There is a saying that it takes two lifetimes to master fencing. By the time anyone has come close to “mastering” the sport, they are long past their athletic prime. Some may feel that this is a drawback to the sport, but most fencers see it as a great strength: fencing never becomes dull or routine; there are always new skills to master, and new grounds to conquer.
A dedicated novice who practices twice per week will be ready to try low-level competition in 3-6 months. Competition at this point should be viewed as a learning aid, not as a dedicated effort to win.
Serious attempts at competing will be possible after 2-3 years, when the basic skills have been sufficiently mastered that the mind is free to consider strategy.
A moderate level of skill can take 3-5 years of regular practice and competition.
Penetration of the elite ranks (eg. world cup, A classification) demands three to five days per week of practice and competition, and usually at least 10-15 years of experience.
Progress can be faster or slower, depending on the fencer’s aptitude, dedication, and quality of instruction. Rapid progress normally requires at least three practices per week, and regular competition against superior fencers.
The average world champion is in his late 20s to early 30s and began fencing as a child.