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About the Club

The club began in 2004 as the Santa Barbara Youth Fencers. We rented space at Studio E in the Funk Zone and later moved to the YMCA. In 2006 we leased a larger space and changed our namesake to identify as an outpost for sport fencing in the Santa Barbara area.

From 2011-2019, we also helped with Presidio North in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Post Pandemic, most Presidio fencers are recreational athletes, coming to practices to break a sweat. A few of us travel to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and elsewhere in the country for competition.

Fencing is a great sport for athletes in middle school and high school. Upon graduation, our young fencers have gone on to compete at various NCAA and Collegiate Clubs.

Tim Robinson

Tim Robinson is the founding coach of Presidio Fencing Club and an accredited fencing master with the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA). He began coaching in 2002 as a lecturer in the Exercise and Sports Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. Although his full-time job at UCSB is now in the Computer Science Department, he continues to coach the UCSB Fencing Team and Club.

Tim received the USFCA Collegiate Coach Award in 2017 for his work with the UCSB Team. That year, the Gauchos finished 3rd overall at the US Collegiate Fencing Championships. The Men's Saber and Epee squads each finished 3rd, and the Women's Saber took the title. UCSB students continue to do well in conference and championship events. Outside of UCSB, Tim's students have reached medal rounds in various local and national tournaments since 2006.

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The Sport of Fencing

Although swordplay has been around since ancient times, it was not until the 18th Century that equipment was safe enough for sport, and rules of engagement were codified. What developed was the basis for modern fencing, one of a few sports to appear in every Olympics since 1896. It is a fast, athletic game, made up of three events:

Foil:

Dubbed the "Sport of Kings," the foil is a descendant of the light, court sword formerly used by nobility to train for duels. It has a flexible, rectangular blade approximately 35 inches in length and weighing less than one pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land on valid target: torso, from shoulders to groin in the front, and shoulders to the waist in the back.

Foil employs rules of right of way. The fencer who starts to attack first is given priority should his opponent counter-attack.

An electrical scoring system detects hits on valid target. Each foil has a blunt, spring-loaded button at the point of the blade that must be depressed with a pressure of 500 grams or more to register a hit. The foil fencer's uniform features an electrically wired metallic vest called a lame - a hit to the lame causes the scoring machine to display a colored light on the side of the fencer that scored the touch.

Epee:

The epee (pronounced EPP-pay - literally meaning "sword" in French) is the descendant of the dueling sword. It is heavier than the foil, weighing approximately 27 ounces, with a stiffer, thicker blade and a larger guard. As in foil, touches are scored only with the point of the blade; however, in epee the entire body, head-to-toe, is valid target - much like in an actual duel. There is no concept of "off-target" in epee. Some people refer to epee as "Freestyle Fencing" because anything goes.

Saber:

The saber is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword. As such, the major difference between saber and the other two weapons is that saberists can score with the edge of their blade as well as their point. In saber, the target area is the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. In addition, saber has rules of right of way which are very similar to foil but with subtle differences.

At Presidio Fencing Club, we are now focusing on epee in our drill classes. New fencers over the age of 10 will start with epee. Some intermediate and advanced fencers continue to focus on foil and saber during sparring sessions.

The above information is provided with thanks from US Fencing. Visit their website for more information.

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How to Register for Introductory Fencing Lessons

Step 1: Add your name to our waiting list by completing this Google Form. (You may have to scroll down.)


Step 2: Watch the preparatory and footwork videos linked in our References section. Video Group #1 is a little dated, but the actions are sound. Video Group #2 is an innovative approach to fencing movements taught by Olympian Dave Littell. He provides a whole series of valuable videos that start with a functional understanding of the sport.

Step 3: purchase a non-competitive membership from the United States Fencing Association. This $15 membership provides insurance, and is collected by US Fencing. If you live in the area then you are in the Southern California Division. Please register your club as Presidio Fencing Club.

Step 4: Email us at presidiofencing@gmail.com to see if there is room in a Drills class. When you arrive, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and athletic shoes, and bring a water bottle. You might also want to bring a spare t-shirt. Drill classes impart basic technique through repetition. They're like fitness classes, but instead of an aerobics step or other equipment, you'll use a sword. Your first few practices may only involve practicing footwork, but you will eventually get the moves down and be ready to go toe to toe with an opponent.

