You know what really brings a family together? Stabbing each other with metal rods, also known as the sport of fencing.
Whether you or your kids have fenced before or any of you are new to the sport, taking fencing lessons together is a worthwhile family activity. It provides opportunities for you to bond with your kids, and you’ll get to see them mature and grow because of the sport.
To prove that point, we sat down with one of our Swordplay LA parents, Sean Upchurch, and talked to him about the lessons he takes with his son. Read on to learn how fencing has benefited their father-son relationship and how it can do the same for you.
What attracted you and your son to fencing?
I started fencing as an undergraduate in college. I had long held an interest in period swordplay, and sport fencing was a natural extension of that. I tried a class and enjoyed it immensely. I fenced for a few years during graduate school as well, but life got in the way and I dropped out for some time.
I asked my son the question as well. We decided to have him join a sport and let him select what he wanted to try. He told me that he wanted to try fencing because we had a couple of his birthday parties at Swordplay LA, and they had piqued his interest. He came in for the free trial lesson and immediately decided that he wanted to continue with fencing. He likes that fencing is an individual sport and that you can fence year round.
What made you decide to do your lessons together?
I decided that it had been too many years since I last fenced and wanted to get back into the sport. My plan was to have my son take private lessons for a couple of months and then have semi-private lessons. This gave him the full attention of our instructor and helped him become familiar with the weapon and focus on his footwork.
With a semi-private lesson, he can watch what I do as a reinforcement to the instruction (assuming I’m getting it right). We also have the opportunity to fence each other at the end of the lesson. This is fun for him and lets our instructor watch what we are both doing and make suggestions.
How has fencing brought you and your son closer together?
Fencing is now a shared experience that we have. It also helps him to see that I am learning something new alongside him. While I had been fencing for several years, my prior experience is with a different weapon so we are both learning several elements together. Learning together is a direct example of an important lesson: one is always learning new things.
Has fencing benefited you and your son individually?
My son’s confidence is growing. At first he was cringing from the blade and was scared of getting hit. Now he stands his ground, takes touches in stride, and attacks with greater conviction.
At home, the weekly ritual of preparing for our lesson has also shifted. At first, I got all of the gear and water together and made sure we get out of the house on time. Now he’s eager to get going, packs his own gear, and has appointed himself the keeper of the water.
For myself, I have rediscovered an old love and I get to share it with my son. We now have a great start to the weekend that gets us up and moving on a Saturday morning. This turns what may have been a lazy weekend into one full of activity; I’ve been getting a bit round over the years, so the additional exercise definitely helps me.
But more than anything, the best thing that we parents can do for our children is to let them explore the world. They’re sponges ready for whatever knowledge and experiences the world can throw at them. Our participation in those experiences isn’t strictly necessary, but it helps the lessons stick.
Fencing is ultimately an individual sport, but it’s one that requires two individuals. That allows everyone to progress as individuals while still being a family experience when facing each other on the strip.
Fencing has been instrumental in deepening the father-son bond between Sean and Ethan. It can do the same for your family.