Officers and Affiliations
The Huntsville Fencing Club was
originally established in 1971 as an outgrowth of the M.A.R.S. Fencing Club
founded by NASA engineers in 1963. The club has been under its current
direction since January 2000. Our officers include co-directors Mike Greene, Benerson
Little, and Rob Parks; instructor Benerson Little;
secretary-treasurer Geoffrey Babb; and armorer Dave Young. As always, our
officers are ably assisted by the rest of the membership.
The Huntsville Fencing Club is a member
United States Fencing Association (USFA), the governing body of modern
fencing in the United States. The USFA is a member of both the
United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the
Federation Internationale d’Escrime (FIE), the international governing
body of competitive fencing.
To provide a local venue for
recreational and competitive fencers of all levels at the lowest reasonable
cost and free of unnecessary encumbrances; to promote the sport of Olympic
fencing at the recreational and competitive levels, especially epee fencing;
to maintain the traditions of honorable combat with swords; to encourage the
study of swordplay, past and present; to provide affordable quality
beginning instruction and individual lessons; to minimize the
administrative, logistical, and financial requirements associated with
fencing; and, especially, to encourage an atmosphere of competitive
camaraderie. The benefits of fencing go far beyond exercise and
competition—we consider the historical and swashbuckling connections, the
social atmosphere, the lifelong process of learning to fence, and the sheer
fun of fencing to be just as important, or more so.
Fencing and Membership
We practice at
2319 Bob Wallace Ave. Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from
7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are welcome.
Please check our club facebook
page for recently occurring changes and information:
Club membership (not required for students in the beginning class) is $30
The 2015 fee schedule is as
$30 yearly membership fee. This fee is due in August for existing members
and goes toward our USFA insurance, any remainder toward rent. This fee is
pro-rated for new members.
$35 per month to fence at every practice (three per week), pro-rated for new
$25 per month to fence at two practices per week, pro-rated for new members
For families, the first member is charged as above, with additional family
members charged at $15 per month.
Fencers who complete a beginning class will fence for free for the first
month after completion, and at a fifty percent rate for the next month. For
fencers who have completed our most recent class (ending this past
December), January is free and February will be half price.
$8 per practice for drop-in fencers. (This fee is waved for the first visit
by a visiting out-of-the-area fencer.)
$7 per individual lesson scheduled with Ben. This is an optional fee;
lessons are not required for membership. Our lesson fee is a third to a
fourth that of most clubs: we keep this fee low in order to make lessons
accessible to all fencers.
For your convenience you can
Pay Online Here
Please note that all required annual and monthly fees go entirely into the
club treasury, and are used solely to pay our rent, insurance, new equipment
and equipment repair, and associated expenses. Beginning class, lesson, and
clinic fees go part to the instructor and part to the club.
If you have any questions regarding the new fee structure, please contact
our treasurer, Geoffrey Babb.
A USFA Membership is also required in order to maintain our insurance, but
need only be at the $5 level. These are the only required fees, and, other
than the USFA Membership fee, are used entirely to pay club expenses such as
rent and the purchase and maintenance of club equipment. The HFC is not a
business, thus we are able to keep our fees exceptionally low as compared to
many other fencing clubs.
A waiver of liability is
required for all members and visiting fencers.
Members of other clubs are welcome to fence with us, with caveats noted as
follows. Fencers from other local area clubs should inquire first via email.
All visiting fencers who intend to train with us routinely must become
associate members. With the exceptions of out-of-state or long distance
visiting fencers, members of HFC-associated clubs and programs, and fencers
whose primary membership is a collegiate program, we do not provide
instruction to members of other clubs. Likewise, with the exceptions of
fencers whose primary membership is a collegiate program or HFC-associated
club, we discourage dual membership in the HFC and any other local area
club. Any such dual membership must be approved in advance. As necessary to
preserve the traditions, camaraderie, good order, and discipline of the HFC,
we reserve the right to deny or revoke membership or visiting privileges.
