Delta Fencing Center

STOCKTON - LIVERMORE   •   (209) 244-5836   •

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Frequently asked questions

About fencing

Our fencing classes


Fencing is an Olympic sport

In fact, fencing is one of the oldest Olympic sports. It is one of the only four sports that have been part in every Summer Olympic Games, since the birth of the modern Olympic movement in 1896.

Is fencing a martial art?

The term martial art has become heavily associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, but was originally used in regard to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. An English fencing manual of 1639 used the term in reference specifically to the "Science and Art" of swordplay. The term is ultimately derived from Latin, martial arts being the "Arts of Mars," the Roman god of war.

Some martial arts are considered 'traditional' and tied to an ethnic, cultural or religious background, while others are modern systems developed either by a founder or an association.

Is there a difference between theatrical fencing, SCA, Olympic fencing...?

Fencing, practiced through the centuries, always carried much tradition, honor, and chivalry. It inspired many, sometimes in different ways.

Theatrical fencing, for example, is meant to show strength, emotion, flamboyancy, passion, and chivalry. To be exciting for the audience, it is carefully choreographed, costumed, and often somewhat exaggerated.

Another popular type of fencing is so-called "historical fencing", practiced mostly as re-enactments of the sword fights of the times long gone, preserving old techniques, costumes, and weapons.

Olympic fencing is a modern sport based on physical strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, quick thinking and even quicker execution. At Delta Fencing Center we teach fencing based on most efficient thought on modern fencing, biomechanics, nutrition science, and sport psychology.

Does it hurt?

Not really. Sport fencing requires tightly regulated safety equipment, and at Delta Fencing Center we require its use at every class or training. Every fencer wears a fencing mask, under-plastron (protective clothing worn under jacket), fencing jacket, and fencing glove. Women and kids under 10 also have to wear chest protectors, and men protective cup. Beginners can take class in warmups, but competitive fencers have to wear regulation-required fencing knickers and knee-long socks.

Do you take total beginners?

Absolutely. In fact, most of our fencers came to us wanting to try fencing for the first time in their lives.

What equipment do I need for the class?

At Delta Fencing Center we provide all the equipment necessary for fencing classes. Our members are welcome to use the club equipment in class for as long as they want, free of charge. All you need is your own protective cup and knee-long socks. Come to classes in a t-shirt, a stretchy legwear covering whole leg, and sneakers (sport shoes - volleyball, tennis, or running shoes work the best).

Where do I buy fencing equipment?

Fencing is a relatively small sport, and common department stores and specialty sport stores do not carry anything related to fencing. About a dozen companies in the USA are selling fencing equipment, and about a half have a storefront. All have excellent web-stores. Talk to your coach about equipment - we'll be happy to help you choose the right equipment and figure out the right size. Look at our Store for equipment recommendations and for the discount code for purchasing from Blue Gauntlet, our favorite supplier.

My kid is only xx years old. Can (s)he join?

Boys and girls as young as 6 can learn fencing with us. Give us a call and come for the complimentary intro class to check out if fencing is the right sport for your kid.

I am a senior citizen. Am I too old to learn?

There is no such thing as "too old for fencing"! Currently our member with the most life experience is 61. Maja's first fencing coach, John DeCesare, retired at 99. Age group 70+ has recently been included into the World Cup competitions, and in the USA, 80+ is the newest fencing age group since 2017-18 season. We believe that since you are asking, you are apparently not too old. Come visit our class!

How long does it take to learn fencing?

Our beginners fencing course takes 16 classes, during which you'll learn the basics, and advance to the Intermediate Level. You can continue learning and improving your skills for as long as you want. We believe that it takes more than a lifetime, but we promise great experience all the way.

Would you mind if I train at another club too?

Short answer is: please don't. As with all the amateur sports, the line between recreational and competitive training is blured, and we'd prefer you don't carry over to other clubs the details about our trainings, or about strengths and weaknesses of our fencers, even if you attend our trainings "just recreationally". Also, different coaches sometimes have different approach to training you, and training at another club would, in all likelihood, interfere with your learning with us.

The USA Fencing has provision for "Secondary club" representation, but that option was intended for fencers who left for college, and who would like to keep their home club representation. Usually, the college club is represented as Primary, and the home club as Secondary.

In some cases, our fencers train at another club when certain very specific benefits are on the line. We are happy to make those arrangements when we believe they will benefit both you and our club. Please keep in mind you will not be able to keep training with us in case you attend trainings at another club or coach, without our approval, and without our agreement with the other club/coach.

Do men and women fence together?

At the national level, competitions are always gender-restricted; local and regional competitions are sometimes not, so look for designation "men's", "women's", or "mixed".

What are the competitive age groups?

Competitive age groups in US Fencing are (age is on Jan 1 of the current season):

Your "USA fencing age" is your age as of Jan 1 of the current season (fencing season, except for Cadets and Juniors, goes from Aug 1 to July 31 of the following year; Cadet and Junior season currently begins with the July North American Cup). The table, listing the age requirements is published in the Athlete's Handbook.

