“Lunge, recover, retreat, and advance,” yells a group of eager students in the W building. No, there isn’t a war happening on campus. The students are participating in warm-up exercises in one of PCC’s fencing classes.
“The warm-ups are primarily for stretching, but since this is a PE class, I want them to get some cardio too,” says course instructor Daryl Taylor.
For those not familiar with fencing, it is the activity of fighting with swords in a competitive manner. Most people associate competitive fencing with the Summer Olympics.
“I saw Olympic fencing on television and decided that I wanted to try it,” said Khalil Jammal, a neuroscience major taking part in Coach Taylor’s fencing class.
Jammal said that he enjoys the class and would recommend it to any student looking to fill their PE requirement.
“It’s great if you’re looking for something fun and energetic,” he said. “Once you learn the basics, it becomes second nature and it’s really fun.”
The class begins with various drills. And then as the semester progresses, students get the chance to spar with each other using weapons from all three fencing categories: foil, sabre, and epee.
“For the first part of the semester, we work on drills and positioning,” said Taylor. “I want to teach them a lot of the fundamental elements of fencing.”
“But at this point in the term, I just let them go at it,” he added.
The program provides the students with jackets, masks and weapons. The only thing the students have to purchase for themselves are the gloves.
Taylor says that the college is adding more fencing classes, starting in the fall term, to meet the demand of students wanting to take it.
“It’s pretty unique for a community college to have fencing classes,” said Taylor. Some four year colleges don’t even offer fencing.”
Students who take the class seem to have a lot of fun.
“I’ve been trying to get into this class for years, but it was always full,” said David Quezada, philosophy. “This semester, I was lucky enough to get in because my registration was sooner.”
Quezada said that taking the class has improved his conditioning and he also praised the instructor for the level of seriousness he brings to the experience.
“Our instructor is actually a professional fencer, so we’re getting the top training and we are getting every dollar’s worth with this class,” he said.
Taylor said that the sport of fencing is not only a great physical activity, but there is also a mental aspect to the competition.
“There is a lot of strategy involved,” said Taylor. “This is a sport where you have to watch your opponent, learn their tendencies and try to form a strategy based on that.”
There is a social aspect as well. Fencing is a sport where you get to know a lot of your opponents.
“Fencing helps improve your concentration, because you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings,” said Heidi Hong, medical assisting. “I would recommend fencing because it’s fun, you bond with the other people in the class and you get a great workout.”
In addition to offering fencing courses, PCC also has a Fencing Club that meets on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.