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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The last layer is wired to an electrical tracking device.
Now my son is ready to go! He just needs to be plugged in!
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.
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!!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.