3rd grade boy first fencing lesson Boston

My Son’s First Fencing Lesson

My son and his third grade buddies have been taking tennis lessons since school started. Now that it’s too cold to play outdoors, they decided to switch to fencing. There is something about little boys and swordplay — my son  has been wielding a stick as a sword since he was old enough to toddle.

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We are lucky to have two great fencing schools nearby. My mom friend Gwen did the research and we ended up at Fencing Academy of Boston in Watertown. There is another one in Waltham that PickyKidPix‘s friend Griffin fences at, but for some reason — most likely due to scheduling — she chose this one. The boys really like their instructor, Vitaliy Nazarenko, who owns the school.

3rd grader first fencing lesson

This is his bio:

Vitaliy Nazarenko is a native of the Ukraine and has 35 years of fencing experience. He graduated from the Lviv University of Physical Culture and has earned the International Master of Sport in saber fencing. He is also an accomplished foil fencer and coach.

While an active saber fencer, Vitaliy won the Ukrainian and USSR national championships multiple times and was a member of a fencing team that won the silver medal in the European Championship.

Vitaliy has been a coach for over 20 years, serving as Head Coach in several Greater Boston Area fencing clubs as well as saber coach for the Harvard University fencing team before opening Fencing Academy of Boston in 2012.

What the bio doesn’t convey is how wonderful Vitaliy is with children! He’s cheerful and encouraging and everything is presented as a fun game! Even when he makes corrections, he does it in a positive way that make the kids feel good about themselves. I think this is a special gift!

I don’t have any experience with fencing so I didn’t know what to expect from my son’s first lesson. For the first five minutes, the boys played a game called where one boy is a monster and the other three go after it with their foam swords. This is what I thought a beginning fencing lesson would look like!

By the end of the hour, the boys actually look like they are fencing! What a difference an hour makes! I was really surprised by their progress!!

During that hour, their instructor showed the boys the proper form for the lunge which is used for an attack, as well as basic footwork to go forwards and back.

first fencing lesson for third grade boys

Fencing: Lunge Form

Here, they are learning a foot drill.

They are ready to suit up now. It’s a complex process in which they are first fitted for an undergarment that covers their sword shoulder. Next, they put on a white jacket. The white jacket that also covers their groin area (to their great amusement!). The final layer is an outer jacket fitted with an electrical tracking system that can tell when your opponent makes contact. When this  happens, a light at either end of the fencing lane lights up to signal a point. They also wear a metal helmet and are fitted with foils.

first fencing lesson for third grade boys

This is the second layer of the fencing  uniform. One more to go!

This outer layer also has a long electrical cord that allows them to move up and down the lane while being plugged in. They remind me of fencing trolley cars!

first fencing lesson for third grade boys

The last layer is wired to an electrical tracking device.

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Now my son is ready to go! He just needs to be plugged in!

3rd grade fencing uniform

Each boy is wired and plugged into a electric cord.

Fencing has a history of being a gentleman’s sport so proper etiquette is important. The boys learn to salute each other both before they and after they spar. After they go through this sword etiquette facing each other, they meet and shake hands.

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What did the boys think of fencing? They loved it! My son who is a night owl and dreads getting up early, actually wakes up eagerly for an early morning lesson!!

3rd grade boy first fencing lesson Boston

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Wonderful! Between this and the archery, he is definitely going to be ready to inherit the kingdom! (Your son has a lovely lunge!)
    Asakiyume recently posted…An interview with Ann LeckieMy Profile

  2. That’s great, that he is happy to get up early for fencing! I was friends with a couple of fencers in college.
    maryanne recently posted…Kids and Pets: Looking After a GeckoMy Profile

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      The early mornings on Sunday were killing us. Luckily, we were able to switch the time to Friday afternoons and that has been better for both the driver and the non early bird boys like my son.

      I’m not sure if my son will pursue fencing but so far he likes “soccer the most by 25%.” He’s very specific. (and he’s dictating to me, as I type.)
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…My Son’s First Fencing LessonMy Profile

  3. I took a 30-45 min. fencing class at a school 30 minutes to 1 hour away. It was fun. I found out fencing is nothing like the movies! 😀
    Erik ThisKidReviewsBooks recently posted…Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush by Marcy Winograd and Jackie HirtzMy Profile

  4. Christy

    The electrical cord looks so hilarious! I was sitting and staring at your top picture trying to figure out what it was until finally I gave up and read down, and thankfully you explained it. My younger brother took fencing for a bit, but I don’t think his fencing classes were set up with that.

    I hope your kids continue to have a great time with it.
    Christy recently posted…A Dozen Ways to use a Bagful of Buttons as an Educational ToolMy Profile

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