The HFC is by and large an epee club, with only a handful of fencers who
have ever actively fenced foil other than in a beginning class, or saber.
This is due in part to recent changes in foil and saber that have
significantly altered their character, and in part to the number of
experienced epeeists who have made the club their home over the last fifteen
years. The technique and rules interpretations of foil and saber remain in
flux and are being driven by the FIE’s need to make fencing more popular to
a television audience in order to keep the sport alive as an Olympic event.
Given this unfortunate present state, many fencers now prefer the complex
simplicity of the epee as opposed to the now highly subjective, overly
convoluted, and often arbitrary-seeming refereeing of the modern form of the
other two weapons. Further, the associated recent descent of foil and saber
from “combat swordplay as sport” into pure sport has put many older foil and
saber fencers off.
Epee, however, has remained more or less
unchanged since the advent of electrical scoring some seventy-five years
ago, and little changed from epee fencing of a century ago. It is the weapon
most similar to the swordplay and conditions of the duel, and is the most
“democratic” of the three weapons, in that the weaker fencer always stands a
better chance of winning against a stronger fencer than in foil and saber.
Epee also permits a wide variety of styles and has the largest body of
technique, even though many epeeists keep their game simple. All of the
forgoing has led to epee become the most popular of the three weapons. The
old belief among many fencing instructors that epeeists must be tall has
been repeatedly disproved, including at the Olympics and World
Instruction in General
We offer group instruction in beginning
fencing, as well as individual instruction in epee primarily, although foil
and saber lessons are also available. We also occasionally run clinics in
footwork, technique, tactics, and weapon repair, and for diversion we
occasionally offer clinics in historical fencing, specifically the
smallsword and backsword/broadsword/saber/cutlass.
Students may begin learning to fence at
almost any age, and we have had many students begin in their forties,
fifties, and sixties. However, we seldom instruct students under the age of
twelve, as fencing does require a minimum level of physical and
psychological development, and most youth under twelve, no matter how
bright, athletic, or enthusiastic, do not meet this requirement. We do not
want to see a young student’s enthusiasm diminish in the face of the
physical and mental discipline fencing requires. As long as the student is
reasonably able, we have no upper age limit.
We do not offer individual instruction
to beginners with no fencing experience. Instead, we require that all
students who have never fenced before first take a thorough beginning class.
Only then will we offer the student individual lessons.
Regarding instruction to
members of other fencing clubs, see the “Open Fencing and Membership”
The club instructors and co-directors are
Benerson Little and Mike Greene. Beginning class instruction and most
individual lessons are provided by Benerson Little. Ben has been fencing for
thirty-five years and teaching fencing for fifteen. He originally studied
under world-class Hungarian fencers and masters Dr. Francis Zold and Dr.
Eugene Hamori (see
Page), and is mentored as an instructor by Dr. Hamori. Although Ben has had
instruction in all three weapons and has competed in all as well, he is
primarily an epee fencer, with a strong associated background in what today
is considered modern classical foil. Ben is a Professional Member of the
USFA, a longtime student of fencing history and theory, and also trains in
and instructs various historical swordplay. Outside of fencing, he is a
historian, maritime analyst, published author, historical consultant to the
film and television industry, and former Navy SEAL. Mike has been
fencing for twenty years and has been involved with the Huntsville Fencing
Club in some administrative capacity for nearly as long. Mike is a
member of the USFA and a student of fencing history and club historian.
