GREENSBORO, N.C. – The North Carolina Fencing Divisionals were hosted this past weekend at UNCG’s Kaplan Center. Around seven or eight clubs from around North Carolina were present, and here around thirty to forty combatants on the Saturday, when the Carolinian was there.
Held in the Multi Activity Court (MAC), the tournament was spread across four strips and a single referee stood to the side. The scoring was done in a manner that the swords that the combatants were using had electronic sensors in their vests and swords. This appeared to be useful, as sometimes the combatants get extremely close, and it was very hard to tell who was stabbing who.
The fencing itself was quite eloquent, appearing almost as a dance instead of competition. The skill and the precision needed by the combatants was obvious. One particular gentleman, with ‘“Cui, USA’” written on his back was one of the first fights. While he was small in stature, his aggression and precision was enough to win him the match. His opponent seemed perplexed by his footwork. With every point he howled a victorious “Yo!” that echoed dramatically throughout the MAC. One thing to note was there was not so much of an age grouping of say, under 21s, or under 30s. It seemed as though that the age groups were mixed.
The next match occurred on the next Piste over. The match seemed to be a close affair, with the two men often entangling themselves next to each other, and as a result, attempting to stab one another behind each other’s backs. It was fascinating to watch. The match was split into two halves, and one of the fencers switched swords halfway through. Towards the end of the match, the fencer who was in the lead seemed to realize the sort of calm that he needed to win. The trailing fencer was clearly losing his cool, so to speak. Frustration was getting to him. At the end of the match, which he subsequently lost, he threw his gear to the side, and the clatter of defeat echoed in the MAC. Resigned, he sat down, where his dad, also a participant, tried to reconcile him to no avail. One of the referees looked on, with disappointment in his face.
Andrew, a UNC student, fencer and the referee of the first game mentioned, talked about the growing sport of fencing in North Carolina.
“Yeah when I started about six years ago, there was less people. Now there seems to be an abundance of young people interested in the sport.”
When asked about the shouting from the fencer, he said that that was a fairly regular occurrence, and at the intercollegiate fencing, the halls are just full of non-stop shouting from points scored. He also explained the sport:
“So we have three types of sword fighting – epee, foil and saber. With the epee you can only hit the chest – the grey area’ Andrew explained. ‘Here we have five or six, maybe seven or eight clubs here from across the state. This is a pretty normal size tournament.”
Zemi, the tournament organizer and North Carolina Division Chair. spoke excitedly t about the benefits of hosting in the Kaplan Center.
“So we picked this venue through some of the local club students here that we’ve known throughout the years’ Zemi explained. ‘We really like the facility, and it’s a facility that we’d like to come back to. It’s a really nice facility, and the people here are great. One of the things we like about it is that there isn’t much of an echo in here like there is in other gymnasiums…we’re definitely coming back here.”
It was very apparent that the MAC was living up to its name – just two weeks ago, and continually, the intramural soccer tournaments take place in the MAC. This week is fencing – and the following week, Zemi informed the Carolinian that another, larger tournament will be hosted by UNCG in the Kaplan Center.