Have you ever paused to consider whether the fencing aphorisms your coach mutters also apply to life? Well, they do. Fencing teaches several crucial life lessons, such as:
- Don’t underestimate women, old people, or fourteen year old girls.
- When in doubt, go for the jugular.
- Lefties are evil.
But seriously, when you’ve been on the piste long enough, you’ll pick up lessons that will help you get through adult life. Whether that means landing a good job or thriving as an adult, fencing can prepare you for it.
We encourage you to reflect on what fencing has taught you about life, but here are seven lessons to get you started.
Getting A Job
Are you trying to get your first job out of college? Mentioning that you’re a fencer usually piques a hiring manager’s interest, so discussing it in your cover letter or during an interview is a no-brainer. But if you want to amaze the hiring managers, you can illustrate how the sport’s life lessons have made you the perfect candidate.
The smallest details make the biggest difference
You hit off-target, what’s the solution? Adjust the position of your hand on the attack. Your opponent hit you before you could finish your attack, so what do you do next time? Get a little further away from your opponent and slow down on the attack.
Correcting your problems in fencing often comes down to addressing the smallest details, and employers want detail-oriented individuals. Communicating that you’re detail-oriented by using a relatable fencing anecdote is a unique and creative approach to convincing employers that you’re the right person for the job.
Solve your problems one point at a time
As an experienced fencer, you know that the time between touches is your opportunity to course-correct after losing a touch. Mastering that skill can be crucial in the workplace. Employers love problem solvers who think on their feet. They also love employees who can get to the heart of a problem efficiently, so make sure you have some anecdotes from the strip to back that up.
Losing teaches you more than winning
This line is a cliche at this point, but you know it’s true. You’ve learned more about what you’re doing wrong and what good fencing looks like when you’ve lost.
Employers like fast learners. That includes people who are easy to train and who can learn from their mistakes. You can use your experience as a fencer to show them that even when you make mistakes or “lose,” you take lessons from those experiences and use them to improve.
Being An Adult
Fencing can teach you useful skills for the workplace, but it can also instill principles that can help you become a mature adult.
Practice makes permanent
We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” But what if you practice something poorly? Will you be perfect at that thing? Of course not! You’ll develop a bad habit. Conversely, if you do something right consistently, you develop a good habit.
That goes for any life skill you want to learn: You need to take the time to do it right, or else you’ll just develop bad habits.
You have to risk getting hurt to win
Recall your early days of fencing. How many times did you fail to complete an action or put your hand in front of your body because you were afraid of getting hit? Did that make for good fencing? Obviously not. You only started improving once you stopped being afraid.
That goes for life, too. Whether you’re trying to learn a new skill, achieve a big career goal, or are looking for someone you can spend your life with, you won’t get what you want unless you risk getting hurt.
Commit to the attack…but always have a back-up plan
The touch was in reach, but then you hesitated and lost your opportunity. You put everything you had into that lunge! But then your opponent hit you with a parry-riposte. In fencing, committing to an action and having a plan-B isn’t an either-or affair. It’s both. And sometimes you need to have a convincing plan-A for your plan-B to work out.
The same thing goes for life. Do you want that job? You have to show them that you mean it. Are you now tired of your current job? Try to line up a new one before you leave.
Fencing is uniquely suited to teaching life lessons because it’s strategic and individual-oriented. You have to take responsibility for your actions in this sport and you have to think strategically to do well. It’s much like life in America: Even when you need help from others, other people will hold you responsible for your choices. That means you need to think ahead, assess your available options, and make the most of them (just like in a fencing bout).
If you’d like to continue your fencing career, come to Swordplay LA. We have instructors available for private lessons, weekly classes, and open fencing on Monday nights. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the club!