Beginners look here for the latest posts.

HEMA – is it safe?

Messengers class training longswordStudying historical combat techniques with heavy weapons is rewarding and fun, but, like most other martial arts, inherently risky. We all have proper jobs to go back to, families to look after, bills to pay; things that are difficult enough without the added burden of trips to A&E, bandages, splints, crutches and the long-lasting effects of concussion (genuinely no laughing matter). We are not 24/7 Medieval or Renaissance warriors. This is a hobby more than a lifestyle choice. …

New to Fencing: Start Here

What is fencing?

Fencers on pisteModern fencing is a martial art derived from older forms of duelling with swords. The objective is to hit your opponent without being hit yourself. Modern fencing is a competitive form that emulates a duel – the weapons are blunt and a secondary objective after winning the bout is not to injure anyone. Read more…

The fencing experience – a newcomers’ guide

LSFC club sessionBefore you even walk into any fencing club or tournament, you’ll hear the bright sound of clashing steel. This is both combat martial art and sport.

The modern sport of fencing has three different events: foil, epée and sabre, each with its own history, target area and rules. The goal in all three weapons is to hit the opponent on the valid target area without being hit yourself… Read more…

Fencing: Does it hurt?

Catling - epee competitionNot if done properly. Although executed at speed, a good, clean fencing attack hurts no more than a tap on the shoulder. The force of the blow is normally absorbed by the flex of the blade. Reckless and overly aggressive fencers can occasionally deliver painful blows, however. Fencing *is* a martial art, so you should expect minor bruises and welts every now and again. They are rarely intentional. The most painful blows tend to come from inexperienced fencers who have not yet acquired the feel of the weapon. Read more…

Safety First

Epee maskFencing is a safe sport. Regulation equipment conforming to safety standards and common sense fencing helps to maintain our good safety record. Read more…

Where next?

If that has piqued your interest, try the following posts:

Thinking of starting fencing?

What is the Beginners Fencing Course?

Beginners' courseWest Devon Swords runs a number of beginners’ courses.

The beginners course is designed for people who are interested in learning to fence but have no experience. It is a basic introduction to either foil, épée or sabre fencing.

Students will be assessed at the end of the course and signed off at the equivalent of British Fencing Grade One, mostly as a safety measure to ensure all beginners are safe to release into the club sessions.

Beginners Course Syllabus

The six-week beginners course follows the following syllabus:


  • To introduce complete newcomers to the modern sport of fencing
  • By the end of the course beginners should be able to successfully achieve BFA Foil, Epee or Sabre Level 1
  • To ensure that beginners have the knowledge and skills to become full club members
  • To have fun!

A revised syllabus will be published here soon.

If you continue fencing, you have the option to compete at local and regional level in fencing tournaments.

Fencing: where, when, how much?

OCRA fencing and Holiday SchemeWest Devon Swords holds beginners’ courses through the year as well as other displays and demonstrations

Our typical six-week beginners course in épée or sabre is held in a local sports centre or community hall and usually costs: £30 for  Juniors (up to 16 years and registered students) and and £36 for Adults.

To register:

call: 07956 409818



When can I start fencing?

OCRA Summer SchoolWhether you are six or sixty-four (we’ve had beginners at those and all ages between), you can start fencing at any time.

Experienced fencers can join our club sessions at any time, please contact us in advance to confirm venues and times.

We regularly run beginners courses for people who are interested in learning to fence but have no experience. Please check this site for dates and times of the next beginners course (usually once per half-term).

At the end of the six-week course every beginner is assessed to Grade One standard as fit and safe to continue fencing within the club.

What do I wear for fencing?

Masterclass - footworkWear suitable clothing as for any kind of anaerobic sport. That means:

  • Trainers (not outdoor shoes) with some grip
  • Loose-fitting trousers (not tight denims or shorts); you need the legs covered, but you also need to stretch and bend
  • Any top will do as long as you can get a fencing jacket over it. Crop tops are not recommended as fencing jackets sometimes ride up and expose skin at the sides
  • Bear in mind that fencing is a sport which involves layers of safety clothing and you WILL sweat even in winter!

Think about bringing a towel, a change of clothes and even a drinks bottle.

The club reserves the right to turn away anyone dressed inappropriately for fencing.