (right) fence during the Fencing Club’s latest meeting.

Fencing is a physical Olympic sport that is competitive and can be physically demanding. Yet, with a 10-minute lesson, students can be fencing.

Part of the United States Fencing Association, the 30-member Weber State University Fencing Club is open to WSU students and alumni as well as local residents. For $25 each month, those interested can learn to fence and compete. WSU fields a team against the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, Idaho State University and Boise State University.

Brian Valdivieso, a WSU freshman and English major, serves as the club treasurer. Valdivieso has been fencing for almost a year.

“I initially was drawn to the archaic appeal of fencing,” Valdivieso said. “It’s like challenging someone to a duel.”

Valdivieso said he also likes the competitive individual sport, which allows participants to compete at any skill level. Competition is gender-specific.

There are three weapons a fencer will use: the foil, epee and the saber. With the epee, fencers can score by touching their opponents anywhere on the body. Both competitors can score at the same time. With the foil and saber, fencers can only score by touching the torso. There is a right of way that allows only one of the competitors to score at a time. The official determines the right of way, and points are given upon his or her decision. The rules of right of way generally favor the attacker, thus making the saber and foil a quicker and more aggressive bout. Points are awarded in the foil match when the tip touches the metallic vest. A score is made in the torso area from the shoulders to the groin, excluding the head, neck, shoulders, arms and legs.

Club adviser Kenny Nopens has been teaching fencing for 10 years and has produced students who have competed on the world stage, with students taking second in the United States. Last April, Nopens’ students traveled to Moscow, Russia, and placed 10th in the world.

“Most schools have 200 people in their clubs,” Nopens said. “We have anywhere from 45-60, so 10th in the world is quite impressive. . . . It’s not difficult to learn. Ten minutes of instruction and you can fence.”

Students do need to practice to compete. WSU competes in the Utah Southern Idaho Fencing Association. The NCAA does have fencing leagues; however, they are located on the East Coast. Nopens said he is hoping to expand the club.

SU will compete at ISU on Oct. 27. The Fencing Club meets in the Stromberg Complex every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. Visitors are welcome.

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