Don’t let James Bond movies fool you – there is much more involved in fencing than just British gents thrusting at each other with weapons of which Freud would be only too happy to explain symbolic significance. Just watching the fencing club practice here at the UR is proof positive that you need more than just an over-bloated ego to pick up a foil, epee or saber – the Club practices with all three – to begin attacking, reposting and parrying like 007 himself. In fact, a few UR fencers could probably give ol’ James a run for his money. Let me throw out a statistic – the United States Fencing Association, or USFA for short, rates only seven percent of fencers nationwide on a scale of A, the very best, to E, the best. One third of the UR fencing club members are ranked. Top players include team captain, club president and junior Mark Washburn, rated E in epee; senior Eric Dudley, who is an E in foil; and senior Darius Wei, who also acts as coach and is rated in all three weapons. Add the 30 returning veterans, several nationally recognized referees and 30 enthusiastic newcomers together and you have the makings for one impressive fencing team. “We’ve got a lot of good fencers this year and they are all constantly improving,” Washburn said. “We should have a terrific year.” Great teams start with lots of preparation and the UR fencers follow a rigorous schedule. Practices are held four times a week at Spurrier Gymnasium from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The team encourages anyone who is interested to come by on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as those days have been specifically designed to help beginners, for some introductory lessons with the team and coaches. The Fencing Club trains year-round and has already met up with other fencers from upstate New York at an informal get-together at Syracuse Musketeers Fencing Center. In both fall and spring the team hosts a tournament at UR, and though the fall competition has not yet been scheduled, I will keep you posted as to when it will take place. It is amazing how UR has become a locus for talented fencers – not only are the students here skilled at their sport, but local Rochester resident Gabe Sibkin served as second alternate to the Men’s Foil Olympic Team. With all their practice and hard work, who knows what might be in store for the UR fencers, but for now they will settle for the opportunity to just keep playing such a challenging sport.Anyone with questions about club fencing should attend a practice session or e-mail Washburn at can be reached at

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