Step 5: When you're ready for group drills and to try some sparring, purchase your equipment. Find a list of what to buy on our equipment page. A complete set of brand new gear will cost ~$300 (mask, jacket, glove, underarm protector, chest-plate, weapon, and body cord). Presidio Fencing Club is not an equipment vendor; however, we do try to connect new and old fencers to sell second-hand gear.


Email presidiofencing@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Sport Fencing in Santa Barbara

Presidio Fencing Club provides training and practice in Olympic sport fencing to novice and experienced athletes, aged 10 to Adult. We are a member club of the Southern California Division of the United States Fencing Association. We operate under the umbrella of the Central Coast Fencing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (tax ID# 820540198).




For insurance purposes, membership with the United States Fencing Association is required before joining any class. New fencers should opt for the "Non-competitive Membership," which is $15 and expires on July 31. Membership may be purchased by creating an account at USFencing.org.




Information on Practices

As of September 2022, we train as a team, once per week, for two hours (Thursdays, 5:30 - 7:30 pm at the Veteran's Memorial Bldg on Cabrillo). Practices include fencers with a range of abilities, from beginner to advanced, and sometimes even the elite/Olympic level.

Each practice begins with warm-up exercises and footwork drills to improve strength, agility, and power, and to provide a foundation for tactics.

Footwork is usually followed by 30 minutes or so of blade work drills. Here we work in small groups and reinforce coach-led, technical actions with a weapon. Instruction is provided in epee (as opposed to foil and saber).

Practices end with sparring, which is like a series of "pick-up games" on the electical scoring machines.

Occasionally, we address topics such as nutrition, goal setting, tournament mentality, and equipment maintenance. We also occasionally use practice time to hold mock-tournaments and prepare for competitions.

Note that fencers must have their own gear to participate. See our equipment page for a list of what to buy. There may be some second-hand equipment available through our online swap meet.


Funk v Meinhold

Introductory Lessons

Fencing Lessons

Our Drills classes might be appropriate for brand new fencers who want to try out the sport. But while it is fun, fencing is also difficult to experience in just a single class or two. We recommend at least four classes. In between lessons, new students should practice the basic footwork and movements they have learned.

Due to the range of ages among club members, we ask that parents of younger athletes contact us before showing up. Students need be able to focus on the task at hand.

We only provide a minimal amount of equipment. Anyone wishing to continue beyond footwork should visit our equipment page for a list of what to buy.



Fees and Services


Payment via Cash, Check, or Venmo (@presidiofencing)
 

"Floor Fee"
$20/practice
$105/6 practices

  • We operate on a per-practice basis, rather than monthy membership.
  • Floor fee must be paid in advance to guarantee participation.
  • Membership with US Fencing is required.

Private and Semi-Private Lessons
$30/lesson

  • Lessons can be arranged one-on-one or in a small group at the availability of a coach, typically outside of group practice.
  • A typical lesson duration is 30 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down.
  • Some lessons might end earlier, at the coach's discretion, and for various reasons (i.e. student fatigue or lack of focus). Some lessons might last longer. The minimum cost is $30.
  • Membership with US Fencing is required, and fencers claiming Presidio Fencing Club as their primary club are given priority.

Tournament Coaching
Variable rates

  • Coaching at Central Coast Fencing Foundation functions and other local events is included for members, gratis.
  • For larger competitions involving travel (i.e. some qualifiers, RYC, SYC, ROC, and NAC), all participating athletes will share in their coach's travel expenses and Per Diem.

Armoring and Equipment Maintenance
$40/hour + parts

  • Body cord repair is typically 15 minutes.
  • Rewiring a weapon typically take 30 minutes.
  • Persons willing to learn how to armor can get discounted rates on repairs.


Reference Material

Tournaments

DPHS Men's Foil Team

There are a number of different fencing leagues, including those for youth, those for inter-scholastic competition, and those leading up to the Olympic Games. Each league or conference tends to have its own championship event. Rather than try to keep track of all of the events, we have prepared a list of links to various league calendars.

Equipment

DPHS Men's Foil Team

Photo courtesy Doug Golupski


All fencers must purchase their own equipment to participate in our practices. Presidio is not an equipment vendor, but we provide a list of trusted vendors and guidelines on what to buy.

We also try to connect people to buy and sell second-hand gear. Are you looking for another jacket or mask? Have you or your child outgrown a jacket or mask? Let us know.