Beginners' Courses

What are Beginners' Courses?

The Beginners' Course is an eight week course run by Gwent Sword Club that will (hopefully!) prepare you to enter the club as a full member. You will be taught and coached on the basic techniques and conventions of fencing, providing you with sufficient knowledge to engage with the main class lessons and fence competently during 'free-play'.

Why does Gwent Sword Club run Beginners' Courses? There are a number of reasons we run Beginners' Courses rather than teaching individuals as they arrive:

  • Social - Many people find progressing and learning as part of a group much easier and more enjoyable. It also means people don't feel as intimidated  by taking lessons immediately with more advanced fencers.
  • Coaching - Coaching a group of beginners instead of individuals over a longer period, means that we can provide a more structured, comprehensive syllabus and devote more coaching time and resourses. It also allows us to make a proper assessment at the end of the course.
  • Practical - Obviously it makes thing far easier from an administrative point of view. Organising things like membership is quicker and easier.

What exactly will I be learning?

The syllabus is designed to cover all the major techniques you will require during your fencing career. Fencing doesn't have a vast number of techniques (such as many other martial arts), the majority of your training will consist of perfecting these techniques and learning how and when to use them. It is for this reason that people who teach fencing are generally referred to as Coaches, not Instructors.

This is a basic summary of what we will aim to cover with you. Keep in mind this is not a definitive list and the syllabus may be modified to better suit a group or individual.

Movements and Stances

  • On Guard
  • Stepping
  • Ballestra
  • Fleche
  • Reprise

Attacking Actions

  • Lunges
  • Beat Attacks
  • Compound Attacks

Defensive Actions

  • Parries from Guard in Sixte (Quarte, Counter Sixte, Octave)
  • Counter Parries on the Lunge
  • Successive Parries


How old/young/fit do I need to be?

We don't generally take anybody below the age of 11 onto our courses. Fencing requires a high level of concentration and commitment, while at the same time requires individuals to act responsibly to ensure everyone's safety.

There is however, no upper age limit and we have a number of more senior members who regularly show everyone how fencing 'really' done. In terms of fitness fencing is pretty unique: While it can make a difference and being fitter than your opponent is still an advantage, it is far less significant than technical ability. Fencing can be both very energetic and a great workout, or relatively relaxing and sedate depending on the style you adopt.

Of course, should you have any medical condition that may affect you during fencing you need to make a coach aware of this and seek their advice before taking part.

Is it expensive?

No, the full eight week course costs just £35 for children, OAPs or students and £45 for adults. This price includes:

  • Use of all equipment
  • Membership of Gwent Sword Club for the remainder of the year
  • Coaching from our Team, qualified under the WFA and BAF
  • (please note that an additional fee, which includes insurance, is payable to British Fencing - for details and a link, see the home page). This follows a restructure of membership options by British Fencing and to avoid additional costs must be completed online.

Once you have passed the course you will be eligible to be a full member of Gwent Sword Club. Fees will then be paid per two-hour session you attend, £6 (£5 for current members) for adults, £5 (£4) for under-18s, full-time students and over-65s.

Fencing is a safe activity when conducted properly but please note that, as with all sports, there is an element of risk. While Gwent Sword Club and its governing bodies strive to minimise that risk, to fence with us you are deemed to have accepted that element of risk and the club will not be held responsible for any accident or injury provided it has acted properly as set out by the club's and sport's rules and codes.

Whom do I need to contact?

Contact Carl Difford at diffordsatvirginmedia [dot] com or call Carl on 01633 855751 for further details or to book your place on our next course.