Fencing for children: Community club providing opportunities in north Edinburgh

If any sport seemed capable of flourishing even in a pandemic it was surely fencing. As top Edinburgh coach Ben Henley says, tongue in cheek: “There is a requirement, after all, to keep a distance (on the piste) and wear a mask!”

Edinburgh Sabre Club is growing in popularity
Edinburgh Sabre Club is growing in popularity

The reality, he acknowledges, is that fencing, like other sports, has had to re-build following shut-down but at Ben’s Edinburgh Sabre Club, operating out of South Trinity Scout Hall and Drummond High School, signs are encouraging.

“This is a community club in the North of Edinburgh offering a different sport that suits boys and girls. We are growing and have members from all sorts of backgrounds mostly aged between 10 and 14,” says Ben, adding: “We have had kids entering Scottish Youth Development competitions and winning medals after only fencing for a few weeks.”

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Ben’s own journey is one that took him from George Watson’s College where he first picked up the weapon where the edge and back of the blade are used to score register hits as opposed to the point in epee and foil, to a scholarship in Hungary, regarded as being to fencing what Japan is to judo.

Fencing coach Ben Hanley has competed at a high level

Returning, Ben won Scottish, British and Commonwealth titles, either individual or team, and reached No 4 in UK rankings. But now he is pouring energies into coaching. “I am building Edinburgh Sabre Club to be collaborative and inclusive."

And is sabre the most flamboyant of fencing disciplines? “Some might have the perception it is like being a Jedi master ; the reality is about discipline rather than swiping plus grace, balance and acceptance of scoring – for and against.”

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More info

For more information about Edinburgh Sabre Club [email protected]