What are the competitive skill groups?

Typically, age-restricted competitions, like Y14, or Vet50, are not further restricted to a skill level. Senior competitions, however, are sometimes further restricted at local or regional competitions, to, say, "novice" (beginners), unrated, A, and similar. At National-level events, senior fencers are sub-divided into the following skill-level groups:

What is Rating? Is that the same as classification? How do I get one?

"Rating" or "classification", the term used interchangeably in the USA Fencing Athlete Handbook, is an indicator of a fencer's skill level. Ratings are A (the highest), B, C, D, E, and U (unrated). Ratings are awarded only at competitions sanctioned by the US Fencing Association. To get a rating you need to fence well at that particular competition, and competition itself needs to satisfy certain criteria. For instance, the winner of 6-participant competition earns E rating. To earn A rating, there has to be at least 15 fencers, at least 2 A, 2 B, 2 C; at least 2 As and two Bs need to finish in top-8... For the detailed list of ratings criteria, look at the USFA Classification Reference Chart in the current USA Fencing Athlete Handbook.

Youth competitions differ slightly - they do not award ratings until the competition satisfies at least C1 rating level.

What does "USFA-sanctioned competition" mean?

The competition is "USFA-sanctioned" if it has been approved by the US Fencing Association. Please ask the competition organizers if the competition is USFA-sanctioned or not. To compete in the USFA-sanctioned competition, you have to be a USFA member, you have to fence in complete regulation equipment, and strips have to be equipped with electronic scoring equipment. Some competitions are open to all USFA members, and some (qualifiers for Junior Olympics and for the National Championships in particular) are restricted to USFA members from a particular geographical region.

What is pre-registration?

Some competitions require that you register for competing by the established deadline. Deadlines typically range from a day ahead for local competitions, to a month or more prior to national events. Some organizers will let you register after the deadline for additional fee. Check in advance!

Which competitions require qualifying for?

To be eligible to compete in some competitions, most notably the Junior Olympics and the National Championships, you need to qualify (typically place in top 25% at the Divisional Qualifiers, although there are other options, too; for the details, look at the Qualifying Paths in the current USA Fencing Athlete Handbook).

When I compete, do I represent Delta Fencing Center?

All our members represent Delta Fencing Center as their primary club at workshops, clinics, and competitions, except if they have made special representing arrangement between their primary club and us. Those representing Delta Fencing Center at clinics, worshops, and competitions must wear our Patch on the fencing jacket unarmed sleeve, and must have their membership at the Delta Fencing Center current and in good standing.

If I go to a competition, will my coach go with me?

We do our best to be available to our athletes when they compete. If you are competing for the first time, participating in the competition requires your coach's approval; that will be a local or a lower-level regional competition, and we will be there to help you find your way around and to coach you, free of charge. Later, if you would like your coach's support, we will do our best to support you, but due to scheduling reasons, that is not always possible - you'll have to make arrangements with the Delta Fencing Center Head Coach in time. Standard coaching fees apply.

Each fencer pays coaching fee of $40 per event for local competitions (100 miles). For non-local events (those that require air travel and/or overnight stay), fencers are also covering coach's travel, lodging, and per diem expense; this can be shared between all the fencers going to the competition. For non-local competitions coaching fee is $100 per fencing day, or $200 per travel day for fencers under 18 who are under our care (not accompanied by a parent or guardian). To make sure we can really be with you while you fence, depending on the number of our fencers competing, we may send more than one coach. This decision is at the discretion of the Delta Fencing Center's coaching staff.

What does coaching at competitions include?

Your coach is with you through all the steps - pre-registration, weeks before the event, advice at the trainings prior to the tournament, check-in at the venue, equipment check, verifying the seeding, strip check-in, active technical and tactical advice during and between the bouts, help in case of rule infrigments and apeals, and post-tournament analysis and training advice.

To help yor coach cooach you effectively, we ask you to:

During the competition, you are expected to be dressed for fencing, or in warmups, according to your coaches advice. You are expected to have in your possesion at least two epees and two body cords in good working order. In case any of your equipment fails during the tournament, your coach will help you with minor repairs, or help you get a replacement equipment, within reason, without any additional charge.

When you are fencing, your coach may have an advice, but this is YOUR fencing bout; all the technical and tactical decisions are ultimately yours, and your coach will always expect, respect, and support that.

With or without your coach present at the cpompetition, please remember that you represent your club. Fence your best, stay a sportsmen at all times, be a gracious winner, and, if you loose, keep your dignity.


Fencing humor

`I didn't mind the strip layout. It seemed to allow for sabre fencers at one end and the non-yelling fencers at the other.`

Book of the Month

EPEE: Combat Manual

by Terence Kingston

Video in focus

2018 World Championship

Women's Epee Final