Fencing has been around for centuries but has yet to reach the level of popularity of other sports. You wouldn’t know it stepping into Triple Threat Fencing Academy in Indian Trail, where world-renowned coaches are sharing their skills and new students are joining every day.
The fencing club has been at 130 B K-Line Drive off Old Monroe Road for over 20 years, albeit under a different name and ownership.
When the original club closed last year, a small group of parents agreed to take over the lease and clean up the space so their kids could continue fencing. Among those were Chris Bernard and his wife, Amy. Their 13-year-old son, Bodin, has been fencing for five years. Their 11-year-old daughter, Kate, picked up the sport three years ago.
The club draws its students from Union County, Matthews, Mint Hill, Ballantyne and south Charlotte – areas that are currently underserved when it comes to fencing academies. Had parents not kept the club going, Chris Bernard said many of the students would have been faced with giving up the sport altogether.
“There was really nothing else for them down here and for some of these kids, fencing is all they do,” he said.
Bernard began learning to fence shortly after opening Triple Threat Fencing. It didn’t take him long to realize why his children love it so much.
“As an adult, it’s one of those sports where you pick up the weapon and you think, ‘I wish I would have known about this as a kid,’” he said.
During a fencing match – called a bout – fencers compete one-on-one with bladed weapons. Each fencer tries to score on their opponent by touching them with their weapon, while also trying to avoid being touched by their opponent’s weapon.
The name Triple Threat Fencing is a nod to the three weapons used in modern fencing: the foil, the épée and the saber.
The foil is a light thrusting weapon that targets the torso. Points are scored only when the tip touches the opponent.
The épée is like the foil, but heavier. The entire body is a valid target and all hits must be with the tip of the blade. Bernard thinks épée is the most strategic of the three.
“You’re baiting your opponent into doing something, setting them up and then taking advantage,” he said.
The saber is a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, except the hands. Unlike the others, hits with the entire blade and tip count.
The weapons are not sharp, but for safety reasons fencers wear full protective clothing and a metal mesh mask during bouts. They also wear a body cord that connects to an electronic scoring device that detects when a weapon touches an opponent.
Triple Threat Fencing offers foil, saber and épée classes taught by top fencers and coaches from around the world.
Épée coach Dmitry Krupp has coached competitive fencing at the highest levels of international competition and holds a Master of Sports in Fencing, the highest coaching classification. A native of Ukraine, Krupp has worked with many top fencers and coaches, including two-time U.S. National Team Fencer Alexander Abend. Krupp also coached at the Ukraine Olympic Training Center.
Sean Givens is nationally rated in all three weapons, but teaches foil at Triple Threat Fencing. He has competed at a national level and medaled at national tournaments.
Saber coach Boris Khurgin will join Triple Threat Fencing in November. Khurgin started fencing in 1971 and coached at the Fencing School of Olympic Reserve in Ukraine. He was a national men’s saber coach at the 2008 Junior and Cadet World Championships in Italy and coached at several academies in New York, including Manhattan Fencing Center where the U.S. Men’s Saber Olympic Team trains.
Classes at Triple Threat are for students ages 8 and up and at all levels. They are held in the evenings Monday through Thursday and during the day on Saturdays. Students learn the fundamentals of fencing, as well as footwork, technique, balance, reflex, hand-eye coordination, hand speed and how to lunge. Protective clothing and weapons are constantly sanitized, but students are encouraged to bring their own if they can.
Bernard said there are many benefits to fencing. For starters, it’s physical. Fencers expel spurts of energy when they lunge to score, working their arms and legs.
“By the end of class tonight, these kids will be drenched and they’ll be huffing and puffing,” Bernard said.
It’s also cerebral, as winning a bout relies heavily on strategy.
“It’s watching your opponent and reacting and planning your moves,” Bernard said. “It’s really a mental chess game.”
“It’s perfect for kids who don’t necessarily gravitate toward one of the standard sports,” he added.
Unlike soccer, basketball and football, fencing is a niche sport. Bernard said it’s often easier for fencers to stand out and receive college scholarships.
Plus, it’s safe for those worried about COVID-19, Bernard said.
“When you’re fencing, you’re kind of naturally distanced because you’ve got the mask on and you’re six feet apart,” he said. “This is a great way to get out into a safe environment and into physical activity.”
Learn to fence
Call 704-996-0819 or email email@example.com to schedule a free trial class at Triple Threat Fencing, located at 130 B K-Line Drive in Indian Trail. Visit www.triplethreatfencing.com for more information.