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Information

 

 

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 of the 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.

 

Purpose

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.

 

 

Open 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:

  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2220439134/


Club membership (not required for students in the beginning class) is $30 per year.

The 2015 fee schedule is as follows:

$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 members.

$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.

 

Epee Fencing


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 Championships.

 

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” section above.

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 Links 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.


 

 

For Parents

 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.

 Over-attention, 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 self-motivation.

 

The 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 membership.

 

 

Individual Instruction

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 business.

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.

 

 

Clinics

 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 consecutive Saturdays. 

  

Historical Fencing

On occasion we run two-hour instructional clinics in historical fencing, primarily in the smallsword and broadsword/backsword/saber/cutlass.

 

 

 

Demonstrations


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 directly.

 

Inquiries

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.

 

Directions

From I-65/565:

Exit onto 231/431 South (Memorial Parkway).

Take the Bob Wallace Ave. Exit (West)

Second building on the left past the first light.

Club access is in the parking lot behind

the main office.

Map to 2319 Bob Wallace Ave.

 

Copyright © 2004 Huntsville Fencing Club. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 26, 2017