A polite word of warning, to parents
especially: if you are looking for a club where hand-holding is the norm,
this is not the place for you. Although we offer thorough instruction and
are always willing to assist fencers, we have neither the time nor the
philosophical inclination to engage in excessive hand-holding of fencers or,
for that matter, their parents. Club members of any age must be
self-motivated. They alone are responsible for attending fencing sessions,
engaging in free fencing, seeking out instruction if they want it, and, if
they choose, attending competitions.
while it obviously makes good business sense for some clubs, is ultimately
counter-productive. It wrongly teaches fencers to rely on their instructors
rather than upon themselves, thus denying them the greatest lesson that
fencing teaches, that of self-reliance under pressure. The traditions and
forms of modern fencing originated with the 19th century duel, in which
adversaries had to rely solely on themselves while engaged in combat. We
strongly believe in and encourage the values of self-reliance and
Beginning Fencing Class
Beginning Fencing is an eight session class (sixteen total hours of
instruction) designed to provide the beginner with practical ability in the
basic skills necessary for free fencing. Course material is based largely on
classical foil technique suited to epee and on epee technique itself. Safety
is emphasized. The course also provides the novice fencer with a working
knowledge of the traditions, courtesies, and rules of fencing followed
worldwide. Fencing is physical, psychological, and intellectual, and no
other sport has a history as rich and colorful.
We provide all necessary equipment
(foil, mask, glove, and jacket). Students must wear comfortable clothing,
preferably athletic, and athletic shoes. Sweat pants or similar clothing
must cover the legs: shorts do not adequately protect the legs from
inadvertent thrusts or hits. Court shoes or cross trainers are preferred
over running shoes, but are not mandatory.
We mix youth and adult fencers in the
same class; we do not run separate youth classes. As noted above, students
must be twelve years or older, although we can make exceptions for students
as young as ten years old. The decision is the instructor’s.
Course dates are posted on this website
at least two weeks in advance, and are often determined only two to four
weeks prior to the start date. We typically run three beginning courses per
year, although we may run as many as five or as few as two. Course dates are
determined by the instructor's schedule. Classes run on Saturdays, noon to 2
p.m. Pre-registration is not required, but please contact us in advance so
we have a rough idea of likely class size. The class fee is $100, payable
not later than the end of the second class. Students are not required to
join the HFC during the class, nor pay floor fees. Membership in the
Athletic Club Alabama is not required for the classes nor for HFC
We also offer individual lessons in
epee, foil (classical and modern), and Hungarian saber, although epee
lessons overwhelmingly predominate. Lessons are usually available Fridays
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., subject to the
instructor’s availability. Our goal is to promote the sport of fencing, thus
our rates ($7 per 20 minute lesson) are very reasonable; we are not a
The instructor determines the lesson
order among students and makes no distinction between competitors and purely
recreational fencers. This ensures that all fencers who want lessons have an
equal opportunity to get them.
The instructor does not offer “private”
lessons—that is, lessons not associated with his duties as instructor at the
HFC—to students at any level. All students must be members of the HFC.
We occasionally hold periodic clinics
(1) for former fencers who wish to begin fencing again but are perhaps too
rusty to jump right back in, (2) for current fencers who desire additional
instruction in footwork, technique, or tactics, and (3) for those who wish
to learn more about weapon repair and care. Clinic dates are determined as
required, and typically consist of one or two two-hour sessions on
On occasion we run two-hour
instructional clinics in historical fencing, primarily in the smallsword and
Time and fencers permitting, we occasionally run fencing demonstrations
as a public service. We conduct these demonstrations solely in response to
requests; we do not solicit organizations for permission to run them.
Although we will always answer questions about the HFC, not to mention
strongly promote the sport of fencing, we do not actively use demonstrations
as a recruiting opportunity. Not only will you not get an HFC sales pitch,
there would be no point: we are not a business. We believe that people
interested in learning to fence will take the initiative to contact us
If you are interested in taking classes,
arranging for lessons, attending a clinic, or scheduling a demonstration,
use the email address on the Contact Us page and we'll gladly get back to
you with the required information. Please understand that our officers have
lives outside of fencing and may not be able to get back to you immediately.
If you do not hear from us within a week at most, please re-send your email.
On occasion, emails get mis-routed or our contact person may be unavailable
for short periods.